It's about to be summer time in North America, but a new year at Sweet Valley High is about to begin - but this time, instead of prose books it's comic books.
Writer Katy Rex and artist Devaki Neogi are bringing the Wakefield twins to comic books, along with everything that comes with them. The high school drama, the love-lives, the sisterhood - it's all here, due out June 3 from Dynamite Entertainment.
With its debut exactly one month from now, Newsarama is here to help you prep for Sweet Valley High - but the only school supply you'll need is this interview with Rex and Neogi.
Newsarama: Katy, Devaki, what does Sweet Valley High mean to you?
Katy Rex: Sweet Valley High has been around for decades, and as a lifelong voracious reader, I loved that there seemed to be infinite stories set in the utopian world of the Wakefield twins. I loved the drama as much as I loved the adorable and idyllic setting. It's a series that's been near and dear to my heart since I can remember.
Devaki Neogi: The first thought that comes to mind is ‘young teen days’ and ‘high school’; that sweet-stage in life where everything is near-perfect and yet not! But that aside, Sweet Valley High is the classic story of everything that siblings are and their dynamic relationship with their ‘life’ and ‘loves’.
Nrama: And what do you think makes it such a good match for stories in comic books?
Rex: Actually, my favorite part of the comics version of Jessica and Elizabeth is the way it adds a new dimension to twin switches! When it's not always apparent to the reader which girl is which, I think it really helps with the immersion.
Neogi: Because, it has a universal feeling of being ‘in love’ and wanting to belong which every teenager would connect with and make it relatable. Since this is a graphic novel, it continues in a similar pace as a classic novel and builds up slowly across 108 pages at a stretch. So, anyone who enjoyed reading the books will find themselves on a similar journey through this.
Nrama: How would you describe the Wakefield twins as we'll see them in this OGN?
Neogi: Pretty, intelligent, and with a sense of righteousness is the Liz Wakefield we know. Whereas her twin Jess is just as pretty, but more dramatic, fashionable.
Rex: Jessica and Elizabeth are true to the characters I grew up with, albeit updated for 2019 - Jessica is an Instagram junkie, for instance, and Elizabeth keeps her extracurricular activities organized via iCal. Most importantly, while they may be opposites in a whole bunch of ways, they love each other the most in the whole world and will always be there for each other, no matter what.
Neogi: Superficially, they are so alike, but they are different deep down. Despite the differences they remain connected with each other throughout and then something slowly happens.
Nrama: So then, what are they up to in this OGN?
Rex: It's summer break, but Jessica has to take a college English course to make up for a class she mostly didn't attend at all during the school year due to Booster practices. Elizabeth has filled her schedule with extra clubs and volunteer opportunities to make her college applications stand out, so she barely has time to deal with Jessica's crush on her T.A. that's threatening to get serious.
Neogi: They are traversing their own life (err ... high school life) path, and coming to a point where their love lives comes into focus. In this volume, we also bring up how each sister approaches things very differently - but along almost parallel paths. It remains to be seen where it will lead - something good, or something bad?!
Nrama: We have a lot of knowledgeable Sweet Valley High readers here. Can you describe your own history with the franchise?
Neogi: I have read a few of them way back as a teen in 1990’s, and for nostalgia's sake I like going through them even now once a while. But I never thought I would get to draw and design the characters again. It was the most exciting part of doing this project.
Rex: Admittedly I was a casual (although enthusiastic) reader growing up, so even though I read dozens of them as they came out, I made sure to do my due diligence writing them. I scoured the spin-offs and even found episodes of the tv series. I think OG fans will find that not only is it true to the series, but I've snuck a few fun references in for them, too.
Nrama: Devaki, this seems like a big departure from your previous comic book work. How did you go about getting up to speed on the setting, the fashions, and all that for this OGN?
Neogi: The Skeptics was about young teens, and there was even a bit of chemistry with part of it. In that sense it is similar to Sweet Valley High, but you're right - it's very different in tone than anything I have done so far.
Horror and things with intense themes are what I was doing for a long time, but The Skeptics broke that pattern and challenged me to do something I had not done before, and I'm glad that happened. Since then I've begun looking to do as many different genres as possible.
Nrama: Big picture, what are your goals for this OGN?
Neogi: The ending is like a cliffhanger, and I think it leaves enough room for something big to happen in the twins' lives and for the story to continue.
Rex: Big picture, I want this book to add to an already legendary canon and bring new and original readers together over what I hope is a really good fun story. I can't overstate how much fun it was to work on this, and I hope it's just as fun for readers to follow the latest Wakefield drama.