“There’s something unusual about Pamela Isley,” reads the description for Poison Ivy: Thorns, a new YA graphic novel from DC Comics, written by New York Times bestselling author Kody Keplinger, and illustrated by Sara Kipin, with colors by Jeremy Lawson. Keplinger and Kipin shared this exclusive first look at the book's interior artwork.
“Pamela Isley doesn’t trust other people, especially men. They always want something from her. Something she’s not willing to give,” it continues. “When cute, goth girl Alice Oh comes into Pamela’s life after an accident at the local park, she makes her feel like pulling back the curtains and letting the sunshine in. But there are dark secrets deep within the Isley house. Secrets Pamela’s father has warned must remain hidden. Secrets that could turn deadly and destroy the one person who ever cared about Pamela; or as her mom preferred to call her…Ivy.”
In writing the book, Keplinger, author of The DUFF, said her goal was writing a book her fifteen-year-old self would’ve loved. “And an angsty gothic romance complete with creepy plants, a big spooky house, and two girls kissing definitely fits the bill.”
"I'm a huge fan of gothic literature; the aesthetic, the complex morality, the high drama," she tells me. "I wanted the story to feel romantic, but also eerie and moody."
She says Poison Ivy has been her favorite comic book character since she saw her on Batman: The Animated Series as a girl. “In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I had a crush on her. How could I not?” she tells me. “Add to that the fact that she’s canonically bisexual, and you just have a character that feels tailor made for my interests as a nature-loving, gay makeup enthusiast.”
Keplinger was excited to lean into the character's bisexuality. Pamela and Alice "get to be just as swoony and angsty and dramatic as any other couple in a modern gothic. It was fun to write queer girls in the kind of narrative straight characters get to be in all the time."
Even though the story is a gothic romance, Keplinger and Kipin had a lot of fun making the book. Writing a book about Poison Ivy “was absolutely a childhood dream come true,” says Keplinger.
Kipin added that she had a lot of fun diving into the more dramatic gothic parts of the story. “I really liked how broody she was,” she laughs, “I loved being able to draw an angsty girl character, and portraying those negative emotions.
She also loves that she got to tell an unconventional type of queer love story. “I often feel LGBTQ+ characters don't have as many opportunities to safely exist in horror,” she says, “so it was fun to pour my own identity and likes into this story.”
Poison Ivy: Thorns is available on June 1.