While pitching story ideas, Raina Telgemeier spoke of how much she had enjoyed The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann M. Martin as a kid. Shortly thereafter, she was offered the chance to turn four stories from the original book series into new graphic novels.
The first graphic novel adaptation was based on the very first book in the series: Kristy's Great Idea. The second, The Truth About Stacey, was recently released. There will be at least two more books in the line, which, in addition to Raina's other projects, are keeping her pretty busy. She was kind enough to give me a few minutes of her time to take part in the BSC reader survey I conducted, which led to this interview.
How old were you when you started to read The Baby-sitters Club? Do you remember which book you read first?
I read my first BSC book at age nine -- this was in 1986, the year the books were first published! I believe I ordered the first four books through my school book club catalogue, so the first one I read was book #1: Kristy’s Great Idea.
Who was your favorite BSC member?
I liked Kristy and Dawn the best. Kristy looked the most like me, and she was the leader, which was cool; Dawn was from California (also like me!), so I could relate to her, plus she had a cool secret passageway in her house! What’s not to like about that? I liked the other members okay too, just not with the same intensity. I definitely looked forward to the Kristy and Dawn books more than the others.
What was your favorite BSC book or plotline?
I remember reading about the first time the girls went to visit Stacey in New York City, after she moved back there from Stoneybrook -- New York City seemed so cool, and far-off, and exciting when I was young! Perhaps it's no wonder that I wound up living here as an adult!
Did you follow the entire series? (Super Specials, Mysteries, Portrait Collection, Friends Forever, etcetera)
I loved the Super Specials! They were such fantasies; I mean, how many groups of 13-year-old friends ever get to all go on a cruise, or to Europe, with their baby-sitting charges?! But they were great fun to read. The other special books in the series were published after I stopped reading BSC books, I think. I've gone back and read a few of them while working on the BSC graphic novels, just to flesh out some of the stories a little. I used a scene from Stacey's Portrait book in the Truth About Stacey Graphic Novel, for example, as a flashback sequence.
How much or little of the conceptual artwork had to be approved by Scholastic and Ann M. Martin before you dove in?
Ann M. Martin saw all of my development work, and had the stamp of approval poised above my drawings. Most of it she was happy with; a few things she wanted me to re-draw so they fit more closely with her vision. Nothing major, just a few hairstyles and things like that. She was overall pretty happy with my take on her characters, which is good, because I always felt like I knew the characters personally while I was growing up!
How many BSC graphic novels will be published in total? Did you get to pick which titles would become animated?
I've only got a contract for four, and who knows what will happen after that? I figured I'd better pick a really good one for each character! I like Claudia and Mean Janine [originally book #7] better than Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls [originally book #2], so I'll do that as the fourth graphic novel. The third graphic novel will be Mary Anne Saves the Day.