Life, Heartbreak, and Venture Bros. – ‘Heart in a Box’ writer Kelly Thompson gets personal

If you”ve ever had your heart broken, you probably wished you could stop feeling anything at all. HEART IN A BOX is the story of what might happen if that wish came true. In a moment of bleak heartbreak, Emma wishes her heart away and an enigmatic stranger obliges. But it turns out you need your heart. What follows is a journey across the country as Emma tracks down the pieces of her heart and is forced to face her own past. 

Written by Kelly Thompson (JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS, STORYKILLER), with art by Meredith McClaren (HINGES), HEART IN A BOX will resonate with anyone who”s ever felt human emotion.

I spoke to Kelly Thompson via email to get the details on what to expect from this graphic novel from Dark Horse Comics before it goes on sale September 16th!

Image Credit: Dark Horse Comics/Meredith McClaren

HITFIX HARPY: How did you come up for the idea behind “Heart In A Box”?
KELLY THOMPSON: Perhaps unsurprisingly, HIAB was inspired by a real life heartbreak. Shocking, right?! Yes, the first draft of HIAB was absolutely written as a way to cope with a broken heart. However, and it's probably my favorite thing about HIAB, overtime HIAB really evolved into something larger than just dealing with romantic heartbreak. Early drafts of the script were very focused on the romantic heartbreak angle, but after much revision it turned into something much larger and more far reaching. There's nothing wrong with stories that deal solely with heartbreak of course, but I was really happy that we ended up doing more than that. That it became a story about ALL kinds of love and loss, not just romantic love and loss. Ultimately the story has more weight and importance to me and is more relatable. 

Did you know the artist – Meredith McClaren – beforehand?
KELLY: No, I actually found Meredith through my friend and colleague Sophie Campbell (who works with me on JEM & THE HOLOGRAMS). She knew Meredith and her work and thought she might be a good fit for HIAB. I took one look at Meredith's work and knew she'd be a brilliant fit. Fortunately when I approached Meredith she liked HIAB and we got to work right away. It turned out to be a wonderful collaboration in every way – and I got a friend out of it as well.

Despite the fantasy premise (and murder), Emma”s journey is a universal story of love, loss, and finding yourself. Do you hope that will resonate?
KELLY: Yes, absolutely. As I said before, I think the original story of HIAB – one of romantic love – was reasonably relatable but less so than where we ended up which is a journey of love and loss and finding yourself that can apply to almost everyone in some way. I think no matter who you are there's a way to see Emma in yourself and to see her journey – for good and ill – and I sort of love that our book ended up specifically being for people who actually might NOT relate to romantic love stories. 

Bob is an enigmatic character. Even though there”s no time in the story, do you have an idea of how “distribution” and other aspects of the heart trade work?
KELLY: Yeah, I mean, we deliberately didn't focus on those aspects because that's not what the story is about since it's about Emma's journey and not the larger “Heart In A Box World” if you will. Emma sort of “seeing too much behind the curtain” diminished Emma's journey and shifted our focus too much from the point. It was important for this volume to stay focused specifically on how Bob's world affected Emma's life and journey and not Emma's exploration of Bob's world. But, yeah, I have some ideas about how the heart trade works and what it all means and those would definitely be things that we would explore if we ever did more work in the HIAB universe. 

You left yourself an opening for a sequel. Is that in the works?
KELLY: We're not working on one right now, no. But we did deliberately leave it a bit open ended so that if we felt strongly that there was more story to tell, that we could return to Emma and her world and tell it. Meredith and I will have to talk – after she's sufficiently rested! – and see if we have something we still want to say, something that needs to be said. 

Who”s your favorite Venture Bros. character?
KELLY: Oof. Way to save the toughest question for last! They're all so great. I suppose it's maybe Brock Samson, or The Monarch, of perhaps it's actually Dr. Mrs. The Monarch, who clearly has the greatest name of all time.

Need more? Check out a sneak peek from the first few pages of “Heart In A Box” below!