A comic book isn’t exactly the natural next step for two actors who have hit it on CBS and Broadway, respectively, but Beth Behrs and Matt Doyle are taking a blind leap into a graphic world they’ve been dreaming of entering for years.
Behrs, one of the titular heroines of CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, and Doyle, a Broadway leading man with credits like The Book of Mormon and War Horse under his belt, are childhood best friends turned co-creators of Dents, a new digital comic series launching May 13 on LINE Webtoon.
Set in a dystopian 2111, Dents follows the human side effects of a plague that wiped out half the earth’s population and resulted in a rise in the birth of identical twins (dubbed “dents”) who bear special, dangerous powers. Fourteen-year-old Eleanor learns she’s one of them and quickly finds herself forced to survive on the fringes of society with the other exiled Dents.
Speaking with EW, Behrs shares the roots of her 26-chapter comic book series and how she caught the comic bug:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did something like a comic book present itself as a new venture for you?
BETH BEHRS: It was three or four years ago, and Matt and I were having dinner here in New York, and he had told me about this dream he had about twins with superpowers. I remember just talking about it and thinking it would make a really good TV series or movie or something. That was kind of it. We talked about it like, “We should totally do that, someday.” And then a few years later, I started getting super into comic books because of Matt. He was reading Saga on the train, and then I read it, and I just became hooked. Then I met Tom Akel, who’s the editor of LINE Webtoon here in the United States, and he was talking to me about digital comics, and if I ever had anything… and I was like, “Well, it’s so interesting, Matt and I had this idea years ago and it actually would make a really good comic.” And here we are.
Did the story suddenly click in deeper with comics as a potential medium?
I think the idea of what you can do with a graphic novel is almost cinematic, in a way. I’m so happy that it is in this medium, because it’s been quite a challenge, but a cool and beautiful challenge. Matt and I have a very deep, emotional life and truth that we want to be a part of our lead character, Eleanor, and it’s challenging to get that across in five panels per page.
Do you still dabble in pursuing the idea beyond this form?
Ultimately, eventually, it could be everything! It could be a comic and a series and a movie. The ultimate goal is still there, too.
At least in this form, you get to tell your purest version of this story, as you want it told.
Exactly. It’s fun that we get 26 chapters and perhaps more if it goes well. We have the whole series broken out, all 26, but it’s crazy to do it bit by bit and make sure we’re getting in all the information that we need. It’s been super different for us. We grew up doing musicals together, so it’s kind of like the two nerdiest things: musical theater and comic books.
Did you find yourself tapping into your background, be it TV or theater, when breaking story?
Well, yes. A lot of the characters are based on people in our real lives, including, a villain [based on] someone that I had as my arch-nemesis.
Will he or she recognize that?
I don’t know. I kind of hope not, actually! But Matt and I are very passionate. We grew up in the San Francisco Bay area together and are both very passionate about the outdoors. It was such a part of our everyday life, being outside and hiking, so it was also really important for us to include the elements of our hometown. The Dents’ commune is set in Bolinas, which is a really small beach town beyond the Redwoods up in Marin County. It’s been fun to draw from our own life in that way, and the series includes elements of climate change, which was really important for us. We wanted to include sociopolitical elements into it, too.
What about your acting background? What layer does that add?
We’ve both been trained as actors, and we tell stories everyday for a living, so that’s definitely been influencing and challenging to get into a comic book. Luckily, we have an incredible artist that, Sid Kotian, who’s been basically the third voice in breaking all this, and he’s been amazing and wonderful at showing human emotion.
Was there a challenge in keeping this young adult-focused instead of adult?
Not necessarily. We knew we wanted a strong but young female heroine. We were inspired by the way The Hunger Games is technically YA, but everybody can find something to relate to in it. Matt and I love YA, and so yes, of course we thought it’d be great to have these characters live in a younger section of their lives, but there are also characters who are much older than me and Matt. We hope it’ll affect everybody.
What’s your writing dynamic like, creating this thing with your best friend?
It was his dream and his baby in his head, so I always defer to him. Making climate change a huge element was really important for me to bring in social issues. We’ve actually done really well in terms of helping each other break the story. I’m very impulsive, and Matt likes to sit back and think. But it was Matt’s brainchild, literally, because he had the dream, so I always defer to him. Also, because I’ve been a comic book lover for four years, and he’s been a comic book lover since he was a little boy, he knows the medium much better than I do, but we’re both fans, and we’re both really dedicated to telling the story we want to tell.
How did your 2 Broke Girls family react to your new project?
They thought it was awesome. Kat [Dennings] and Matt Moy, they love comic books. They thought it was really cool! They’re not surprised by me. I’m a huge nerd in real life. I’m very close to [my character] Caroline in some ways, but I’m also very far from Caroline in many ways. The other day I texted them that I was going to do a triathlon, and they were like, “Oh yeah, of course you are.” I like to keep it interesting and explore new challenges. Like a triathlon. Or a comic book!