In honor of Valentine’s Day and all things Fresh Romance, we’re releasing The Only One, a beautifully illustrated short story that spans decades in the space of 10 pages, on February 14th. The comic was created by a trio of insanely talented women, written by Cecil Castellucci with colors and layout by Sarah Winifred Searle and finishes by Irene Koh!
Recently, we sat down with Cecil Castellucci to talk about writing The Only One, and so, without any further ado, let’s dive in!
Emet: Your story “The Only One” features two characters, with incredibly rich, detailed lives, who for some reason or another never seem to find each other romantically. What is the central theme or idea that you explore through this story?
Cecil: Thank you! I hope to give all of my characters rich lives. I find that specific details make them more robust. But I would beg to differ, I think they do find each other from the very beginning. The idea that I wanted to explore in “The Only One” is how we are constantly meeting kindred spirits and people with which we have profound connections with, but sometimes we just don’t see it, or the timing doesn’t work out, or we are stubborn. That is why I’ve always believed that there is no “one” true love for anyone, but “ones” that we just need to be in the right time, space, and mindset for.
Emet: You did something really unique with “The Only One”, as each page is split up into thirds with each section depicting a moment from three different parts of these character’s long lives. What inspired you to go with this framing device?
Cecil: I read an article once about this theory that all of time is taking place at the same moment. It suggested that we experience time linearly, but really it’s all the beginning and the end. That was one way of my thinking about this story, that the thread of love is happening at the same time for this couple. That together they are moving through time and yet still having it happen all at once.
I know for myself, there are people who I have loved, are long out of my life, and still feel very present. If saw them tomorrow, I know it would stir up the same emotions as if I had been in their life every day since the last moment they were there. The other important thing was that I thought this framing technique was a way to really utilize and highlight the medium of comics. You can’t really do parallel story like this with prose, it just doesn’t work. But with sequential storytelling you can really communicate the idea of how ever-present and enormous a life-long love is, even as time passes. I had seen something interesting like that done in Ray Fawkes’ “One Soul” and used that as my inspiration for how I could tell this story.
Emet: What was your development process and how did you make sure this uniquely framed and time-jumping story made sense?
Cecil: I thought of it in two panels and A B C stories. I wanted each panel from each timeline to fit together and help the reader fill in all the blanks in regards to what happened in the missing parts of the story. It was a bit of a puzzle. I think it makes sense. I hope it does…
Emet: Don’t worry, it does.
The story is told from your character Gigi’s point of view, but the story itself is a journey for both her and Eugene. What made you decide that it was Gigi’s inner-monologue that was most important for the story?
Cecil: I feel as though Gigi was the natural person to tell the story because she really saw her connection with Eugene from the get go. She really holds the torch for him and he’s kind of clueless. I think with a long love affair like that, there is always someone who has to be the “keeper of the heart”. Gigi is proactive, romantic, and able to let go and then open up again. I think Eugene is blind. Although, it would be interesting to figure out why he just didn’t clue in immediately! I think the complexity of the three storylines made it essential to pick one character to tell it from or else it would have been too confusing.