Ryan North, writer of Squirrel Girl, Adventure Time and Dinosaur Comics, attended the 2016 Word on The Street Festival in Lethbridge on September 24th to chat about his latest novel, Romeo and/or Juliet. He met with fans, spoke about his writing process, the cool secret in Romero and/or Juliet and his thoughts on the upcoming Squirrel Girl adaptation which seems to be cooking.
The Word On The Street Festival is growing into a signature event in Southern Alberta, where we present established and emerging authors, storytellers, informative panel discussions, demonstrations and workshops, live music, tons of activities and a bustling marketplace. We strive to create a FREE local festival that represents the diversity of our community, is accessible to all ages, and most importantly is well attended, lively, and fun!
If you were lucky enough to meet Ryan North at either WOTS Lethbridge or the following day during his in-store comic signing at Kapow!, then you know just how friendly and approachable the writer is. I was lucky enough to ask him a couple questions while getting some of my Squirrel Girl and Adventure Time stuff signed, including what he thought about the inevitable Squirrel Girl adaptation which is on the horizon (Anna Kendrick even expressed interest in the part).
Keven: “Do you worry about an adaptation of Squirrel Girl losing the spirit of that all-ages family friendly vibe that you’ve established on your current run?”
Ryan: “They never go to the writers and ask them about that kind of stuff, but I do. I do worry.”
During his speaking panel at WOTS, there were several great fan questions as well including how North wanted to initially approach his Squirrel Girl run and what drew him to the comic.
Ryan: “Usually in superhero comics and movies like Civil War, heroes meet, they punch each other, then later on they’re mates. They work it out. In comics, a character who is willing to talk before you get into a fist-fight — which seems like basic problem solving — is almost a revolutionary action. It’s so far outside the normal superhero comic aesthetic, that I thought it would be fun and exciting to explore that.”
One of the cool features in North’s latest novel, which is a choose-your-own adventure spin on Shakespeare called Romero and/or Juliet, is that if you follow the traditional path from start to end, you’ll discover an unlockable character — Rosaline.
Ryan: “In the book Rosaline is 30 years old, she’s an adult, which makes Romeo’s puppy dog attraction to her so easily dismissed. ‘You’re literally 15 years old, I’m not gonna date you, I’m 30, get outta here’. She’s this private eye and the tone switches as she’s investigating this apparent double suicide of the kids of the two richest families in town. Everyone is saying, ‘it’s fine, let’s not look into it’. It also switches from second-person to first-person, which is neat because Rosaline is in this noir-like world.
The main reason I had this idea, and I’m not gonna say it was all for the sake of a pun, but… Romeo and Juliet starts with ‘In fair Verona where we lay our scene’ and in one of the endings where Rosaline dies, she’s talking about how she’s about to be killed by this guy, and she’s like ‘nobody said… Verona was fair’.”