August 2, 2009 @ 8:36 pm | Filed under: Comics
This was the panel I had to leave only a few minutes after it began—chatty baby—so I didn’t take notes. But I wanted to share the list of authors and titles with those of you who are looking for recommendations:
Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules!).
Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet). Kazu’s art is crazy beautiful. Couldn’t take my eyes off it. Amulet has a pretty intense opening (car accident, death of a parent) but it gripped me for sure and I am eager to read the rest.
David Petersen (Mouse Guard). Mentioned in this post and others; gets enthusiastic thumbs-up from my gang.
Eric Jones and Landry Walker (Supergirl, Little Gloomy).
Jeff Smith (Bone). Scott and my three oldest have read and greatly enjoyed many of the Bone books. They passed Scott’s OK for 8-Year-Olds test. I’ve not read any of them yet. I know! I’m a slacker!
Alexis Fajardo (Kid Beowulf). Sounds very intriguing, does it not?
My post on the first “comics and graphic novels for kids” panel is here. Lots of notes on that one. For the sake of convenience, here’s a quick list of the authors and some of their books:
Lewis Trondheim (Tiny Tyrant).
Gene Yang (American Born Chinese).
Derek Kirk Kim (The Eternal Smile).
Eric Wight (Frankie Pickle and The Closet of Doom).
Chris Schweizer (Crogan’s Vengeance).
Jennifer Holm (Babymouse).
Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Lunch Lady).
July 30, 2009 @ 7:34 pm | Filed under: Comics
(Note: this is one of those uberlinky posts that takes forever to write. I’m going to eschew linking for now, for the most part, and add them later when I have time.)
There were two Graphic Novels for Kids panels on Sunday at San Diego Comic-Con 2009. I attended the first panel in its entirety, but I had to leave about 15 minutes into the afternoon session. The baby was feeling chatty again.
Both panels—the parts I attended—were excellent. Terrific lineups of writers and artists. I must have added a dozen new titles to my TBR pile, at least. I took scribbly notes while attempting to keep the pen out of the baby’s grasp—note-taking is tricky when you’re standing in the back of the room, bouncing an infant in a sling to keep him happy, trying not to poke the tip of your pen through the folded paper you’re balancing on your hand because you decided at the last minute that your beloved notebook was one object too many for a shoulder already overtaxed with convention survival supplies and a 21-pound six-month-old.
You’ll have to forgive, then, the sketchiness of my notes in some instances. I think my best bet here is to list the panelists and their books along with any remarks I happened to jot down, rather than making any attempt to chronicle the Q and A in order. Fair enough? Of the books I’m about to list, I have only read Jennifer Holm’s Babymouse series and David Petersen’s Mouse Guard: Fall 1152. I wholeheartedly recommend the former for young readers and the latter for all ages. And I’d venture to say that even non-fantasy-fans and non-comics-fans will be blown away by Petersen’s gorgeous full-color artwork. (Edited to add: David Petersen was on the second panel, which I’ll talk about in a subsequent post.)
All righty, then. My notes:
Comics and Graphic Novels for Kids Panel #1, SDCC 2009
First: a hearty note of appreciation for the work of the moderator, Robin Brenner of NoFlyingNoTights.com and author of Understanding Manga and Anime. Her questions were insightful and her handout was packed with information. (I’d love to see it online!) Fabulous resource and it’s clear Brenner knows the topic well.
Gene Yang, author and illustrator of American Born Chinese (winner of Eisner and Printz Awards—the Eisner is the most prestigious award in comics, says the proud wife of an Eisner nominee) and writer of The Eternal Smile, illustrated by Derek Kirk Kim, who was also on the panel. (Many of my readers may also recognize Gene as the creator of The Rosary Comic Book, published by Pauline Books and Media, about which Gene wrote: “I’ve always struggled with how to incorporate my faith into my comics in an authentic way. One Lent, I decided to do a comic adaptation of the Rosary Prayer, rather than giving up chocolate or soda. The Rosary Comic Book is the result.)
—Is a teacher, has young children, started writing comics because of dearth of kid-appropriate comic books in stores. Mentioned reading a Batman comic (years ago) in which the villain disguised himself with the skin of a victim’s face, found that image terribly disturbing, it lingered, was not at all appropriate for children.
—During discussion of the responsibility of writing for kids, told funny story (at Derek Kirk Kim’s urging) about a reader who tracked him down by calling the school where he works & left scolding message about a grammatical error in one of his books, and actually asked him to call back to discuss the matter. He didn’t return the call, of course.
Derek Kirk Kim, author and illustrator of Same Difference and Other Stories (won Eisner and Harvey), a graphic novel (not for kids). As mentioned above, he illustrated The Eternal Smile, a collection of fantastical stories (fantastical, not necessarily fantasy).
Jennifer Holm, author of the Babymouse books (illustrated by her brother, Matthew Holm), and Newbery Honor-winning author of Our Only May Amelia.
—Grew up the only girl with four brothers, comics were everywhere, but she didn’t connect with Wonder Woman and other female superheroes who seemed nothing like her. Babymouse springs from her desire to create a comic book character other young girls can relate to. (It tickled me to see Jenni up there on the panel, the only female surrounded by half a dozen men, talking about growing up with a pack of brothers.)
—Went with traditional children’s book publisher rather than comics publisher for Babymouse because the book publishers know how to get books into schools and libraries. Comic book shops are not places frequented by mothers of small children (as she knows from experience, as the mother of small children).
—Fun connection: during conversation before the panel began, we discovered a mutual affection for Ginee Seo, who was Jenni’s editor at one point, and my boss for a short while years earlier. (“For a short while” because then Jane was born!)
Gene Yang and Jennifer Holm.
Eric Wright, author and illustrator of Frankie Pickle (illustrated chapter book series for young kids), My Dead Girlfriend (teen graphic novel), and Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (comic book adaptation). Former animator at Disney, Warner Bros., Cartoon Network.
—Eric spoke earnestly about the need for kid-appropriate comics and graphic novels. (A drum I’ve been pounding for years.) Described becoming a father, having to shield his child’s eyes in the comic shops.
—Told a great story about a library(?) signing for very young children. One child in the autograph line seemed a good bit older than the rest, turned out to be a first-grader who’d skipped school for the event. The boy’s mother told Eric, “Meeting you was more important to him than going to school.”
Jennifer Holm, Jarrett K. Krosoczka, Eric Wright, and Chris Schweitzer.
Lewis Trondheim, French comics superstar. Spoke about differences in France, where all ages read comics and prose with equal enthusiasm. Funny, wry; I wish I’d taken better notes about his contributions to the discussion. Blame my infant son.
Jarrett K. Krosoczka, prolific children’s book writer and illustrator (Punk Farm, Bubble Bath Pirates, Annie Was Warned, and many others) and writer/illustrator of a graphic novel series called Lunch Lady, which I am eager to check out.
Chris Schweizer, author and illustrator of The Crogan Adventures, teen graphic novels about “an honest sailor who, through unfortunate circumstance, finds himself thrust into a life of piracy” (description taken from the author’s website). You pretty much always have me at “finds himself thrust into a life of piracy,” so I can’t wait to take a look at Crogan.
Jarrett K. Krosoczka, Eric Wright, Chris Schweitzer, and Derek Kirk Kim.
I’ll have to write about the second panel in another post—this one is bursting at the seams as it is. But there are a lot of promising prospects for the TBR pile here. If you check any of them out, or your kids do, I would love to hear what you and they think!
Group photo with moderator Robin Brenner. That’s Lewis Trondheim on the left. I loved that Gene and Jennifer had their families with them, and I absolutely adore this photo of Jennifer with her two beautiful children making a rush for mommy during the photo shoot. I can’t begin to count the number of times I have found myself in exactly the same position, with one child clinging to my neck and the another on my back threatening to topple all three of us over. Just fills your heart with warmth, doesn’t it?
Post #2 on this subject is here—more graphic novel authors and titles.
April 3, 2009 @ 1:01 pm | Filed under: Comics
People often ask me for comic book recommendations for young kids. Most comics today are written for adults, and they are emphatically NOT for children. Back in the days when Scott was writing Gotham Adventures (a Batman monthly aimed at children), I could point inquirers in that direction with a clear conscience. His comics were age-appropriate and fun, and darn well written, I might add, and I’m not just saying that because I adore the guy. But he stopped writing that title long ago and has returned to the editor’s side of the desk.
The day before the movers pulled the truck into our Virginia driveway to load my hundreds of boxes for the move to California, another box arrived in the mail. From Scott, who was already out here. A little one, but still: I admit I sputtered a bit at the thought of having ONE MORE BOX to deal with. I should have known better. Shame on me. The box contained: chocolate (bless that man!) and a fat trade paperback which, upon inspection, turned out to be a reprinted collection of Batman material originally published in the 60s and 70s.
60s and 70s, see, which is to say: back when comic books were still being written for kids. The Batman book is part of a series called Showcase Presents, and there are around a dozen more titles now, I believe. They’re black-and-white reproductions, not full color, but that hasn’t seemed to matter to my gang. They were so crazy about the Batman one (it was passed from child to child in the car and was the most popular reading material on our long, long drive) that he brought home a few more, and OH MY GOODNESS. These book are never NOT being read by someone in the house. (No kidding, right in the middle of THIS VERY PARAGRAPH Rose came to me in tears because Jane had just finished the pick-o’-the-bunch, Teen Titans, and had the nerve to give it to Beanie instead of Rose who was waiting impatiently for her turn.)
I consider these books perfect reading material for the topsy-turvy days we’ve had this past month: light, fun, absorbing, did I mention fun? When they aren’t reading, Rose and Beanie are LIVING the books; they are superheroines named Aquagirl and Flash Girl, and they have informed me that I’m Wonder Woman, which: bwah ha ha, but thanks!
I haven’t vetted all the titles in the series yet, but some others that Scott gave the gang are The Elongated Man, Superman, and Justice League of America.
By the way, Rose and Beanie seem to have solved their problem by reading side by side.
And I was only there for half of it.
Whew. As has always been my comic book convention experience, the weekend was exhausting but sooo much fun. That it fell on this particular weekend was a bummer, though, because a bunch of my girlfriends were at an entirely different conference on the other side of the country, and I (sob) could not be in two places at once.
Looking at all the beautiful pictures from the FCL Conference gave me such a smile, because talk about a study in contrasts! Here’s what their weekend looked like.
Here’s what mine looked like.
Scott had to work at the con Wednesday night, Thursday, Friday, and through the weekend. My mother arrived bright and early Saturday morning, and I brought her home from the airport, gave her a hug, and abandoned her with the children for the next two days. More or less.
On Saturday, while Scott worked at the WildStorm booth and did portfolio review and all that editor stuff they pay him for, I strolled up and down the convention center taking in the sights. There is always a lot to take in.
View from the DC Comics green room.
Saw eye to eye, Yoda and I did.
After a while, you’ve seen so much it all becomes a blur.
Sometimes you just need to sit down and take a little breather.
Fortunately, Scott got a late lunch break just in time for us to hook up with our beloved (and gorgeous) college friend Kristen, her husband Vinny, and Vinny’s Attack of the Show co-producer, Joshua. We survived the cattle crossing that is the big intersection right outside the convention center
and wandered into the Gaslamp District in search of a good place to eat.
Speaking of cattle crossings, we passed these characters just hanging out on a streetcorner.
Rumor has it they were a promo for the TV show Fringe.
The restaurant that boasted of having award-winning meatloaf had a 45-minute wait, so hmph to them. We found ourselves at Fred’s Mexican Cafe, and oh my goodness. The complimentary chips and salsa were so good they nearly made us weep.
Kristen took this picture of me basking in post-salsa contentment.
She also got much better Comic-Con pix than I did.
After stuffing ourselves with cajun shrimp tacos (oh. my. goodness.) and carnitas burritos, we waddled back down the street toward the Con. OK, I waddled. Scott had to dash ahead to get back for booth duty. Kristen and I took our time. We passed Joss Whedon on the street. Kristen greeted him with what is now my favorite greeting ever. (“Hey, Joss Whedon! Yay!”) He grinned. Then we reached Kristen’s hotel and said a weepy goodbye. L.A. is just too dang far away. At least, as the car drives.
Back to the Con for me, where I visited artist friends until Scott was finished at the booth. Tim Sale shook his head in amazement at the news that we are expecting again. I told him we figure there won’t be any Social Security by the time we’re old enough to draw it, so we’re making sure we have plenty of children around to take care of us. He said, “Good point. It’ll be an agrarian society by then anyway, so you’ll need all those kids to work the farm.” Ha.
It was around that time that I had a little bag crisis. The bag I’d brought with me (this delicious creation by Beauty That Moves) turned out to be just a leetle too small for the event. My camera was perched too near the top, just begging to be snatched. What choice did I have? There was this booth full of big ole bags with zippers, and one of them was lime green. Seriously, what choice did I have. OK. I admit it. I have a little problem when it comes to bags. In fact, just minutes later when my husband was introducing me to one of his favorite writers in the comics industry (Kelley Puckett, whom I’ve been hearing about—and reading—for fifteen years, but somehow had never met until this weekend!), he broke off in mid-sentence and said, “Hey, is that a new bag?” I said, “Hmm? What?” And he turned to Kelley and said, “My wife has only two flaws.” (He’s wrong about that, but it was sweet.) “Number one: her ridiculous affection for me. Number two: her compulsion for bags.” I can’t deny it. I am so thrifty and purchase-cautious when it comes to clothes and furniture and household items and pretty much everything except books and handbags. I mean, it’s not like I buy a bag a month or anything like that. But three or four a year, yeah, maybe. It’s a quest, see, for the perfect bag. As pretty as this one but with lots of pockets and a sturdy bottom and some kind of inherent magic that will make me always be able to locate my keys when I need to. That kind of bag.
But I digress.
Our Saturday evening wrapped up with what is for me the best part of a comic book convention. We wound up in the Hyatt bar eating appetizers and drinking beer (ginger ale for me) with a group of writers and artists. I love this, the jovial camaraderie and stimulating discussion of a community of creative colleagues. Our Barcelona pal Andy Diggle was there (but no Jock, alas), and Kelley Puckett joined us, and Fiona Staples (Scott’s artist on Jack Hawksmoor), and a bunch of WildStorm people, and assorted other folks wandering in and out. We stayed up talking too late and dragged ourselves home well past midnight.
And then poor Scott had to start all over at 9 a.m. on Sunday. I lingered at home, took the girls to Mass, played with my little ones. I didn’t want to take a second car into the convention-center madness, so I parked at the trolley station near our house and took the orange line downtown. And what an interesting trolley ride that was. I Twittered the experience (scroll down to “waiting for the trolley” and read upwards) and was probably lucky the Loud Girl didn’t know I was recording her rantings for all the internet to see. I told Scott you know it’s been a freaky train ride when it’s a relief to get back to all the nice, sane people at Comic-Con.
Like these guys.
I am proud to say I bought no bags on Sunday (although the blue soldier guy’s messenger bag up there is kind of cute, isn’t it). I took in the sights and drank free DC Comics cranberry juice and met more nice artists and attended the WildStorm panel. And then it was back to the Hyatt for more food & fun with Fiona and Andy (but no Kelley this time) and Mike Costa and Neil Googe and other engaging, talented folks. Scott, Mike, Andy, and I spent a good three hours talking about the nature of story. That, my friends, is why I go to comic conventions.
Later we stopped by a party hosted by Mark Buckingham, Bill Willingham, and Matt Sturges, but I was too tired to stay long. My obliging hubby took me home where I snuggled up next to my baby who is no longer a baby and dreamed about absolutely nothing, because I was that wiped out.