Halloween has always had a special place in my heart. I’m not really sure why, my parents didn’t make a big deal out of it. I would dress up in a costume made by my mom every year and would trick or treat around the small town we lived in. But it wasn’t something that we went above and beyond for. Still, somehow it stuck with me and grew into something bigger.
Maybe it was my love for mythology and folklore. Or maybe my love for the season of fall and how beautiful it is. It could’ve had something to do with my obsession with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Maybe it’s because as I got older, Halloween was a way to have fun, be silly, and get to once again connect with my inner child through dress-up and fun with friends.
Regardless, I love Halloween.
When the first kernel of ParaNorthern started to form in my mind, it was prompted by the idea of doing a “teen witch” book. I tried to figure out what I would want to do with something like that and it led to imagining a world where magic is everywhere and not just magic but magical beings too. Summer Break became Fall Break. And sleepy little towns like Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls inspired the aesthetic of North Haven, the town that ParaNorthern takes place in.
Of course, I couldn’t have a “teen witch” book without a young teen witch. In a world where magic is everywhere, of course Abby’s mom runs a coffee shop where potions are infused into caffeine; melding bits of our own world routines with magical influences. Rounding out the main cast involved reimagining werewolves, ghosts, and putting my own spin on pumpkinheads. How could I have a Halloween-inspired town where fall is the season of choice without having a wonderful pumpkinhead?!
There were so many elements that I pulled from to create and develop the world that ParaNorthern is set in. I lovingly built all of it quietly for years; it was something that helped me get through the days of having an awful soul-sucking job. Abby and her friends, Gita, Silas, and Hannah were my friends that told me how to tell their story and bring them all to life. And although the story did evolve quite a bit from its original to final form, the core of what I loved stayed throughout.
Mari Costa brought our comic to life in such a brilliant way, from her expressive characters to vibrant colours. Not only was the essence of fall and Halloween written into the story, but it was also brought to life with the art and colours that truly evoke those cozy fall feelings.
When I look at ParaNorthern, not only am I reminded of a story that I am extremely proud of, but it is a constant reminder of my favourite time of year. Of the times I spend with my friends when we dress up for Halloween and then go out afterwards to do costumed karaoke. Trick or treating as a kid. Dressing up and being someone else for a day. All of those memories are embedded in what I think of when I look at the book on my shelf. There are a million more little things that make me smile about the book and how it came to be, but at its core it was always a love letter to crispy leaves, sweet treats, and cool fall evenings. And of course, Halloween itself.
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