The beloved chapter book series, The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids returns as a graphic novel that is perfect for newly independent readers. Artists Pearl Low explains their process of adapting the series for the new format and new readers.
Having the opportunity to adapt The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids has been so exciting for me. I primarily work in animation as a Story Artist and I usually did small comics on the side for myself. But The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids was my first opportunity to work with a publishing house. On top of that, getting to work on such an iconic series is something I'm grateful for because it's so near-and-dear to thousands of people around the world. When asked about how I would adapt this series into graphic novels, I had to really pull from my own lived experiences and ask myself the questions, "What would I have wanted to read as a kid?" and, "What does our world look like today?"
One thing that's really important to me when I create art, is that I reflect the diversity in our real world in the stories that I create. The first step in the adaptation process for me was coming up with character designs. I was so excited that I got to include kids from backgrounds that reflected the kinds of kids I grew up with: Black, Indigenous, Asian, White and kids of mixed backgrounds.
The next step when adapting this novel was to take a look at the story. Adapting a novel into graphic novel form does affect the delivery of the story. With graphic novels you have the added element of visual storytelling that can allow for less written storytelling to take place. In the process of adapting the story, there were also some story moments I really wanted to add in to make it more personal and relatable to, say, the Black experience. For example, I was really eager to add in Melody and Eddie's interaction in the first book when Eddie decides to touch Melody's hair. That was an experience that I had as a kid and I'm sure many other Black kids can relate to as well. I'm so excited for this new generation to be introduced to this series through graphic novels and for the generations that have grown up reading these stories, to see it in a whole new way.
Pearl Low is an Afro Asian artist based in Vancouver, Canada. They work in comics and animation and won an Oscar in 2020 for their work on the short film Hair Love. The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids: Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots is available now.