This is Reserve Agent Andrew checking in again for another San Diego Comic Con update! I woke up bright and early Friday morning to go see Evangeline Lilly talk about her children’s book “The Squickerwonkers.” Haven’t heard of it? Prepare to get the low down on a creepy tale from LOST‘s Kate.
Evangeline Lilly originally appeared at SDCC 2013 to promote her book while she was self-publishing it. This year she has Titan Books doing a new print of the book that she has re-edited, making the original a collector’s item. This new edition is printed on recycled paper and uses soy-based ink. Lilly wrote the poem that the story is based on when she was fourteen years old. The story follows a little girl named Selma as she is tempted away from a fair into a mysterious travelling wagon. There she is introduced to the Squickerwonkers, a family of marionettes each with their own terrible vice. Lilly described the story as a cautionary tale that doesn’t paint characters in black-and-white.
The book is illustrated by Johnny Frasier-Allen, who Lilly met at WETA while working on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. While she had the idea for the story since she was fourteen, it took the creative inspiration of working with Peter Jackson on the Hobbit set to push her to become a published author. The art style of the book is aged watercolors, which were all done digitally. Lilly described the book as a “feast for the eyes” and that the “linework is incredible.” Several images from the book were shown and looked incredibly detailed and colorful.
Evangeline Lilly doesn’t consider this a ‘vanity project’ because she has always dreamt of being an author. She has always recieved support from her mother, but her son wasn’t interested. Of course that was when he was only two years old. Now, she says, he can’t wait to read more.
Original designs for the marionettes went through some last minute redesigns. Initially, they were drawn with buttons for eyes. Lilly said she hadn’t seen or read Neil Gaiman’s Coraline until screenwriter Phillipa Boyens (The Lord of the Rings series) saw the designs and showed her Henry Selick’s film. Fraiser-Allen then redrew every set of eyes on the marionette family to be coins, which Lilly wanted to mimic Irish folklore regarding death.
Before Lilly appeared on stage, part of the soundtrack for the interactive digital book was played. It evoked thoughts of carnivals and travelling caravans. Lilly also revealed that former Doctor Who star Sylvester McCoy will be narrating the digital book. The digital book will include secret sections that reveal more of the Squickerwonker world.
There are 18 books planned in the Squickerwonker series, each following a different character. One fan during the Q&A stated that he loved how developed each character is in the self-published version he bought last year. Lilly revealed that the Squickerwonkers are “characters almost all based on people I know,” but wouldn’t name names. She also said Dr. Seuss’ writing was a major influence, if you couldn’t tell from the title.
The book will be available in November in both new hardcover and digital editions from Titan Books.