Author switches gears to write The Plain Janes



Cecil Castellucci



She already had two novels published and was working on a third, but Cecil Castellucci was forced to learn how to write all over again for her latest project.

The 37-year-old former Montrealer, now living in Los Angeles, is the author of The Plain Janes, the first book from DC Comics’ new Minx imprint — graphic novels aimed primarily at young, female readers.

Figuring out how to go from her successful experiences penning young adult novels like Boyproof and The Queen Of Cool to the sequential storytelling of comics was a thrill, but took some getting used to, Castellucci admits.

“It was totally exciting because I love writing and I love telling stories and I like telling them in many, many different ways,” she said in a recent telephone interview from L.A.

“It was difficult to figure out at first how to move the action forward with panels. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I was completely overwhelmed.

“But (artist) Jim Rugg really had my back and he drew the first seven pages from the first seven pages of script that I’d written and once I saw those pages and I saw how my words could be translated into a picture, then I began to understand how to move the action forward.”

The novel centres around four teenage girls named Jane who find friendship as they undertake a guerrilla art project that turns their whole community on its ear.

“It’s about the reject table at lunch and trying to find beauty in the world and trying to make friends with people who are being true to themselves,” Castellucci said.

“I think everybody feels like they were a misfit in high school a little bit, even the popular kids, and so I think that everyone will find a bit of themselves in one of the many characters in there.”

Helping to launch the Minx line and to produce stories that will hopefully get more young girls reading comics is exciting, the author said, but she doesn’t necessarily want The Plain Janes labelled as a “girl book.”

“I always think it’s silly when we say ‘this is specifically a girl book’ or ‘this is specifically a boy book,’” Castellucci said. “People like a good story.”

As for whether this was a one-time thing or a life-changing experience…?

“I loved working on The Plain Janes, I loved working with Jim Rugg, I loved working with (editor) Shelly Bond,” the author said.

“It was an awesome, awesome experience and I’m chomping at the bit to do another comic book or graphic novel.”

women of comics

  • Cecil Castellucci is just one of two dozen female comic book creators who will be participating in the second annual Women Of Comics symposium June 8-10 during the Paradise Toronto Comicon at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place.

  • Other notable creators attending: Svetlana Chmakova (Dramacon), Patricia Mulvihill (100 Bullets), Nicola Scott (Birds Of Prey), Gail Simone (Birds Of Prey) and Raina Telgemeier (The Baby-Sitters Club).

  • Full guest lists and details can be found at: and