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Lani the Leopard Queen    

i n t e r v i e w

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Geof is completing a spectacular new graphic novel about a 12 year old girl who suddenly finds out she can turn into a leopard. Following is an excerpt from a recent as-it-happened interview between Geof and Zachary, a 12 year old skateboarding whiz who likes comics.

What made you want to do a kids’ comic?

I happened to be drawing the portrait of a jungle king and his princess one afternoon. Must be about three or four years ago, now. Suddenly I began to wonder what these two people would have been like as kids. How did they get to the jungle? Were they born there or did they end up there by accident?

So it’s actually the story of Lani and a prince?

Sort of! But I thought, what if the 'prince' was already there — in the jungle, I mean. And what if the princess ended up there by accident?

By ‘there’ you mean the jungle?

In this case, an island — roughly located near the Tahiti zone. But this island is almost impossible to find.

How does Lani get there, then?

Lani's parents, Jane and Craig Larkspaw, are archeology professors who get a year off — a sabbatical — to do research. So they are told that they should visit this island.

How do they know about the island?

A very few, very greedy people know the place exists. Lani’s parents don’t know it, but they are being set up. The few who have ever gone there ended up dying because of the grave dangers around and on the island. But one or two professors have managed to make it there and back. One of them found the fragment of a scroll hinting at the existence of an immortality elixir. But only Lani’s parents are smart enough to find the missing pieces, put them together and decode the hieroglyphics.

So they get there safely — with Lani?

Lani, her parents and her nasty sister Kallah actually make it on to the island, which you can only get to by boat because of weird atmospheric interference.

How does Lani figure out she has the power to turn into a leopard?

You’ll have to read the book [chuckles]. All I can tell you is, things go from bad to worse — especially when Lani comes face to face with Vaspira, a totally evil ancient sorceress.

When does the book come out?

I’ve now [as of mid-July] reached page 110 of 140 pages in rough layouts. 

Rough layouts?

In my case, these are rapidly-sketched, penciled figures with blocked-out background, which give me a pretty good idea of perspective and storytelling rhythm in advance. I had originally scoped out a 128 page book, but there’s so much action, so many twists. And I wanted to give each character to have enough space, no rushing over anything.

I guess you'll have to turn those rough layouts into finished pages? 

Yes. I now have 43 actual finished pages [see line up of panels taken from these pages on right]. It is a rather painstaking process, especially as I have to proceed in tandem with the demands of everyday life.

When are we going to see the third installment of Lincoln-16? It’s been, like, nearly eight years since the second issue.

Unlike Lincoln-16, which was originally conceived as a bi-monthly comic book, the entire Lani story will be available as a single book.  Which means it will be available in regular bookstores as well as comic shops and of course, directly over the internet. 

How can you do so many different projects?

The old creative impetus, I guess. An idea grabs me, I become very curious and, I guess, just have to see where it will all lead. Even though I'm the captain of the ship, I really don't know how a story will really turn out until I've written and drawn the whole thing from start to finish.

I know what’ll happen. They’ll all come out around the same time and then everyone will say, “How does the guy do all these different things at the same time?”

[laughs] Maybe! At this point, I don’t know whether I have the heart to mention that there are two other graphic novels floating around in my head.

No way!

Oh yes... One is a faerie fantasy about a runaway wood nymph named Glydia and a troll named Krugall who is so hideous he can’t even stand to look at his own reflection.

So the troll is after the nymph?

You got it. Krugall is so obsessed with Glydia, he's constantly following her. But he's afraid to death of what would happen if she ever had a real look at his face. So he winds up becoming her unseen protector, even saving her life. A sort of Beauty and the Beast situation.

Does Krugall get the nymph?

You’ll have to wait till the book comes out.

Yeaasahhhhhhh, forever. What’s your other idea?

It’s a ‘day in the life’ story about this guy called Krudge who lives a down and out lifestyle but has unusual abilities. Like the ability to challenge an Olympic weightlifting contender, even though he lives on a diet of cigarettes, coffee, donuts and burgers.

Weird!

There are plenty of comic moments because of this guy’s ‘who cares what everyone else thinks?’ attitude.

Is this Krudge based on anybody from real life?

In a way. He’s more an amalgam of Montreal characters who drift in and out of the downtown area. Not including The Great Antonio, a super strongman with a heart of gold who used to haul buses. That guy deserves a book all his own.

[Montreal, Ju

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ly 18, 2005]

       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi! I’m Lani Larkspaw. I’ve been trapped here
alone on this island for weeks. One day when I
came back for supper my mom, my Dad and
my sister, Kallah all . . . just disappeared.

 

 

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This is Ini, my best pal and the only one who
didn’t disappear. He’s so super smart, he can
almost talk. He even knows how to cook.
Ever tried banana-mango soup?

 

 

oo

Sure, this place is so cool, you have to see it to believe it. There’s lots to eat and I get to hang out in this super cabin someone built on top of a monster sea cliff.

 

 

2

I miss everyone, especially my Dad. Why can’t
everything just go back to the way it was before?

 

 

mnm

I used to get so mad at Mom always pestering me. “Lani,
did you finish your chores yet?” Weird, how I’d give
anything to hear that now.

 

 

ll

I guess I also miss my older sister. Even
though Kallah is a total creep. She is
always pulling rotten pranks on me and
calls me ‘geek-brain’ because everyone
says I’m smarter than she is.

 

 

jjj

One morning, Ini and I are out looking for my family and fresh mangoes for lunch when all of a sudden we come face to face with...a leopard! But he doesn't even try to attack us, just keeps staring, almost like he's trying to figure us out.

 

 

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Life around here is getting scarier and weirder. . .

 

pp

Freaky storms and underground caves, boiling lava
pits, a hurricane whirlpool and scary ancient
cat-humans keep poppping up.

 

Will I ever find my parents? What is the leopard’s secret?

Is Kallah mixed up in all of this somehow?

What will I find in those underground caves?

 

Hold on to your whiskers!

Am I ever about to find out...

 

 

 

 

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Copyright of Geof Isherwood's original creations and reproductions thereof, remain with the artist, and may not be used for commercial purposes without permission.