The comic book Female Force: Kamala Harris projects Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate as full of grit and determination, a person whose no-nonsense approach and biracial heritage make her a popular member of the Democratic party.
The 22-page book drops October 21, a day after Kamala Harris turns 56. But Michael Frizell, the author of the comic book, says it is not focused on the November 3 elections.
In an interview with indica News, Frizell takes us behind the scenes of the making of Female Force: Kamala Harris.
How did the idea to work on a comic book about Senator Kamala Harris come about?
TidalWave Comics [the publisher] has been in the business of telling stories about powerful women for a while now. Early in the year, Darren Davis, the publisher, asked me to consider writing a biography comic book about Kamala Harris because she was a presidential candidate and was advancing quickly in the ranks of the Democrat party. After doing some preliminary research, I agreed to take the project.
Did you speak to Harris before writing Female Force: Kamala Harris?
TidalWave often reaches out to the people they wish to profile. Some respond, but some, unfortunately, do not. We didn’t hear from her [Harris] or her team, but that’s not surprising. She was in the midst of a presidential run and, little did we know, being vetted as Joe Biden’s running mate.
I researched Ms Harris by reading hundreds of articles about her, watching countless hours of video interviews to capture the flow and rhythm of her speech patterns, and scrolled through her social media pages. I look for multiple sources for all of the events I chronicle in the comic book to ensure accuracy.
There must be a lot of information about Kamala Harris out there. Was it hard to extract the best points?
You’re right! There’s a lot of information about Kamala Harris available. My task is to tell the story of her life in 22 pages or about 100 pictures.
During the research phase, I divide the script into three parts: Childhood/Schooling/Family, Professional Work/Career, and Controversies/Lessons Learned.
I weave the information together, sometimes by telling the reader what happened. I save significant or personal events for further exploration by showing them a dramatized scene. I don’t want the book to read like a Wikipedia page. I want a fully realized story about her.
It’s a tough balance. I don’t have room to share everything I learned, so I pick and choose events to give the reader some insight into who she is and how she thinks.
Is the comic book focused on the November 3 election?
No. Although we end with her nomination as Mr Biden’s running mate, most of the book explores who she is as a person.
When did you start working on this? How long does a book of this sort take to produce?
It takes about a month to write the script. Edits take another week or so depending on the feedback from TidalWave. The artist worked for several weeks behind the scenes, even as I added a new ending to the book. Our comic was in progress before Joe Biden added her to the team. All told, it takes about 8-10 weeks from research to writing, to art, to lettering, to final editing, to print.
Anything interesting you learned while working on her project?
I didn’t know much about Ms Harris before starting my research. I’d heard her speak at the debates and found her fascinating. Still, it wasn’t until I dug deep into the research that I discovered she grew up in Berkeley, California, and was part of the second class to integrate into the public school system fully.
Three years after the landmark Brown versus the Board of Education ruling, she was in first grade and attended a school that was only 2.5 percent black. In 1970, when she was in second grade, the school was 40.2 percent black. That integration happened during her formative years. I believe it made her a champion of equal rights for all races.