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Goldie Vance graphic novel: Inside the making

Writer Hope Larson and artist Brittney Williams preview what’s next for this generation’s Nancy Drew

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Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars better make some room, because there’s a new detective in the house.

Meet Goldie Vance.

The comic series, set in the 1960s, follows the adventures of 16-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance as she attempts to balance her job as a valet at the Florida resort hotel where her dad works as the manager, with her penchant (and passion) for mystery-solving.

“If there’s a problem, [Goldie] wants to solve it,” says writer Hope Larson (Eisner-winning author-illustrator of A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel) of the titular sleuth’s desire to become an in-house detective. “She loves to learn, [and] she likes knowing how everything works. Because of that she knows how to do a lot of things really well. Having grown up in this hotel environment, she’s friends with everybody and she’s always got her eyes and ears open.”

But the series—which is drawn by Brittney Williams, who also serves as the artist for Marvel’s Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat—doesn’t just focus on the titular sleuth. It also features a wide range of characters including Goldie’s best friend and future astronaut Cheryl, the Crossed Palms current in-house detective Walter, and Goldie’s former friend-turned-rival Sugar Maple.

Goldie Vance is published by Boom! Box, an imprint of Boom! Studios, whose impressive line-up also includes, fan favorite Giant Days, which follows a trio of college freshmen as they navigate college, and the Eisner Award-winning Lumberjanes, which centers on a group of campers going on various supernatural-related adventures.  

With Goldie Vance’s first big adventure (and first four issues) being released as a collective volume, EW spoke to both Larson and Williams about what it takes to create a brand new world and solve a new mystery every few issues.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How would you describe the series?

Larson:It’s a throwback, girl detective book with sort of a Nancy Drew-type flavor, [as well as] a little bit Scooby Doo-ish. It’s just supposed to be a fun, girl detective story.

What makes Goldie want to be a detective?

Larson:When we were developing her character, we were thinking a lot about [how] her parents are divorced. [But] that’s not a big source of conflict in her life. Her parents are friends and she has great relationships with both of them. I don’t feel like she is missing anything in her life as a result of that, but she is a character who likes to fix things. That’s basically her thing.

The comic is set at a hotel resort. How does that inform the whole series? 

Larson: It’s really convenient to have a serialized mystery set in a hotel because you always have new people coming through from all over the world and bringing their problems with them.

Williams: The hotel is a world of its own. It’s like the never-ending pot of people and things that could happen.

You have a range of different female character types in the series. Is that something you’re thinking of as you add in new characters?

Larson: Definitely. We’re trying to write as many female characters as possible. There have even been times my editors had me switch characters from male to female, which is pretty unusual for entertainment, obviously. It’s always something that I’m always keeping in mind. Even when you’re doing that, you can always do a little bit better, so it’s nice to have editors who are pushing a little bit harder and remind you to think about.

How do you approach world building?

Larson: This is almost all completely Brittney. Brittney did all of the heavy lifting for St. Pascal, the hotel. I see all this development stuff pretty early on. So that gives me a much better sense of what the world is and I can write to that.

Williams: I know I keep going back to this, but it’s all inspiration from reading. I just take what I see from the words and go from there.

When researching the time period, was there anything in particular that influenced your writing or drawing?

Williams: For me, it was mostly old advertising magazines. I took a lot of inspiration from old ads, and classic movies.

Larson: I used [’60s TV series] Gidget a little bit for the environment and color palette, that’s sort of the look I was thinking about and it has this weird innocence to it as well.

Now that Goldie has solved her first big mystery, what’s next for her?

Larson: A bigger adventure [and] higher stakes. The thing that I was actually pretty excited to write, in the arc that is ongoing right now, is this conflict between Goldie and her best friend Cheryl, who’s been her rock. That’s what really drives the plot for this arc. 

Williams: You have this humungous mystery and at the base of it is just two friends trying to be friends again and get over their argument and their differences.

Goldie Vance Vol. 1 is currently available for purchase.