Okay let’s test out this conflict of interest!
Lion Forge, whose sister company Syndicated Comics owns this website, has just announced that they will publish Hazel Newlevant’s debut graphic memoir, No Ivy League late next year. I’ve been a fan of this book since it debuted as a mini a few year’s ago, and it’s a story that’s more relevant than ever. As as a fellow homeschooler, I could certainly relate to parts of it.
Hoping to make money to see an out-of-town concert, 17-year-old Hazel Newlevant takes a summer job clearing ivy from the forest in her home town of Portland, Oregon. Homeschooled, affluent, and sheltered, Hazel finds her job working side by side with at-risk teens a new world that she has no skill in navigating. She loves hip hop, but spending time with kids who are black and Latino is a new experience for her. As the weeks pass, Hazel’s once-comfortable homeschooled skin has become more ill fitting. Things come to a head when she finds herself the butt of a black peer’s sexual insult and, instead of trying to work it out, she reports him. The consequences of her actions play out not only for the boy but for Hazel herself, as she’s forced to confront the reality of white privilege. This uncomfortable and compelling memoir is an important story of a girl’s awakening to the racial insularity of her life, the power of white privilege, and the hidden story of segregation in Portland.
“No Ivy League is an extremely vulnerable, close-to-my-heart work, and Lion Forge and Andrea Colvin are the perfect people to publish it” says creator Hazel Newlevant. “I’m excited to send this comic out into the world, where I hope it provokes both enjoyment and self-reflection.”
“Many artists gravitate toward autobiography, but Hazel’s willingness—and ability—to show those parts of herself that are unlikeable, awkward, even ugly, elevates her craft,” says Andrea Colvin, VP and Executive Editor at Lion Forge. “We identify with Hazel, because we know we have those parts of ourselves as well. We cringe with her when she makes the wrong decision, and ultimately cheer her on as she forces herself to learn from her mistakes.”
“Hazel promises to be a strong voice in the world of graphic novels that grapple with real-life issues like race, gender, class, and sexuality” says Tanya Mckinnon of Mckinnon McIntyre. “I believe this will garner much attention and possibly controversy as it speaks directly to ongoing debates about political correctness and white privilege.”
Moving into publishing this kind of indie memoir is a new kind of project for Lion Forge (but one I applaud heartily.)
And here’s a peak inside:
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.