Cartoonist Cécilia Dupuy, a.k.a “weeney Boo, seeks to bring the realities of struggle with an eating disorder to life in a new magical-realism graphic novel that needs your help to come about.
Eat and Love Yourself, which Dupuy is producing with co-writer Lylian, is a unique look at a young woman dealing with her past - and finding a way to do it over with help from a magical chocolate bar. The graphic novel is currently winding down a Kickstarter campaign, with rewards including a chance to appear in the story. With only a few days and a few thousand dollars to go, we talked to Dupuy about her passion project, and why this story had to be told
Newsarama: Cécilia, tell us about the premise of the book.
Cécilia Dupuy (a.k.a. Sweeney Boo): Eat and Love Yourself is a book about eating disorder and body-shaming. We decided to talk about the life of a young woman named Mindy, who lives with these body issues.
The story of the book will follow Mindy's life and troubles, to get better, and learn to love her body. A magic chocolate bar will transport her into her past, to have a second look on her life.
Nrama: How did the idea come about?
Dupuy: I've suffered from an eating disorder years ago. Even if you recover from this illness, being comfortable with our own body stay an everyday challenge. That's something really powerful, it's hard to completely get away from it.
I had a hard time making people understand my situation; it's often taken lightly, and people and family do not realize that this is a real disease. This is the reason why I wanted to talk about this, to talk directly to people who suffer from this, and to all the other people who don’t understand what that is. You must learn to accept yourself and understand you. And these are exactly the steps by which the character of Mindy will have to take.
Nrama: What made you turn to Kickstarter to fund this?
Dupuy: We knew exactly how we wanted to make this book. A year ago, we had sent the pitch to publishers, who where unfortunately not interested by the project. We could have given up, and moved on.
But the writer and I never wanted to give up this story - it was impossible for us to have to let go the character of Mindy. That's why we thought about crowdfunding, and since then we kept working on the project in that direction.
Nrama: What made you want to confront the issue of eating disorders, and what do you feel is the biggest misconception people have about them?
Dupuy: Most of the people have a hard time admitting to and recognizing eating disorder as a real mental illness. But it's one of the most serious ones. It can destroy the entire perception you have of your body, until you can't recognize yourself, and you just hate everything you are.
Our current society doesn't realize how much pressure they put on having “the perfect body.” We can be judged about our body even by our own family, because nobody understands how much those kind of situations can mentally destroy someone.
We want to share about every kind of situation a person with eating disorder can confront, to share with the people who suffer from this already, and to show how it is for the people who don't understand.
Nrama: How did you two come together as collaborators, and what is your collaborative process like?
Dupuy: Lylian and I started working together two years ago. We first learned to know each other’s universes before thinking of any kind of collaboration we could do together. This is when I first talked to him about Mindy and her story, since then we worked on it.
We both live in Montreal, which make things easier for us. We have spent hours sharing, writing ideas, and thinking of what we wanted to do with our story.
Once the structure of the book was almost done, Lylian started writing some pages, while I was working on the characters. We work chapter by chapter, which means Lylian writes a chapter and sends me the script so we can make some modifications at this point already.
After this, I work on all the pages’ storyboards for the chapter, and I add the dialogue. As this stage, we can have a first idea of what the chapter will look like, so we can change some panels and change some dialogue to make everything more fluid.
And we repeat the process for every chapter.
Nrama: The book has a unique look - tell us a bit about your artistic process, and your greatest influences.
Dupuy: Since I graduated a graphic design program in 2012, I've started working as a freelance, and draw every day. My style came by itself, I was always very influenced by the work of Alessandro Barbucci, on Witch or Skydoll - they’re the first comics I read, and made me want to be a comic artist.
I also love the work of Anna Cattish, Babs Tarr, Loish, Sean Murphy, Matteo Scalera, and Bryan Lee O'Malley, of whom who I am an incredible fan - they all have always been my principal influences and made me want to work with traditional tools. I've started working in digital, but I've slowly gone back to traditional art.
I sketch, ink and color all my work with watercolors. Unfortunately, I don't have enough time to do all the comics pages in watercolors - I still use the computer for this part. But I really want to do a full traditional comic one day.
Nrama: What are some of the rewards for the Kickstarter you want people to know about?
Dupuy: We are lucky to have been joined by three amazing artists – Marguerite Sauvage, Mirka, and Loish have all accepted to create exclusive artwork for the project, which are available in the guest rewards pack.
We also include packs with a personalized signature or a sequential page inked and signed. But the pack we are the most proud of is called “You in the Graphic Novel” we offer to any backers to became a character of the book during one or two pages.
Nrama: Give our readers the hard sell on why they should back this project.
Dupuy: We're really sure the story of the book can touch and help people. We want to give a new vision of the eating disorder, so it could stop being a taboo.
Nrama: What's next for you?
Dupuy: I always have ideas of stories in my mind for future books. And during the year, I already have planned future collaborations, but I can't talk about them for now…!
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Dupuy: We just would like to thank all the backers who believe in the project, and the future ones who will give us the chance to create Eat and Love Yourself! Thank you again for this opportunity, we are so happy we could make it!