Archaia To Tell 'Trashy' Version of Frankenstein
"It's a whimsical imagining of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," said artist/author Rachel Hope Allison. "In my story, it comes to life. I compare it to the Frankenstein monster because it's kind of dangerous and gross, but it's also just-born and childlike, and wants to have an emotional connection with things around it."
I'm Not A Plastic Bag comes out April 18th, just in time for Earth Day. The story, which is told entirely without words, makes a fictional character out of the real-life Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where discarded plastic bottles, lids and bags swirl into a giant concentration of floating trash in the ocean.
I'm Not a Plastic Bag is being published by Archaia in association with JeffCorwinConnect Inc., a multimedia company launched by Jeff Corwin of Animal Planet fame. The graphic novel begins with Allison's graphic novel, but is followed by illustrated information about marine debris and ocean pollution.
"So I hope it's not just educational for people," the artist said. "I hope it also inspires them get excited about nature and use their imagination."
"When I figured out that I wanted to do a story about the garbage patch, I started trying to draw the garbage in pencil, but it didn't really capture what I wanted, so I started playing around with collage. I love the textures. It made a lot more sense," she said.
For the collage portions of the art — used mainly on the patch monster itself and the expanses of water — Allison shot photographs of water and trash, but then manipulated them with her own art.
The artist originally completed the work for her MFA, but after the project was completed, she sent it out to publishers, hoping the book would get published.
"I ended up just self-publishing it in 2009, mostly for myself and friends," she said.
"The next year, I went to a friend's wedding, and I brought a copy for somewhere there, and I happened to sit next to Mark Smylie's brother at that wedding, and Mark Smylie is the [founder and] chief creative officer at Archaia," she said.
"It was really random," she said. "It just kind of came out in conversation that I had done this, and I happened to have it on me, so I showed it to him. And then it got rolling from there."
Allison said the book is all ages, although it does have a bit of a sad theme of longing. "It's something that all ages can enjoy," she said. "It's got some dark moments, but when I was a kid, I think some of my favorite stories were actually quite dark and kind of honest about dark things."
"I love the form," she said. "This is my first time working in this format of graphic novels, but I would love to do more."