From Women Writers, Women’s Books:
Abi Behe, a 13-year-old Londoner has agreed a book deal with UK publisher Markosia for her graphic novels Christiania and Charlie Dirtbags. Co-created with comic artists Taka, Thomas Muzzell and Thomas John, both books will come out in 2023.
Released this spring, Christiania is set in Freetown – Copenhagen’s crown jewel of artist expression – and centres on social media’s disruptive impact on a defiant Danish teenage girl. After her parents are forced out of the community, a Christiania is left to raise herself and thrives despite excessive peer pressure – until a close connection seeking online fame begins aggressively targeting her.
“When I thought about making the female character, I wanted her to have experiences similar to girls my age,” says writer Abi Behe. “I hope people can relate to her because I sometimes feel how she feels in the story.”
In the tradition of noir Danish comics portraying idealistic societies with a darker, dysfunctional underworlds, the lead character is a personification of Freetown – an energetic community resisting mainstream superficiality whilst struggling to deal with crime within its boundaries.
“Christiania the girl represents what the real place is all about,” says Behe. “She has gone through all sorts of problems over the years and survived. But then a social media villain tries to destroy Christiania’s real spirit.”
The book’s artist Taka created wordless double-page spreads to emulate the vivid multi-character street art created on the walls throughout Freetown – a stark contrast to rapid-fire content streams flowing in the dark digital world it seeks to expose.
“We wanted to make big two-page scenes without text so readers could soak up each picture and calmly pick up all the meaning,” says Abi. “This is completely different to reading lots of social media messages or news feeds on our phone.”
Both of Behe’s books are set in the world of Contraband, an exploding dark web app attracting people jaded with state censorship, sponsored spam and cancel-culture on mainstream social media. Contraband becomes a criminal digital underground where profit hungry mobs prowl city streets filming radical events to satisfy society’s insatiable demand for sensational content. But when activists hack the app giving control to any influencer with the most followers, chaos ensues as people everywhere go to any lengths to get the money and fame of being Contraband #1.
Link to the rest at Women Writers, Women’s Books
PG says this sounds like more difficult situations than he would have enjoyed when he was 13. He also wonders if the target audience for these books includes children.