For Amy Chu ’89, the third career is the charm. After getting her M.B.A. and working in management consulting, she started publishing comic books in 2011. During the course of researching the industry, she tried her hand at writing comics … and it stuck. She’s since written for Marvel and DC Comics, and she has just started working on a new Netflix adult animation show. Her second middle-grade graphic novel, Sea Sirens, inspired by L. Frank Baum’s The Sea Fairies, was published this summer.
Is it hard to juggle different characters and writing styles?
That’s the fun part, because every character is different, every story is different. I feel like the audience changes for every character, and I enjoy trying different things for different audiences. The format of writing a graphic novel in itself is different because the pacing is different, the scheduling is different, but also because the audience is younger. But I’m aware that a lot of adults and young adults like to read [graphic novels], too.
Do your kids read your work?
They read all my scripts. And they’re pretty brutal.
How did Sea Sirens get started?
My friend Janet Lee is the artist, and it was her idea. She read the original book and said, “Let me know what you think.” It’s a 100-year-old story, so we thought, “Let’s give it a breath of fresh air.” This is my first major children’s graphic novel, [and] we got it on the first try. It’s crazy. And [the publisher] wanted a two-book deal. I don’t know what life I’m living here.
How did you come up with a Vietnamese-American surfer girl and her one-eyed surfing cat?
The one-eyed cat is the evolution of the original Cap’n Bill. I’ve gotten a couple of questions about why make [Trot] Asian. Why not? It’s Southern California. This is really why I did it. There are so few characters that are Asian-American, and if you look at the demographics of Southern California, there are lot of communities that are between 30 to 50 percent Asian. I think representation is very important … but I didn’t want to make it just about that. This was really meant to be a wonderful underwater adventure, so it was just adding nuance.
Are you a surfer?
No, no. I’m actually horrible in the water. What I thought was interesting is trying to subvert some of the stereotypes—[that] Asian-Americans are the smart kids. I was trying to go outside that.
Garrett is a freelance writer based in the Boston area.