How does one begin to tell the story of Arianna Huffington?
Writer Martin T. Pierro launched into the job in perhaps the most fitting way possible: He began to aggregate his news sources.
“I never expected to be sifting through so much material,” the Florida-based author tells Comic Riffs. “I watched videos, listened to podcasts and read countless pages of information.
“I still feel there was so much more I could have uncovered.”
His aggregated portrait, “Arianna Huffington,” will hit shops and shelves next month, as Bluewater Productions releases the latest comic book in its “Female Force” line — the same series that has previously focused on figures ranging from Sarah Palin to Michelle Obama. The comic traces Huffington’s path from Grecian shores to British study halls, from California politics to East Coast board rooms, including the media mogul’s controversial buyout of her Huffington Post website to AOL for $315-million.
“Ms. Huffington’s life has taken so many twists and turns,” Pierro says, ”it would seem that once I had an idea of ‘who’ she was, suddenly I would find out something that changed my perception.”
Ultimately, as Pierro’s “labor-intensive” take on Huffington began to take shape, he viewed her as the mother of reinvention.
“ ‘Survivor’ — that is how I would describe Ms. Huffington,” says the 38-year-old Pierro, owner of the small-press Cosmic Times who has written comics since 2005.
“Is that a heroic trait? I will let others draw their own conclusions about that, but it was clear to me that Ms. Huffington will do what she feels is necessary to come out on top.”
To read more from Pierro — who created the comic with artist Nick Justus — click through below:
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MICHAEL CAVNA: For you, what made scripting Arianna's story especially intriguing...challenging...rewarding?
MARTIN T. PIERRO: When Bluewater offered me this assignment, I expected it to be an easy “throw-away” fluff script, but I was pleasantly surprised with how fascinating and interesting Arianna’s life was and is. The biggest challenge came in doing the research; I never expected to be sifting through so much material. I watched videos, listened to podcasts, and read countless pages of information. I still feel there was so much more I could have uncovered. Ms. Huffington’s life has taken so many twists and turns, it would seem that once I had an idea of “who” she was — suddenly I would find out something that changed my perception.
Surprisingly I found the process very rewarding, if not labor-intensive. I feel that at the end of the day I painted a clear picture of a woman who has taken an amazing journey to reach a high level of success. The most fulfilling part of the process was reading the final script. … I managed to take what was essentially a stack of facts and weave them together to create a cohesive narrative that has a clear beginning, middle and end.
MC: Arianna obviously is a polarizing figure who undeniably helped alter how online journalistic sites “gather” news. How do you address this in the comic? And how do you tackle the big AOL deal, from the business to the backlash?
MTP: I touched on some of the controversy that surrounded her, but never made that the focus of the story. I wanted to keep things focused on who this woman is and what drives her — not necessarily about the world surrounding her. The AOL deal serves as the climax of the story, and where I don’t intentionally try to hide any facts surrounding it, I did use it as a sign of accomplishment and success.
The assignment from Bluewater was to write a book highlighting the life of Arianna Huffington, and that is what I did. I tried to zero in on events — some lesser-known than others — that worked to help shape the successful woman we see today. I don’t hide anything … the bumps and warts are still there. I just didn’t make them the focal point of my story.
MC: If not "superheroic," then Female Force at least typically depicts its subjects with possessing a certain "heroic" quality. Do you see Arianna as having "heroic" qualities?
MTP: “Survivor” — that is how I would describe Ms. Huffington. Is that a heroic trait? I will let others draw their own conclusions about that, but it was clear to me that Ms. Huffington will do what she feels is necessary to come out on top. That’s not to say that she hasn’t had her share of setbacks. But she clearly has the drive and motivation to take advantage of any situation and turn it to her favor, sometimes even diametrically changing who she is to fit the moment at hand.
MC: Do you have any personal feelings about Arianna as a figure, icon, entrepreneur that you reflect in the book?
MTP: I would say that during the research process, my feelings about Arianna changed several times. In the beginning, I simply didn’t know much about her. However, as I studied her current political stance, I realized that she and I are pretty much polar opposites. Once I began to learn more about her personal life, though, I realized that for her, politics is more a means to an end. At various points in her life, both sides held her up and tore her down, and she kept moving forward.
One can debate the validity of the Huffington Post and what effects it has had on the way we interrupt news, but no one can argue that Ms. Huffington is not a force to be reckoned with. Opinions and political views aside, no one can deny that her entrepreneurial spirit is one that should be admired. I finished this project with a respect and an understanding of Arianna that I hope readers of the comic will find as well.
MC: So ultimately, what might readers of the comic find most compelling?
MTP: I think readers will be as surprised as I was to learn the depth of this woman. She seldom falls into the role of victim, and can serve as an inspiration to both men and woman alike — if you know what you want … nothing can stop you from attaining it. Though not American herself, Arianna’s story is clearly one that proves that in America, nothing is impossible.