From diamond-encrusted debutante balls in the hills to the neglected streets of the Eastside, if you’re not careful the Los Angeles party scene can eat you alive. In the upcoming graphic novel Poseurs, three teenagers find that out the hard-way.Described by writer Deborah Vankin as “party noir”, Poseurs marks her first foray into writing comics --- but not her first brush with comics – or Los Angeles. For the past ten years, Vankin has written about arts & culture in L.A. and is currently a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times.
“At the time I wrote the book, I was editor-in-chief of Metromix LA, a website and weekly paper published by the LA Times covering events, food and nightlife for twenty-somethings. So I was especially steeped in this world. That's partly why I set Poseurs against that world.“It was just a naturally compelling, colorful and provocative background,” Vankin explains. “In the book, the main character, Jenna, gets a job as a "house-guest-for-hire" and goes to parties across the spectrum as a fake, "undercover" guest -- from intimate dinner parties held by film and record producers to downtown warehouse parties and "art happenings" or splashy Hollywood premieres.”
Although that might seem odd for some, hiring celebrities – or just plain good looking people – to be at an event or party does happen – not only in Los Angeles, but all over the world.
“I read an article in a newspaper -- I forget where now -- about celebrities being paid like $50,000 to make appearances at parties, so people can say "so-and-so was there." I thought it was funny,” explains Vankin. “I just took the concept a little further and fictionalized it. What if real people were paid to attend parties? That sparked the concept.”Although that idea proved to be the initial spark that started the story of Poseurs: the story, as they say, is in the journey.
“Basically, Poseurs about three very different teens who lose themselves in the underworld of glamorous Hollywood and LA parties – from the bloated, billion-dollar mansions of Bel Air, to the graffiti-tagged back streets of LA’s Eastside. There's a kidnapping. A few seedy characters,” Vankin said. “It's fun.”
The three teens stuck in this harrowing coming-of-age story is the previously mentioned Jenna and two others, Pouri Lin and Mac McQuarry. McQuarry is a white kid hailing from the valley with an obsession for street slang, and self-proclaimed “9th most prolific contributor to urbanthesaurus.com,” said Vankin.
Pouri Lin is a mysterious “parachute kid”, dropped into the country by her wealthy parents and set-up with a mansion to live in, $5000 a month to spend and no strings – or school – attached. She’s been tasked to learn English and is being groomed to take over the family business someday, but she’s forgone her matriculation in favor of becoming a fixture on the LA party scene.The third player is Jenna, the aforementioned “party guest for hire” – but as it turns out, she wasn’t born into this life. “Jenna Berry is a shy, alienated teen in Echo Park who lives w/ her single mom,” explains Vankin. “More than anything, she wants to be a photographer – and she sees the world a bit “removed,” through a lens --but they have no money, especially for a digital camera.”
Three teenagers pulled from three disparate parts of the Los Angeles area meet – where else – at a party and it gets started from there.
“All three meet in the party world where Pouri is a guest, Mac is a busboy and Jenna has an after school job as a “Housegusest for hire” – paid to party, undercover, at glamorous hollywood soirees,” explains the writer. “She was hired by We The Party People who send fake guests to dinner parties and the like, in order to “flesh out the guest list” with attractive, seemingly smart and interesting people. Thing is: you never know who’s real at and who’s rented at these things.”One thing that is real is the comics talent illustrating this new one-shot graphic novel. Artist Rick Mays joins comic newcomer Deborah Vankin as a seventeen-year vet of the comics industry, known for his asian-tinged style that’s taken him to work for virtually every publisher in comics. He’s worked on everything from Spider-Man to Batman, but is perhaps best known for his stint on the cult-favorite series Kabuki. For Vankin, it’s an ideal partnership for both his experience and his experiences.
“Rick Mays' art is fantastic,” gushes Vankin. “He used to live in LA and he really captures the grittiness of Echo Park and both the glamour and ridiculousness of some of these parties.”
The graphic novel Poseurs is scheduled to be released February 16, 2011 by Image Comics.What do you think of this new announcement?