Oh wow, oh wow, oh W-O-W! The moment the Rookie Yearbook came through the door of It’s Nice That it created an absolute squeal-fest. For any of you out there who haven’t heard of Rookie, please read the interview with some of its creators, then go to the website and gorge (gorge!) on some of the most interesting, intelligent, hilarious articles and features written by girls about being a girl.
Edited by Tavi Gevinson, the mastermind creator of Rookie and heroine to girls all over the world, the Yearbook is a compendium of the best bits of the website and an absolute treasure trove of honest, information that will either make you feel proud to be a girl, or make you understand female vibes way better than you do at the moment.
We spoke to Anaheed Alani and Sonja Ahlers who worked on the content and the design about the making of Rookie Yearbook 1…
For those who haven’t yet heard of Rookie, what is it?
AA: It’s a website for teenage girls that takes girls seriously. It’s also funnier and smarter than most media made for teenagers, probably because our editor-in-chief and about half our staff are teenage girls themselves.
The book is a collection of content from the website from the last year, why did you feel it was important to publish the online content in book form?
AA: Tavi has always been very enamoured with print (as have Sonja and I, as we’re old and grew up with it), but we knew that Rookie would have to be on the internet, to make it accessible to a lot more people and to allow for a back-and-forth with readers through the comments. This way, we get the best of both worlds — a web magazine with a yearly print edition. It’s very gratifying to see our photographers’ and illustrators’ gorgeous work on paper, and to hold a heavy object in my hands that we MADE.
SA: The book and the site are almost like two different animals. Tavi and Anaheed had their work cut out for them when it came down to editing content. First and foremost, it was a space issue. There would have to be an encyclopedia set to accommodate all the amazing Rookie web content from the last year.
So the book literally took on a life of its own. I was not a part of the editing process but on our end (I worked directly with Tracy Hurren the designer/project manager at Drawn And Quarterly), I saw the book become its own entity. Each page informed the other and so forth as it unfolded. I find this happens with the making of books. It’s magic.
Rookie absolutely has to be in print. It’s so much nicer to read an object you can hold in your hands. A lot of the content needs that personal kind of exchange especially due to its nature.
There are an amazing amount of collaborators and contributors in this book! What do you think having so many different voices brings to it?
AA: And those are just a fraction of the collaborators and contributors on our website! We like having a wide range of voices and styles because we want to represent as many takes on teenage-girlhood as we possibly can, though of course no one can ever come close to representing 100 percent of the female population. We’re always adding more voices to the mix, and listening to what our readers want to see from us.
The content, obviously aimed at girls, covers a whole load of topics – what kind of girl and age-group is this book aimed at?
AA: Every kind of girl from 13 to 19.
What does the Rookie Yearbook hope to do, or what word does it seek to spread?
AA: It seeks to make girls happy, by letting them know that they’re great the way they are. They don’t have to change anything to be “cool” or attractive or acceptable. They can just do what makes them happy. That’s the coolest thing you can do, anyway.
SA: I see Rookie as a guide to showing young women how to find and be who they truly are – finding the self. It was something I didnt have growing up and I see that in the reader comments over and over. Everyone is wishing they had a Rookie while they were growing up and figuring it out. I had Sassy, mind you. Rookie has taken things to a whole other level thanks, in part, to the internet and the generosity of the contributors.
Can you tell us a little about the process of designing the yearbook?
SA: The book happened very quickly. We made it happen in about six weeks. I flew to Montreal to work directly with Drawn And Quarterly. Having spent the last year illustrating with Rookie, I occupy an interesting netherworld between the publisher and the site – both of whom I have the utmost respect for so in many ways, this was just a straight up dream job for me.
The publisher had put out my previous book which is actually how I came to find Rookie. We had good solid ground to pull off the book project, two very great teams who all came together. I dont think any other group could have done this work in that time-frame. When the content was solid, it was just Tavi, Tracy and me putting it down on paper. Tavi was on the Rookie Roadtrip and was art directing via email. We managed to do this part without a single phone call (I’d say there was alot of psychic communication going on). We are all fairly like-minded so we kind of worked together as one brain, especially in the final stages.
So there’s been a website, a book and a road trip – what’s next on the Rookie agenda?
AA: We’re talking about making a calendar. We want to make a sex-ed booklet at some point. And we have some other exciting stuff in the works for next summer, but I can’t talk about it yet.
What was your favourite part of making Rookie Yearbook?
AA: Working with Tavi and Sonja and the Drawn & Quarterly staff. Those are my GIRLS.