Artist and writer Tessa Hulls has been visiting Hong Kong and Shanghai to work on her next graphic novel. She told Instagram followers “My graphic novel is going to jump around and interweave between three timelines (1: my grandma’s birth-the Communist takeover: 1928-1949, 2: my mother’s birth-my birth: 1950-1984, and 3: “the present,” which is the least clear part of the project)”
She’s been sharing her research and the comic book diary pages she makes with her followers, taking them through her process – adding to the above quote “I’ve been intentionally studying graphic novels that use visual signifiers to denote different timelines. I think I am going to handle the issue by having a different shading color for each timeline, so expect to see color experiments as I play around with this idea.”
The novel will tell the story of single mother in Shanghai, who was able to go to college without finishing high school, who worked on right wing newspapers as a journalist before they were closed by Communist officials in the nineteen forties. Persecuted as a journalist, she managed to leave China with her young daughter, the result of an affair with a Swiss diplomat, for Hong Kong, and then later the USA.
And that’s all based on the very true story of life of Hull’s grandmother Sun Yi, who died five years ago. Working as a journalist and writer in Shanghai, her memoir published at the time, Eight Years In Shanghai, was famous at the time, and it was Hull’s decision to have it translated into English so she could read it, inspired this new work. And so Hulls took her mother with her on a trip back to Hong Kong and Shanghai to meet her Chinese family for the first time. A trip that also brought her much closer to her own mother, as she explored her mother’s relationship with her grandmother, as her carer since a young child.
Follow Tessa here for more details… though a title, a publisher and a schedule may be some time to come.