Very few writers get a chance to write one of their favorite series from their childhood, and If you ask writer Nicole Andelfinger, she’ll tell you that getting to write the new Sweet Valley High: Best Friends graphic novel is like hitting the lottery.
Andelfinger and artist Claudia Aguirre launch a new Sweet Valley High graphic novel line this week with Best Friends (from Random House Graphic) which is the start of a new chapter and medium for the long-running series. Learn more about Andelfinger’s take on the characters and series as well as what to expect in the new graphic novel in this exclusive interview.
How did you become the writer for the first entry in a new Sweet Valley High graphic novel series?
Nicole Andelfinger: I want to say I won the lottery, but really I just got lucky in getting a call from my amazing editor, Whitney Leopard. She asked if I was a fan of Sweet Valley Twins, and all I could think about was the two shelves of very loved books that I used to have. Even outside of the series, I’ve worked with Whitney on numerous projects before, so I knew this project would be a good one. Of course I told Whitney yes, and here we are!
What is your personal history with Sweet Valley High?
Andelfinger: I voraciously read this series back when I was about 8 or 10. I had two shelves of books bought from book fairs and garage sales, and checked out the rest at the library on our near weekly visits. Sweet Valley Twins was one of my favorite series because it really captured, for me at least, those love/hate moments anyone with siblings has, but still pressed that, at the end of the day, each sibling really did love each other. It resonated with me even then!
How would describe Sweet Valley Twins: Best Friends to someone unacquainted with the novels or tv series?
Andelfinger: It’s about siblings, specifically twins, and how siblings really do love each other even when they are driving each other up the wall. Combine it with the drama of finding yourself in those turbulent middle age years, while also navigating school and friends, and that’s Sweet Valley Twins: Best Friends! Trust me when I say, even if you aren’t a twin, you’ll likely recognize at least some element of this book as being similar to your own middle school years.
You collaborated with artist Claudia Aguirre on this project. What did she bring to it in terms of her art style?
Andelfinger: Claudia brings an amazing eye for detail to this project that has really brought Sweet Valley to life. The amount of dedication she puts into the background and into making the world of Sweet Valley really resonate with today’s modern world is incredible, and is a large part of why these books look and feel so ready for today!
Do you have a favorite character in the story, and if so, why?
Andelfinger: I’ve always identified with Elizabeth, for numerous reasons. We’re both the elder sister and both have a hard time saying no. A lot of Elizabeth’s struggles in this first book felt personal to me, even though it’s been years since I’ve been in her position, so part of the fun was definitely getting to help Elizabeth come to terms with finding herself.
Memories of writing and working on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance?
Andelfinger: The Dark Crystal was such a fun project, because who doesn’t remember loving (or being terrified of) the original? Fantasy is always a fun genre, however, because you can make things fantastical and not be limited by the natural world. Getting to design those pages with Henson was a delight, and I absolutely adored getting to drive into Ordon and Fara, who didn’t get as much time in the new show.
Future or upcoming projects?
Andelfinger: Unfortunately, I can’t talk about what I’m working on right now – ask me again in a few months. But since Sweet Valley Twins features twins, check out what two of my favorite twin creators are up to! Whitney Leopard’s Fitting In is out in 2024 and Bones Leopard’s Identical is due out in 2023!
The Sweet Valley High: Best Friends graphic novel is now available in finer comic book shops and book stores everywhere.