Interview With Tania del Rio on Sabrina Plans, OEL Manga
Q: In some of the coverage of the Tokyopop OEL situation, Lindsay Cibos said that she was the new artist on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Is that the case?
A: I’ve been writing and drawing Sabrina pretty much nonstop without a break for the last 4 years. When I moved from New York to Los Angeles, I realized the transition was harder than I expected, and quite frankly, I just needed a break to get things back on track. So I spoke with my editor Mike Pellerito about it, and we agreed to find some guest artists to fill in on a few issues, so that Sabrina wouldn’t get too off-schedule.
He already had Chad Thomas in mind, and we felt his style would work well with the two-part “Salem’s Secret” story arc (issues #93-94). I brought up Lindsay Cibos’ name since I’ve always been a fan of her work, and her work on Peach Fuzz proved she can do kid-friendly comics well, so I was thrilled when Lindsay agreed to fill in for a few issues (issues #96-98). I’ll be coming back to draw issues #99 and #100, which will conclude the Four Blades storyline, but overall, I’m really happy with Lindsay’s work and I’m enjoying working with her and continuing the writing process for Sabrina. #99 is due out in late December with #100 scheduled for mid-February.
Q: What can you say about your plans leading up to Sabrina #100, which I assume is going to be some kind of special event?
A: Yes, it will be a very big event — the final battle between Sabrina and the Four Blades and their enemy, who will be revealed soon. The battle will bring back old characters and new allies, and things that happened all the way back in the first few issues of my run (#58 and on) will take on a new meaning. However, there cannot be a battle without casualties and, tragically, one of the characters won’t make it. But that’s all I can reveal for now!
As for after 100, let me just say that I intend to keep working on Sabrina for as long as Archie will have me! If fans enjoy Sabrina, I encourage them to write in and let Archie know! And, of course, pick up the books!
Q: Are you working on anything other than Sabrina right now?
A: I continue to work with my husband on our personal project, The Dollar Dreadful Family Library, which we debuted at MoCCA last year. These are a series of short stories with illustrated covers (and some illustrated interiors) that are inspired by the Penny Dreadfuls and Dime Novels of the late 1800’s/early 1900’s. Our goal is to create entertaining, escapist stories in the Victorian style, and eventually we hope to recruit other writers. We’ve also just launched our online store, thebazaarium.com, where people can purchase these and other Victorian-inspired goods.
I’m currently redesigning my website for my webcomic My Poorly Drawn Life, where I will be selling Volume 1 of MPDL. It’s a 450-page bound edition of my comic, complete with bonus content. I’m also updating the webcomic weekly.
I almost forgot to mention Katy Keene! I wrote some scripts months ago for a four-part mini-series with art by Anna-Maria Cool. She used to work on the Barbie comic in the 80s, so she really knows how to draw beautiful girls in world filled with fashion and adventure! I’m glad to be working with her. Each issue will be a stand-alone story, but together they’ll form an arc of Katy’s experiences in modeling.
Plus, I’m in the beginning stages of a two-book series for Tokyopop about Quinceaneras, which is the coming-of-age ceremony for 15-year-old Latino girls.
Q: Do you have any comment on the Tokyopop contract discussions? If I recall correctly, you participated in one of their early Rising Stars of Manga competitions, but you didn’t do anything else for them until now.
A: In general, I avoid trying to comment on other people’s contracts, and I keep my own contractual deals to myself. I’m not a lawyer (which is why I hire one to help me with my own contracts), but I have to admit the Pilot Program contract didn’t seem all that appealing to me at a first glance. But if I was trying to break into the industry, sure, I would consider it as a way to get my work seen. Sabrina, Sonic, and Spider-Man were all work-for-hire agreements so maybe that’s why I’m more open to situations where you accept that you don’t have ownership of the characters, etc. But if I was asked to sign away the rights to my own creation, or the rights to control my own creation, that would be a little more difficult, and I would have to carefully weigh the pros and cons of such a situation.
Anyway, a year ago, I signed a contract to do a one-volume book for Tokyopop about Quinceaneras. They approached me directly with the idea. They wanted me to make a script for it and illustrate it so, again, it was a purely work-for-hire situation. However, after completing the scipt and thumbnails, there was a change of plans. They told me they wanted to split the one volume into two, to give the story more space to be told.
I agreed to do it just days before the shakeup at Tokyopop, and for a while, I wasn’t sure if my book made the cut. But the last thing I’ve heard is that it’s still a go, so I’m currently working on the new scripts. I will be penciling it as well, but due to my work on Sabrina, I asked that they find another inker and toner. One thing I’ve realized over the years is that I really love the writing process of comics above all. With future projects I think I want to focus primarily on the writing aspect — because I really do enjoy it!
My thanks to Tania for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m looking forward to seeing how she wraps up her massive story arc in Sabrina #100!