Posted November 22, 2017 by Mari Linsangan in Comics


If you had the chance, would you go back and change certain things in your life? In The Altered History of Willow Sparks, Willow finds a mysterious book that allows her to alter her life. But she’ll soon discover that every action we make has consequences. Even if we can’t really rewrite our own lives, maybe diving into Willow’s life can give us the satisfaction of knowing what happens when we do. We had an interview with the book’s creator Tara O’Connor (Roots) to talk about her graphic novel.

FLIPGEEKS:  First of all, who is Tara O’Connor?willow

Tara O’Conner: I’m a comic artist living in the woods in New Jersey. I’ve been drawing since before I could remember, and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do! I drink way too much coffee and tea, and on any given day, there’s a 90% chance that all my meals consisted of cereal.

How did you start illustrating and writing your own comics?

I was an anime kid for the most part, and while I enjoyed drawing Sailor Scouts endlessly, I wanted to branch out and create my own characters. I also really loved creating stories, and I loved drawing, so it all kind of came together naturally.

How do you go about making comics?

I like making stories set in reality, but always try to put in a bit of a supernatural bent. I do feel MOST stories have this kind of formula: something relatable but with something unbelievable and surreal happening alongside everything.

Do you have a day job or work outside making comics?

Yes, I do, I teach comics and storyboarding at a school near me.

If so, how do you balance work while making comics?

Thankfully, my class is only once a week (though it takes up the whole day) so my schedule is pretty open otherwise, which leads a lot of time for all the various comics on my plate.

Tell us something about The Altered History of Willow Sparks. What made you decide to make it?

It’s one of those stories that’s kind of been on the backburner for many years. I started writing it in 2008, and with every other comic job I got, or mini-comic I wanted to focus on, it got pushed to the side. Though, every time I came back to it, I added something new, and the story got better, so despite it taking many years to finally come to fruition, I think it was worth it in the long run. As far as the idea, it came to me when I was talking to one of my coworkers (way back in the day) who was studying to be a librarian, and she said something that sparked the idea: “In every town there’s a library–libraries have the responsibility of shaping their community.” So I took that quite literally, Mr. Ages, the librarian, Willy’s mentor of sorts, is responsible for all the people in town, watching over and protecting their books., even reshaping them if necessary.
Willow is a very relatable character, how she hates the flaws in her life and rather changes them quickly if she can. What did you feel upon creating her?

I tried to keep logic out of it. Given the opportunity, I think we’d all run with it, especially at such an age when everything seems to be going awry. At any age sometimes it’s hard to realize the consequences of your actions, even the consequences of getting what you want.

Were Willow and Georgia inspired by someone in your life? Or were they completely created for the book?

A little bit, they’re kind of a jumble of all my friends over the years. I had a “Willow” in high school, a good friend who kind of drifted in favor of a more popular crowd, and I think that’s common for a lot of people in high school and onwards as we’re all “finding ourselves.”

What is the hardest part on writing or illustrating the whole book?

I think the hardest part, for me anyway, is the writing. I’ve always been more comfortable with my art, so it was definitely a challenge, especially with this being the longest book I’ve done to date.

What is the easiest part of writing or illustrating the whole book?

I don’t know if I’d say the art is easier, but it’s more enjoyable for me–especially inking, which is easily my favorite part of the process.

What’s the big take away the readers will get from the whole story?

I think the big take away that I’d like the readers to get would be to cherish your friends. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting the approval of others and you can sometimes get carried away and forget who your real friends are, the one’s who will have your back, no matter how dorky you are.

Though the graphic novel feels complete with how it ended, is there a chance we can get more stories about Willy and her friends?

I’m not sure, actually. Probably not, but I have been thinking of revisiting the universe–perhaps to focus on Mr. Ages, the librarian, and how he ended up with his job in the first place.

Any future projects we should look forward to?alteredhistoryofwillowsparks3

I have a pitch I’m working on at the moment, and I’m also working on a comic that hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m super excited about!

Where can your fans follow your work?

I’m on Twitter more than anywhere, so you can find me there @TaraOComics. My website is also a good place to find everything.

Any words for your fans?

Yes, thank you all SO much! I can’t even believe everything that’s happened in the last year or so, but you’ve all been amazing and supportive and I’m so grateful!

Tara O’Connor’s The Altered History of Willow Sparks hits shelves January 2018 from Oni Press.

Mari Linsangan

A Production Coordinator at a small independent movie production company. But despite the busy schedule of filming, she finds time for her hobbies as she's also a bookworm, a gamer, a occasional cosplayer and a certified geek girl.