What the Austen? Podcast

Episode 57: Turning Jane Austen's Emma into a Graphic Novel with Georgie Castilla from Duniath Comics

February 04, 2024 Episode 57
What the Austen? Podcast
Episode 57: Turning Jane Austen's Emma into a Graphic Novel with Georgie Castilla from Duniath Comics
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

"Emma"  has never felt more vivid and imaginative, thanks to Georgie's artistic prowess from Duniath Comics.  It was wonderful to hear about Georgie's Jane Austen journey from finding solace within the pages of "Sense and Sensibility" to creating his own Jane Austen-themed comics, serving as both a sanctuary and a spark for creative endeavours.

Georgie explains how he creates both graphic novels and comics and how he uses this medium to retell much-loved classics with a fresh perspective. This episode is a celebration of Jane Austen's work, the Janeite community and the work creators like Georgie are doing to help make this space inclusive and welcoming to all - a space Jane Austen herself would be proud of.

Where can you find Georgie Castilla
Website
Youtube 
Instagram: @duniathcomics

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Where can you find your host (Izzy)?
Website: www.whattheausten.com
Podcast Instagram: @whattheausten
Personal Instagram: @izzy_meakin
Youtube: What the Austen? Podcast

Speaker 2:

Hi, janeites, and welcome back to the what the Austin podcast. I have an exciting guest lined up today. I am joined by graphic novelist, illustrator and all around Janeite, georgie Castelia from Dunias Comics. Georgie is currently adapting Emma into a graphic novel. So an amazing project, a massive project, and I'm really excited to talk to him about this today. But also you know his journey in the Jane Austen community, what it's like to create a graphic novel in general and also what it's like to adapt Jane Austen, because we all know that's not the easiest of processes. So super excited to talk to Georgie about all of this and I hope you enjoy the episode. Hi, georgie, I am so happy to have you on the podcast.

Speaker 1:

I'm so happy to be here. Thank you so much for the invitation.

Speaker 2:

You're so welcome and I know we've kind of been planning this for a while, so it's kind of at the build up for it's been exciting for me too, so initially I actually found your work through your actually this, this post, the more pride, less prejudiced one which I actually have the stickers, which is amazing. And what I loved when I found that initially was I was like you know what this is reflective of the Janeite community that I want to be a part of, and also what I want to cultivate on my page as well. Like that it's an inclusive space, and so I just like totally resonated with you straight away, and then also that we kind of both fall into this subset of the community where we're taking all love of Jane Austen and we're kind of transferring that into a new medium that's still relatable to a modern society. So, yeah, that was kind of how I, how I found you, but it'd be really good to know about what got you into Jane Austen originally.

Speaker 1:

I started pretty young with Jane Austen. I got into. I got into Jane Austen because of my mom it was. I was in eighth grade and I was heavily bullied in school and I had a really, really tough time and there was a time in which, like I depression was to a point in which, like I just didn't want to continue anymore because I felt like nobody understood me or what was going on in my head. It was. It was a very challenging childhood and and at some point my mom gave me a copy of Sense and Sensibility and she said there's a girl in this book that I think you are going to love because she is pretty much like you. She always talks very openly about how she feels and why she feels the things she feels, and I met Mary and Dashwood and she completely changed my life. So, yeah, I was in eighth grade when I got introduced to Jane Austen. Sense and Sensibility was my introduction to Jane Austen and from there that was just not going back.

Speaker 2:

Always, always, the way right, gosh. I love that, though and thank you for sharing that, because I mean I get that from a lot of people sometimes that it becomes a safe space like Austin's work and it provides an escape for a lot of people and obviously I mean just, you know, terrible going through like bullying with leading to depression and everything. But I love that Jane Austen was that that kind of thing that brought you back out of that and it was something that you could relate to. And you know, you could find that that confident in the characters which I yeah, it's lovely yeah. Oh absolutely, yeah, definitely. So I'm going to be perfectly honest with you graphic novels is not a style or medium that I was familiar with before finding your page, so it's been so eye opening, and I love watching your YouTube videos where you explain everything Like I can't draw a rival, so it's not like I'm going to start making them myself or anything like that, but I just find it so interesting and I'd love to know what got you into graphic novels, like reading them and then the journey into actually creating them yourself.

Speaker 1:

That's an interesting question, because I don't do comics like professionally, like meaning. That's not what I do for a living. However, I've been throwing comics for as long as I can't remember Again because of my challenging childhood. I was a very lonely kid so I was always finding safe spaces within the arts. I think like the arts was like the best way for me to express myself. So I was always doodling and making comics and at some point, when I was in high school and high school was a completely different story like after eighth grade, I transfer schools and because my mom was like enough, this is enough, you need a new life, let's just start over. So I transfer schools in. Transfering school was a life changing chapter, you know, in my life, and high school was a blast. I had, I finally made a lot of friends and I started getting into the theater scene and I had, you know, the theater buddies and friends that understood me. So that really was a game changer and I was doing the comics for the school paper and that was a lot of fun. So, yes, I've been doing that for a long time and what really got me into the graphic novel scene is because I've always been a huge fan of graphic novels. I've always read them ever since I was a child. I grew up. I was a child in the 80s, I was the teenager in the 90s, so I grew up reading Archie and Blondie and Calvin and Hobbs and Snoopy. Charlie Brown was such a darling, so they have always been my companions. So I always was doodling something and it came to a point in which, after I finished college and I majored in theater, but I always had this deep connection with historical garments, like period fashion has always been a passion and that rhymes. But when, after I graduated, I went to fashion school, so I moved to Spain for a while and I was, I was I focused. I went to graduate school for historical fashion, particularly the 19th century, and all of my doodles for some reason always end up being ladies in regency dresses. I just don't know why. I just love the period, I just love the. I think it's just such a beautiful era for fashion. So and then at some point those fashion sketches started to get a little more cartoonized and I was like, this kind of looks like a comic, what if? And I started exploring and then the rest is history. I was like, okay, let's just make Jane Austen comics? Why not? Nobody's doing it? She didn't get her first graphic novel until 2009. Nobody cared about you know, jane Austen in the world of comics until 2009. And I was like this is ridiculous. She is such a beloved author, we need her in this media too. So, yeah, I started doing it. Why not?

Speaker 2:

Oh my gosh, I just love that so much. It sounds so similar to me where you're just like I kind of love doing this, I'm just going to go for it. This sounds fun, yeah, yeah absolutely. Oh my gosh, that's amazing. And also I just love that you've done so many different things that you must be just so talented in all these different areas. She's like so then I was like not in theater anymore, I went to a fashion school and I'm just like oh my gosh, amazing.

Speaker 1:

When people ask me, like when I was growing up, if someone would ask me, what do you want to be, who do you want to be when you grow up, what do you want to do? My answer was so peculiar. I would always say I want to be a Renaissance man. And people would say what is that? And I was like I want to be a little bit of everything when it comes to the arts. I want to paint, I want to draw, I want to learn how to saw and make period garments. I want to be involved with theater, I want to draw comics. I want to do a little bit of everything because the arts make me happy. I love that If I can do all of them.

Speaker 2:

Do them all. I'm going to do them all. Let's be exactly. I love that, though. Oh my goodness. Yes, that is the energy we need, 100%, but what you're working on now is a massive project, right? Because you're taking Emma and you're making it a graphic novel, so we're talking like 300 plus pages Transition that adapting that into a graphic novel, which is massive, because this is an entirely different piece that you're creating. You don't have the luxury of endless pages or anything like that. Or with an adaptation, obviously you've got more time than you would be able to have in a graphic novel, right?

Speaker 1:

Correct, correct. It's been incredibly challenging. I don't think I really knew what I was getting myself into until I started doing it. It's been an education, because I have never done this, at least not in such a large scale. It is different when you make little cartoons for Instagram or a webcomic, but when you're planning on printing a product, there's a lot of things that need to be considered, and it's been a wonderful journey through educating myself on how to do this, particularly because this is a one-man show. This is a one-man production. I'm the one doing absolutely everything, from adapting the script, which was incredibly challenging, to create two whole years, then moving into the thumbnailing and the inking and the sketching, the coloring, all of those steps. I don't have coloring department. I don't have an inking department. Every department of this project it's me. So it's been very challenging, but it's been something that truly gets me out of bed in the mornings. It's something that I'm really passionate about. I don't know, I probably should have started with something easier and not Emma, because Emma is not precisely a shorter novel, it's not the shorter Austin, but it's my favorite and I consider myself an Emma expert, and so it's like you know what Emma makes me feel comfortable. I know it's going to be challenging. I know it's going to take a while, but I will take as much time as I need for this project to be the best version of it that I want.

Speaker 2:

So, yes, I love that. I love that Emma is your favorite as well. You know what? There is something to be said Like if it is a passion project, it has to come from the heart, right? Like you said, that's what gets you up in the morning. It's just like it insights during inside of you and I think that's so important, and you can't sacrifice elements of that being like oh, I can try and make it easier because it's like, well, it might not have the same impacts then. The point is that this is for me, that's probably the element. You'll do it for you at the end of the day, but obviously, even if you put it out there into the world, you're like this is actually a labor of love.

Speaker 1:

Exactly and I wanted to do my own spin, my own take on Jane Austen's Emma, particularly because I was part of a couple of big Jane Austen-related societies and I was very disappointed to see that very few people within their membership looked like me. And I wanted to work towards the goal of proving that Jane Austen is for everyone and not a specific demographic. And because her novels are so masterfully written, they always translate, they always manage to deliver, no matter what, if it's whether it's a film or a project it's a monopoly game. Everything works. Because the themes are so universal and she's full of characters that we can all relate to, and because I wanted a slice of Austen that could become a safe space for representation within the Austen community, I decided to do my own take on Jane Austen and, yes, I have a Harriet Smith of color. Why not? Because I want people to be able to see themselves represented in the Austen community and, thank goodness, I think we are in a place right now in which these period stories have been daring to go the extra mile in terms of representation. You know, shows like Bridgerton or Queen Charlotte, in which they're unashamed of being diverse. And it works and it looks beautiful and it has opened up the region's era to a lot of people who were not familiar with it. And I was like, yes, this is what we should be doing. We don't want any more gatekeeping. We want to bring people into Austen, because she would be thrilled. She loved people, she knew how to read a room, she knew human nature, and the more, the merrier, you know. Let's just bring everyone to the party and just enjoy these masterful works that have managed to stay relevant after, you know, over 200 years. So, yes, when I started the journey with my Emma, it was very daunting, very challenging. But I just keep telling myself, george, you have to do this because no one has ever done it, not the way you are doing it. You know, yes, we do have a couple of graphic novel adaptations of Emma, but it's not Doonie at Comics, emma, there's only one. And this is what you have to say about Emma. So you have to do it. And that's the thing that I keep reminding myself whenever I feel like, oh, this is too much, I'm not going to be able to do it, this is just way too big for me. And then I go like, no, no, georgie, you have to. You have to, because we need it.

Speaker 2:

Yes, oh my gosh, the purpose behind it in its sense is so much bigger than you anyway, because you're literally just like well, I want to show that this is an inclusive space, it's diverse, it can absolutely anybody can be in this community and should be in this community, and we all love each other for that. Yes, I think that's fantastic and you can see that that shines through your work and, like I said, you know what I mean. Like I followed you, like I don't I'm starting to get more into like illustrators and everything now, but, like I said, like I didn't read graphic novels or anything. So the reason that I resonated with your page was because I was like well, this is the community I want to be a part of.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, exactly, and there's so much to cover when it comes to different media, because we are in an era in which communication is just out there, you know, like social media is the thing, and that has opened up a lot of doors for a lot of things. I keep thinking, for example, that growing up we only had the Austin. Adaptations were only done mainly by the BBC, and I was born and raised in Mexico so I did not have access to the BBC channel. So my first introduction to like a big production of an Austin work was the Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, because that was globally released, and I feel that that it happened the same with in the early 2000s, in 2005, when Joe Wright's adaptation of Pride and Project is came out and there's a whole generation that hates that movie, but there's a whole world that absolutely adores that adaptation, because it was the first time in a while that Jane Austin was adapted to the big screen, globally released, and it was a massive success. It made it to the Academy Awards. Kira Knightley was like a hot celebrity at that time and it granted, pride and Project is a precious spot in pop culture, which made it really important to open the doors to this endless world of possibilities and now this cult of celebrity that we have created around Jane Austin and her works, it's because someone was daring enough, thank you, to make, to approach it, to approach it, to approach it in a very contemporary, you know, through a very contemporary lens, to make it appealing to certain generations. And I mentioned this in one of my videos, the making of Emma videos. I always mentioned that I find people who always say, well, the novel, the book is much better, to be very tiresome, because sometimes we tend to forget that an adaptation does not have the the mean to erase the original is not trying to delete the original. The original is there for you to enjoy over and over again. An adaptation is an interpretation of a source material from the point of view of someone else. And I've always said the best adaptation is that one that hits the target, that succeeds in making it appealing to the generation it's addressing. And that is why, you know, generations change, aesthetics change, social needs change. So we need to keep going with it. And I think that it's just so fascinating that, no matter what we do with a Jane Austen adaptation, you know whether, whether is Mr Darcy, you know, swimming in the lake or Mr Nightly showing us his butt. In 2020, the beauty of Jane Austen stories still managed to be relevant, you know, and people who were young in the 90s may feel much more connected to the Gwyneth Paltrow, emma and people that belong to the Instagram generation might be more connected to Autumn DeWiles. Beautiful 2020 Instagram ready. Gorgeous Regency pastel world Castells extreme.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So, and I think that's just really fascinating and it's seeing all this diversity and this, this, yeah, this diversify concepts of what we can do with a source material is what prompted me to say let's try to do something with Emma, let's try to do our own slice of Austin for the audience that follows me, and I think it's important.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, and honestly, like what you were just saying, there was actually a quote from one of your videos that I, like I had to type out. So I was like, oh, that just sticks with me. It says an adaptation does not have the purpose of a raising the original, which lives forever for you to enjoy. An adaptation seeks to translate the work to a different medium with its own rules, language and audience. Sorry to quote you back to yourself, but I was like do you know why that stood with me so much? It's because it actually challenged me. So I was like you and I heard that. I was like, wow, you know what that makes me see adaptation so differently? Because there has been so many times where obviously I'm a book first person like that, you know what I mean. I'm just like, oh, I love the books, I analyze the books, what do you want? My podcast and there. But it made me see adaptations differently in the sense that it made me appreciate even the ones that I dislike, because I was like actually there's a time and place and there's an audience for all of those adaptations and that in itself is important.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, yeah, absolutely. And I mean we all know what we like and there are often adaptations that I think are atrocious. But you know, but I do understand. You know I have people that say, oh, the Netflix persuasion is great, and I was like, oh, okay, I won't say anything. I won't say anything. You know, there's an audience for everything. At least you know it's Austin in a way. People get curious. Maybe this adaptation will get, will drive people to approach the novels and find out what they have been missing. But I just, you know, but I just celebrate anything that opens a door or even a small window to the world of Jane Austen. I appreciate it and I celebrate it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, and there was definitely something about the Netflix persuasion as well, but because I know that Bridgerton has done such a great job of Diversify and like the cast when it comes to Regency dramas and stuff, but I feel like the persuasion opened the door in the Jane Austen world a little bit more, which is something I was like so happy with, because I was like, yes, this is important because you know, it's kind of a long time coming, and I feel like with Bridgerton it was kind of like it was like oh, this is so impressive that they've done this, whereas now we just need to make that that's just the norm, like that should just be standard. So, and I love that.

Speaker 1:

Yes, absolutely, I totally agree. I totally agree.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, definitely. I would love to chat a little bit more about actually making a graphic novel in, like the process and how you do like the frames panels. Like honestly, when you're talking about this stuff, I'm literally there just like, oh my goodness, this has to be a labor of luck because it takes so long. Like you had to write a whole script first and then you then have to place this within frames.

Speaker 1:

Correct the thing with a graphic novel and let's just talk a little bit about the difference between a comic and a graphic novel, because there's tends to be a lot of confusion. A graphic novel is a comic, yes, it is. The main difference is that a comic is usually way shorter and it always leaves every. Each issue is left at a cliffhanger for you to want to buy the next issue and you keep writing the story as long as it sells. A graphic novel usually know where it starts and where it ends and you have the entire story. Like by the end of the book. There is an ending. There's no volume to volume three, volume four, I mean you could publish the graphic novel in several volumes, but you already know where the story ends. And a graphic novel is usually read like a normal book. It has a beginning and it has an ending in. The only difference is that everything is told through images. So the process is very challenging because graphic novels and comics being such a visual you know medium, they need to be able to tell the story as visually as possible, because it's all told from the point of view of cartoons and images and illustrations. So when adapting the script, the most challenging part was to decide what to keep and what to let go, because you know it is at the end of the day. I'm not trying to copy paste, you know, a Jane Austen, because it is impossible to do so. The novel is there for everyone to enjoy. I'm not trying to rewrite the novel, I'm just trying to take the material and translate it to a visually entertaining graphic media. So you know, what I started doing is I started with the script first, because I wanted to make the decisions of what I'm keeping, what I can live without, what I think it's vital for the story to be told the way that I think Austen wanted it to be understood. It's really challenging because, as a huge fan of the book, I wanted to keep everything. But okay, you know, maybe we don't need this, maybe we don't need that, and at the end of the day, you have to make peace with the fact that an adaptation is a shorter, summarized version of the masterpiece. So, once I had the entire script, which took me a while, almost two years, to nail it, and I'm pretty sure that there's still some parts that could do some polishing and they probably Well, at least things out of play. Yeah, there's a few parts that I said maybe I could rework this, but I worry, across that bridge, when I get there, let me just start sketching and putting things into images to see if this is even worth it. So yes, so I started with the script, and once you have the script, you start, you move to the next stage, which is called the thumb nailing, and I have an entire episode of thumb nailing in my video series. But, to summarize it, thumb nails are teeny, tiny, very raw sketches for you to brainstorm the layout of an entire page, because one thing that I learned as I was educating myself on how to make a graphic novel was that, in order to be able to print a graphic novel, there are certain aspects that need to be considered that are extremely important. One of them, for example, is your page count. Your page count must be divisible by four, and that is because in the printing process, the sheets are printed in these gigantic pattern sheets that are folded, trimmed and cut out to create a final product. So it has to be divisible by four, and that's something that you need to consider. So what I do during the thumb nailing process is that I want to make sure that everything that I wrote down on the script will be able to fit in the number of pages, that I need it for the printing process and that all the dialogue fits within the panels without cluttering the page too much, without making it too visually.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you do want to have tons of speech rules everywhere, you just can't see anything.

Speaker 1:

Exactly. So yeah, that was the most challenging part was to start thumb nailing from the script. But just to give you an idea, the steps would normally go At least I'm disclaiming this, I'm not a professional cartoonist or anything but for what I have learned and in my own experience, you would start with your script and then move to the thumb nailing which will allow you to brainstorm the entire layout of the whole work, and once you have that, you can start sketching, and from sketching you move to inking, then coloring, then the special effects like highlights and shadows, and then you end up with the lettering. So yes, it's a lot of work and I'm taking my sweet time to make sure that all of these steps are the best version of the best version they can be.

Speaker 2:

You can just tell as well yeah, it's such a process and also it's like you've got to keep condensing stuff, so you've got to condense to get the script, but then from the script you then you've got to transfer it into kind of small frames and then, yeah, absolutely Can I get why you would say that even when you're looking at your script again, you're like this thing's I could still change, and I guess that's the it's finding the balance, isn't it? Because I guess I could always be the case you could be like gosh, I want to fit more in, or it's like could I lose something else, or could I change that to? Yeah, that's really difficult process.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and at some point you have to let go, you have to say it's good. I tend to overthink things, so if I overthink it, then I know I will never be able to move forward. So at some point I just say, I just tell myself, georgie, what you have works, it's beautiful, take it from there and keep going, because if you keep rethinking and going back then you will never, ever, ever move forward, and that's not the point. So it's been very challenging to motivate, to motivate myself to keep going and not to give up on myself, and because imposter syndrome is the thing and my insecurities also kick in. But I have a wonderful husband that all the time he reminds me baby, you know Jane Austen, you know Emma, you've got this, you've got this, you've got this. Sit down and draw, start drawing. Stop going back to the script. How?

Speaker 2:

do you draw your name Over?

Speaker 1:

and over. We want to see it, we want to read it. So it's like, ok, ok, I get it. I get it, it's good. It's good, I need to move forward.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. So just before we move on to the next topic, then I just want to say a little bit about our sponsor, house of Bennett. If, like me, you love taking a break from your modern life to escape into Jane Austen's world of handwritten letters, romantic rendezvous and long walks in the countryside, you will love the House of Bennett shop. House of Bennett offers stickers, pins, jewelry, totes, shirts and so much more All themes around your favorite classic literature and period dramas, including Jane Eyre, ann of Green Gables, little Women and, of course, the works of Jane Austen. Head over to HouseofBennettcom. That's H-A-U-S-O-F-B-E-N-N-E-T, dot C-O-M, and use my code WHATTHEDISCOUNT for 15% off at the checkout. So, once again, that's HouseofBennettcom and use my code WHATTHEDISCOUNT for 15% off. So, like, just for me to kind of I realize now that I have read a graphic novel because I read the Heart Stopper series and that's graphic novels, right, yeah, right, so I actually have. I'm like hell, I don't know anything about this. I actually, yeah, I have experienced graphic novels before. But so the difference then between a comic, your Sense and my Sensibility series? That's a comic.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that is a comic, because in this particular, it's a specific genre of comic which is called Slides of Life. It's basically just a little vignette that tells a very short story in just a few panels, and it's usually very cute and very cartoony, very silly, and they usually focus on aspects of daily life, which, in my case, was to depict my relationship between Steven and I, because our friends always joke that we are Sense and Sensibility, because I'm pretty much a drama queen and I wear my feeling pretty loudly, I wear my heart and sleeve and Steven is much more sensible, rational and measured and much more of an Eleanor. So I just think it's really funny and it was a fun topic to explore. It's like what if I create a comic about a gay couple that's not over sexualized like they always are, until Heartstopper and I absolutely adore Alice Oseman for depicting true boy love without being sexualized, and it's just, we're just normal people. We're just normal people. So that's why I'm a huge fan of Heartstopper too. So I'm so happy that you mentioned it, because Heartstopper was also a big inspiration behind your sense and my sensibility. And yeah, so that was actually my first big comic. When I created Doonieeth Comics because Doonieeth Comics was not even a plan I just created an account on Instagram to show my art and my doodles, just to put them out there for whoever, for the world, for those who would care. So and I started doodling and uploading them. And then I just had the idea of doing your sense of my sensibility comics and I made them as a web comic. I'm totally lying, because before your sense of my sensibility, I did have a web comic that was very successful and it was called Spinsterly Ever After and it was a cute comic about a princess that in her 30s and her grandma is always bothering her that she's still unmarried but she believes that she can rule the kingdom without a man. And it's a comic that's inspired by my sister, gina, who's a very independent, badass woman who's always been very about showing your worth as a woman and we can do anything, and she's great.

Speaker 2:

We're loving Gina. We're loving Gina we love Gina.

Speaker 1:

Gina is just terrific, and I had a grandmother that would always ask dinner parties. When are you going to have a boyfriend, Jeannie? You know that kind of family dynamic yeah exactly. You know that family dynamic in which the women are always expected to get married and have kids and all of that, and Gina is in no hurry to do that. So I thought it was just really, really funny. So she inspired the character of Princess Jeannie and I started doing the web comics. I decided to end it after just one season because web comics, web comic platforms, expect you to be very regular and I always found myself struggling to meet my deadlines because, again, this is something I do on the side. So I was like you know what? I don't want to do web comics anymore. I don't want to be part of a web comic community because I know I don't have the time to deliver. So that's why, when I decided to create, to go bigger with doing web comics and say you know what? I think I just want to print my material and maybe crowd funded because Emma is going to be crowd funded, because and I know it and I know people will support it, I know people will back it. So I would say maybe one. Yeah, absolutely. So it's something that it was a big decision because I had a lot of love for that, for especially ever after I might go back to it and rework it and maybe plan on turning it into a printed graphic novel, but that's something way in the future. I need to get through Austin first, particularly because I want to adapt to six novels, which is probably going to take forever. But I'm making good progress with Emma, so hopefully Emma will be finished sooner than later, and then we're going to move on to Northanger Abbey, which I already started. I already started with the script and, oh my gosh, yeah, and I was like I had a hard time deciding what's next, like after Emma. I know that I'm getting ahead of myself, because I should focus more on Emma and not think about the future, but I'm the type of person that always starts planning the next step, planning ahead, planning ahead.

Speaker 2:

I think when you're creative as well you just said, choose things I think that come as a creative person as well Is how do you let go of some work that at one point in your life, meant so much to you, but you know it's time to let it go. And then also when you start planning for the next stuff without losing sight of what you're currently doing. And I can totally relate to that. There's loads of times where I've tried to create episodes that I've created in the past because I'm like, oh well, that was amazing and I love that. But I'm like, yeah, but it had its time. Like, leave it where it is and focus on what you're doing now and don't worry so much about the episodes in 20. But I don't know, end of 2024. Because I'm like you can just chill out a bit. You know what I mean. Take it one step at a time. But I think that is the struggle of a creative. Is that you? Yeah, it's that balance between the past, the future and the present, isn't it?

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, absolutely. But I think that as long as you have a purpose, you keep going, no matter what. So I set this for myself. It's something that I, it's my safe space. It's something that I do when I'm not working. I come home and I sit down and I work on my comics, and it's something that is how I like unwinding after a long day, you know it's like because I do have a lot of hobbies too. So it was like I love the fact that I could be working all day and then I come home and I'm working on something that hopefully will make someone smile and will also be a slice of Jane Austen in someone, in someone else's life as well. Because it's something that I have truly learned to appreciate is how welcoming certain groups within the Austin community have been, because there is an entire group of this very large community that are pushing for more diversity and for a safe space within the Austin community, and that's why I've been getting myself involved with. You know, that's why I created that whole campaign of the Jane Austen is for everything cartoon. Sorry, jane Austen is for everyone cartoon. Because I wanted to. I wanted to create something that would matter but that was directly related to something that I'm extremely passionate about, which is Jane Austen. I know that in my case, I always go back to something that my mom told me years and years and years ago, when I was dealing with bullying and all of that. I always loved courting my mom. She's a very wise woman and she's always been a warrior defending the people she loves. She once told me darling, you have so many talents, so many talents, but guess what? Talent is not a gift. Talent is not responsibility. It is your duty to use those talents to make a difference, if not in the world, at least in your world. That changed my perspective completely. That has been my motto ever since. It's like yes, I do have many talents, I need to use them to create something that will matter. I want to create a safe space within the Jane Austen community. I want a little girl to become my book and says oh, this character looks like me. The beauty of Jane Austen characters is that she does not offer a lot of physical description about her character. We can let our imaginations run wild. I think we are living in a world in which we need to be able to navigate with as much kindness as we can, because it's not an easy world we inherited. It's very broken, it's full of contradictions, it's full of challenges, it's full of hate, but there is also a lot of love, a lot of people who are willing to say you know what? I am going to take care of you, I'm going to embrace you and celebrate you and love you and put you out there because you are my people. I started following all this when you find I'm pretty sure it happens to you when you meet someone and you go like you are my people. You understand kindness, you understand love, you understand respect. You understand that we don't need to be the same to be equal. That's something that a lot of people forget. I had a lot of challenges when I moved to the United States back in 2008 and I joined a couple of Jane Austen societies. I walked away twice due to homophobic and racist comments. It was terrible that I was just trying to be part of a community that meant so much to me, because Jane Austen is my life. I did not feel welcome. I was like this is just not right. This is not right. No one should be telling the world how to read Jane Austen or who can read Jane Austen, because she belongs to the world. That's when I started looking for safe spaces like yours easy. That's why we need this podcast and we need the comics and we need the film adaptations and we need this cult of celebrity around Jane Austen, because we need to educate certain generations and let them know that there is no gatekeeping, that these works are so beautiful and so universal and so relevant that everyone is entitled to have it. Let's not judge the book or its reader by the cover. That's something that I want to enforce through my work. It's that I'm just a gay guy, born and raised in Mexico, who happens to be into Jane Austen. Why not? Yes, it's weird, but it's unique and it's beautiful and I celebrate it. I think that's great.

Speaker 2:

You're saying we so much with this and honestly, this has actually been one of the biggest journeys I've gone on with my podcast is when I've had friends on is the conversations that I've had with certain people where they've told me that they felt uncomfortable for liking Jane Austen or they didn't feel included in the space, and every time I hear that honestly it puts a firecracker up my butt because I'm literally just like no, I want this to be a space where everybody feels included and everybody can enjoy the text. I mean we've got to be perfectly clear here. I've never been excluded from the community. You know what I mean? I'm a cis-fright female. I've never been excluded from the community, but hell does it bother me when people are creating the podcast? I think one of my driving forces with it was that I was like I want this to be a safe space. If I've got a number one priority with it, that is up there for me. Gosh, some of the stuff you said. Georgie, come on, you're a motivational speaker right here. You can be leading the way, leading the charge.

Speaker 1:

Easy. If we don't do the work, no one's going to do it for us. I have learned to contribute as little or as much as I can. When I started the journey of doing the economy switch, I had no idea it was going to become a small site business that has actually put food on my table. I'm really thankful for that, because it's not something that I do full time. It's something that I created because I needed that safe space, because I'm always looking for ways to express myself, because I'm an artist and I'm a creative person. I think it's just really beautiful. All the things that have opened up for me ever since I created the junior comics. All of these things have been truly special. This kind of connection that I'm having with you right now, it's something that I have no words to express how much I treasure it because, again, we are creating these pockets of safe spaces throughout a community that we, that we are healing, that we are curing, and I think that what we do is very, very important. And I wanted to take a second to thank you for the work that you're doing, because the podcast is absolutely beautiful, it's entertaining, it's educational and it is a safe harbor. It is a safe space and the fact that you reach out to say, hey, I love your work, I would love to have you in this space. This is the kind of connection that I've been working towards ever since I started doing the comics and my journey through Jane Austen in the world of comics. So really, from the bottom of my heart is thank you.

Speaker 2:

Don't you even cry, oh my gosh, I'm going to get emotional here, super emotional in this episode, but no, I appreciate that. Thank you, it does really mean a lot. Sorry, that's Hogi now speaking his toilet. He's also destroying all over the floor. He's a cute boy, though I have to give him any fun. I thought it. Are you ready? Sorry, I didn't want to brush you. I thought it'd be really good to chat about as well, because something else that I saw in your YouTube video was about actually specifically creating Emma in how certain things were quite difficult, like creating her hair, because you've got to then like replicate these images across so many different pages.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely. The thing with character design is that you need to keep in mind that the characters will need to repeat panel after panel after panel, and I have learned that less is more. The simpler the character, the better it is. And when I started experiencing the challenge of like, oh, oh, this is actually really tough. This is very, very time consuming, because I love Regency hairstyles Like I think they're just the cutest and I did a lot of research because I try to be as historically accurate as possible, at least visually. You know, I want the fashion that I'm depicting for the characters. I want it to be, you know, particularly 1815, and in my signature, pastels, of course, because we love pink. But yeah, when I started creating the very early drafts of the character of Emma, her curls were very defined and I was taking my sweet time doing all those curls in the front and the back, and then I was like this is taking forever and it's only one panel. I need to draw her in five more just in this page. So it's like, oh, my goodness. So I started brainstorming Like how can I do this in a way that is productive, that is, you know, time smart, and that it's not going to defeat me in a way that, like I'm exhausted by the end of the page and I don't want to touch the work anymore. So I went back to the specific chapter in the book in which Emma is getting ready to paint a watercolor of Harriet and she is drawing all her work her past work to Harriet and Mr Elton, and she's talking about the fact that you know she made an attempt to draw John Knightley and that she thought she did a good job. But Isabella didn't think so, and the fact that she has a portfolio full of, like, sketchy, unfinished art was the inspiration behind the style. So I was like what if I make the cartoons to look a little doodly, to look a little, a little unfinished? What if we were to look at these characters through the eyes of Emma Woodhouse, who you know is mediocre at a lot of things? Because everyone praises her. She does not have that motivation to be really good at it, because everyone thinks she's perfect and she is fine with people thinking that she's better than what she actually is, and I absolutely adore that. So it's like you know what, let's just play with that idea. So instead of taking my sweet time with the curls, I started just doing this like doodly, you know, swirls for the curls and they look so cute. I was like, yes, this is the way to go. She's doodly, she's, you know, messy, unapologetically cutesy, and there's an elegance to it at the same time, because there's so there's a mystery of it, and that was the inspiration of it. What if we just do something that looks like it has a watercolor vibe, pastel vibe, because it's a story set in the Regency era at the end of the day? So yeah, it took a lot of experimentation, but I finally nailed it and I'm really happy with my version of Emma, at least visually speaking.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, looks fantastic. I will show again, based off my water bottle.

Speaker 1:

That's a very, very early Emma. It is.

Speaker 2:

She's got the tie ring.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's an odd one.

Speaker 2:

Okay, we could. At least she can live forever on my water bottle, Right oh?

Speaker 1:

absolutely yeah, no, and I decided you know Emma has changed a lot during my process of exploration and experimentation, but I do like the steps that I have taken. So all of the designs that I put up, you know, on the stores for merchandise, even though those Emmas are like not the Emma that is going to appear in the final product, I decided to keep them on the products because it's part of the process. You know I was like it's still cute. You know she has changed over, you know the months, because I've been experimenting and the style has changed and mutated to something that fits my needs for what I'm doing right now. But I was like she's still a really cute cartoon, you know, for an illustration on a sticker or a magnet or a tote bag, she's fine.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and also it's just like a testament to the journey right as well. When you've got these, like these different Emmas and these different situations, yeah, you're literally just like, well, this was the process and I want to, you know, celebrate that as well.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Speaker 2:

I love that. Oh, my goodness, this has been so much fun. I've honestly had such a blast chatting with you. I know you've got so much stuff you could mention, so do you want to let people know, like, where they can find you Obviously, maybe about your shop, and also what other content you've got going out?

Speaker 1:

Sure, absolutely so. I do have a website which is adounyethcomicscom, and I usually have like news and a link to the vlog. The vlog is it's. It will link you to my YouTube channel. Where is? It's the place where I am uploading this video series that I started to make people part of the journey of creating the graphic novel of Emma. So I've been doing this behind the panels I call it Because there's no cameras behind the panels videos of how Emma is coming together. And, yeah, the website will be the best place to to find all of that. And, of course, you can find adounyethcomics on Instagram. I do, I upload doodles all the time and and I have a few shops in which I have some of my designs. Most of them, if not all of them, are Jane Austen related Right now. Yeah, I always do a design for Pride Month that always comes out every June, and it's on t-shirts and stickers and magnets and mugs and a lot of fun things, just to create something for the Jane Austen fans. That cannot get enough memorabilia. So, yeah, I recently launched the Christmas at Randall's Holiday Mugs.

Speaker 2:

So pretty.

Speaker 1:

Which is it's the newest addition to the shops and it's, it's really it's. It's a fun thing to do. You know, it's like sometimes you're trying to find something, know, a little gift for a Jane Austen fan and hopefully one of the mugs, or the magnets, or the stickers, or even a postcard. So yeah, so yeah, so yeah. So way to spread the love.

Speaker 2:

I love that. And also, you know what I really like about your shop as well is it means we can. We can buy like small bits of what you're doing, because I know obviously it's taking time to do the comic and everything. So I'm literally just like I love this. You know this little sprinkle of lots of comets Cool. Get myself some stickers, get myself a mug. It's cool, exactly, yeah. So I do really love that. I just want to say as well your YouTube channel yes, people need to subscribe. It's so good. Oh, my goodness. Honestly, I am loving each and every single episode and, like I said, I'm not here going to go and write a graphic novel, but to learn about. It is so fascinating. And also your editing everything Impact.

Speaker 1:

Oh, thank you, Thank you. Yeah, they're fun to make. I'll tell you that much. They're really fun to make. And here's the thing because I because I'm planning on crowdfunding Emma, because you know I don't want to go through I approached a couple of you know editorials and the fine print was always a little sketchy. I want to be able to own my own work and to do with my work whatever I want. So I approached several friends who are very successful in the comic, in the indie comic scene, and they were like Georgie crowdfunded. People will back this, people will fund it and pre-order it and make sure that this happens. So, because I decided that I wanted the community to be part of this, I was like I want the community to be part of it from the start. So that's why I decided to create the Making of Emma video series, because I want people to be part of the process as well, to share what goes through putting all this work together. So, by the time I say, hey, people, I need your support. They already know what I'm talking about, because they feel part of it, Because I have opened that window and I've made myself very transparent with, like this is what I'm doing, this is for you, this is for the Jane Austen community. I hope you love it as much as I am loving doing it for you, so hopefully it will bring people to what I do when it comes to Jane Austen in the world of graphic novels. So yeah, it's been fun.

Speaker 2:

I love that knowing there is something so much more special when it becomes a collaborative process. Like that's definitely. I love that side of things as well, like when you can come together with everybody. You can like. What do you think about this and everything? And yeah, it's always so much more special when you know that loads of people have come together to help you build something. Yeah, I think that's amazing. I love that so much. Oh my gosh, I've had the best time.

Speaker 1:

And because I am a person that you know I suffer from a lot of insecurities in imposter syndrome and I tend to how to put it mildly I tend to beat myself up, sometimes, like to doubt myself a lot, but I've learned to rely on people Like I'm a person that I'm not afraid to lean on love and kindness and others to keep going. So the fact that I am sharing the process with everybody is because it's a way to keep myself also accountable for the things that I'm doing. So it's like I am putting so much of it out there that there's no way I cannot finish it. I have to finish it because I've made so many people part of it, so now I have to finish it, you know, and sometimes you just get those bits of validation. You know that whispered in your ear, that what you're doing matters and it's beautiful. I don't know to have Julia Quinn, the author of Bridgerton, you know, sharing my work and she's a huge fan of doing it. Oh yeah, she's a huge fan of doing it and I absolutely love that, because you know she's one of my idols, and the fact that she shares my work and she says your work is beautiful, your work matters, it's like Julia, this just changed my life. Thank you so much. You know, if that's the type of validation that lets you know that what you're doing is good, that what you're doing matters, and that someone will care and someone will treasure it and embrace it and celebrate it, and those are the little things that keep me going, knowing that someone will care and join me in my love for all things. Austin.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, definitely. And also, you know, when you put it out there and it comes from a place of love, you know you're going to attract the right people back as well, which I think is the main thing. Also, You're like for every one, like terrible person. You'll get like 10 amazing people and you're just like I was drawing you people in, you know, manifesting you into my life. Hello, yes, oh, my gosh, Amazing, though we'll probably wrap it up here then and I will talk everything about what's going on with the comics and everything and George's pages below so everybody can follow. But yeah, thank you so much for coming on, George.

Speaker 1:

I've had a good time.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for having me see lovely lovely, lovely chatting with you.

Speaker 1:

But yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Adapting Jane Austen
Making a Graphic Novel Process
Balancing Creativity and Moving Forward
Creating Emma
Imposter Syndrome, Validation, and Finding Support