Q&A with Scott Hales for The Garden of Enid, Part 2 February 02 2017
What are some of the themes that pop up in part 2?
As I was writing The Garden of Enid, I was interested in unpacking ideas about faith, history, human connection, and truth. Part two is especially interested in truth—one of the slipperiest words in language and Mormonism. For much of the book, Enid is trying to anchor herself to some kind of monolithic notion of truth. She wants to finds something stable in the universe, but she finds that the closer she thinks she gets to monolithic truth, the less monolithic it appears.
I think her journey encourages readers to reflect on the value of truth and how they want it to function in their own lives.
Cameos played a big role in part 1. Who are some of the cameos that we can expect in part 2?
Joseph Smith continues to make cameos in part two, as do Eliza R. Snow, Evan Stephens, and the Book of Abraham mummy. Enid also talks with people like Jane Austen, Karl Maeser, Doctor Philastus Hurlbut, Charles Anthon, George A. Smith, and Juanita Brooks. The lost 116 pages and Joanna Brooks’ Book of Mormon Girl also make appearances.
Some of my favorite cameos in part two involve fictional or mythological figures from pop culture. Enid talks with Matt and Mandy from The Friend magazine, Big Foot, and Charlie Brown.
The most significant cameo in the book, however, is the late Mormon scholar Eugene England, who dresses like the Angel Moroni and acts like Virgil in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Unlike other cameo characters, who always show up in simple four-panel comics, Eugene takes Enid on a five-page odyssey through space and time, belief and doubt.
How does her relationship with her mother develop in part 2?
The relationship becomes much rockier in part two. Enid looks to her mother’s past for answers about her own identity, but she often goes about it the wrong way. She and her mother have a traumatic falling out, and much of the book is about what happens after their relationship hits the fan. In both books, Enid struggles to see her mother as a real person, which causes her to say and do hurtful things to her mother. In part two, things go from bad to worse, but they also get better in unforeseen ways.
What do you think Enid learns about herself in part 2?
At the end of part one, Enid begins to see herself as someone who is capable of having meaningful relationships with other people. In part two, she learns that cultivating such relationships makes her vulnerable to the raw emotions that define human experience. This make her a much more awkward and vulnerable character than the weird Mormon girl we saw in part one, but it also makes her more endearing and relatable. Her heart gets much bigger in part two.
What are some of the challenges you have felt in writing this story?
Writing Enid’s story rarely felt like a challenge. Perhaps my biggest challenge was never letting my natural reserve get in the way of her audacity. Enid and I share many of the same interests, but we have different temperaments. Maybe that’s why I found her story so easy to write.
Of course, many of the comics touch on controversies within Mormonism, and addressing them with sensitivity was sometimes a challenge. Some satirists like to aggravate wounds, but my satire is meant to sting like antiseptic.
What do you hope readers will take away from Enid’s life?
I hope people will read Enid and decide to stop being sucky to each other. In other words, I hope Enid’s life brings about world peace and better music on the radio.
I also hope people will read Enid and be inspired to tell stories of their own. Mormonism is an inexhaustible landscape for creative people. I hope better writers and artists than me will read Enid and want to draw on their own experiences with Mormonism to tell stories that enrich our understanding of and appreciation for the Mormon landscape.
Will there be a part 3? There has to be a part 3. I mean, there really, really has to be a part 3.
Part three is always a possibility. I have an idea for a comic about Enid’s last summer before she goes to college. The Garden of Enid has always unfolded in real time, however, and I don’t know if I have the time this summer to do that with this story. I’ll probably start drawing it anyway to see where it goes. If I end up showing Enid as a freshman in college, so be it. I’m sure it will be awkward.
But I don’t plan to start a part three until I finish my current serial comic, Chronicles of Wyler, which is a kind of spin-off prequel to The Garden of Enid. Readers of The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Girl, Part One know Wyler from Enid’s EFY experience. Chronicles of Wyler tells the story, more or less, of how Wyler got to EFY. I’m almost finished with it, but one Wyler comic takes about three times longer to draw than an Enid comic—and I have much less time to devote to it than I had when I was drawing Enid comics all the time.
Chronicles of Wyler is a different reading experience than The Garden of Enid, and has a much smaller fan base, but I think readers who like Enid will like Wyler’s story as well.