S.E. Hinton, who brought us The Outsiders, is the latest author to venture into the world of graphic novels.

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IF YOU WERE WHAT the book-publishing industry refers to as a young adult anytime after 1967, there’s a good chance that S.E. Hinton played a substantial role in your adolescence. When she was just 18 years old, Hinton published her classic novel The Outsiders, which grabbed hold of several generations of young minds. She followed that up with others, including Rumblefish and That Was Then, This is Now, which also struck a chord with many kids.

Now 61 years old and at work on a screenplay as well as on a collection of short stories, Hinton is stepping into yet another arena: graphic novels. The author recently teamed up with independent publishing house Bluewater Productions to create graphic-novel adaptations of her young-adult title Taming the Star Runner and her out-of-print kids book, The Puppy Sister. The first, which bears the oh-so-slightly-altered title Taming of the Star Runner, is out now; The Puppy Sister will hit stores this summer. Hinton will also collaborate with Bluewater on a new work that she says will be similar to The Outsiders. American Way recently chatted with Hinton about her move into the picture show.

How did your move into graphic novels come about?
[The head of Bluewater] contacted me. He just asked me if I’d be interested in doing graphic novels. I’d never done one. Never read one.

What sold you on the idea?
The biggest appeal to me in the beginning was that it would be something new. I’ve been trying a lot of different things lately, and my reaction was, “Sure, I’ll try this — The Puppy Sister is out of print, and I’d love to bring it back as a graphic novel.” I’m pretty proud of that book, actually.

What has it been like to watch them transform your work into graphic novels?
With Taming of the Star Runner, I thought the first cover version was a little static. It showed a kid feeding an apple to a horse. The horse in that book would bite your hand off. They’re doing the writing. If I have a problem, I contact them. In the beginning, I think the dialogue was a little bit too much. I’m kind of looking at the graphic novel as something like a screenplay, in which the visual should really play a huge part. I don’t think there should be a lot of blah blah blah. It should get to the point with the dialogue.

Have you already started working on the third book?
I’ve been mulling over the characters and the settings. But until I really get ready to sit down and write it [I won’t talk about it much].

Do you ever think about taking some of your older works in the graphic-novel direction?
No. With The Outsiders, it would almost seem like sacrilege. I’m not saying it’s holy scripture, but some of my readers think it is. They’re very defensive of the book.


Now with Pictures


IT’S BEEN 24 YEARS SINCE Art Spiegelman published Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, his graphic novel about the Holocaust. By releasing an animated book about such a serious topic, Spiegelman introduced a new audience to the genre, demonstrating that not all comics were of the “BAM!” and “POW!” variety. Since that time, authors who typically work on wordier projects have started to ink, er, eke out a place for themselves in the world of graphic novels. Here are a few notable examples.

• Paul Auster’s 1985 novel, The City of Glass, was reworked and released as a graphic novel in 2004.

• Marvel Comics continues to release prequel comics based on Stephen King’s seven-part series, The Dark Tower.

• Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin published an original graphic novel, Dark Entries, in August 2009.

• The first graphic-novel translation of Stephenie Meyer’s inescapable Twilight series was released in March.

• Best-selling author Janet Evanovich will go graphic in a big way this July with Troublemaker, Book 1, which sees her popular Alex Barnaby character get animated. Publisher Dark Horse Comics plans a 100,000-copy first run.