Archive for July, 2009

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July 31, 2009 @ 6:18 pm | Filed under:

SDCC Panel: Graphic Novels for Kids

July 30, 2009 @ 7:34 pm | Filed under:

(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 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.

The panelists:

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!)

genejenniGene 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.”

panelsmilesJennifer 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.

panelmenJarrett 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!

panelGroup 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.

San Diego Comic-Con: Saturday & Sunday

July 30, 2009 @ 7:28 pm | Filed under: ,

The first kids’ graphic novel panel post is almost finished. First, though, a few more Comic-Con sights. On Saturday and Sunday, I took few pictures—too busy!

But I saw a lot of good stuff. A small sampling:


Where’s Waldo?


Hey, there’s Lt. Uhura!

I rounded a corner and there she was: the lovely and gracious Nichelle Nichols, who autographed a photo for my father (he was tickled when I presented it back at home).


Ordinary Joes.


Talented comic-book writer and all-around sweetheart Mike Costa (The Secret History of The Authority: Hawksmoor) with his youngest fan.


View from the DC Comics green room.

scottfionaScott and Huck with brilliant artist Fiona Staples (Hawksmoor, North 40). Aw, is the con over already?

OK, back to work on the graphic novel post.

Comments are off

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Breaking News for Dragon Con Attendees

July 30, 2009 @ 10:47 am | Filed under:

Check out the comment Scott just left on my last post:

Brian says that the first person to mention Here in the Bonny Glen [at Dragon Con] will get the Here in the Bonny Glen Special: a free Brian Stelfreeze sketch. Ask him for a sketch and prepare to be stunned by its gorgeousness. And challenge him: ask him to draw the undrawable and watch as the guy who calls 7-point-perspective “child’s play” somehow manages to draw it anyway.

I told you Brian Stelfreeze was a sweetheart! I gotta tell you, comics fans will be green with envy over this incredible coup for Bonny Glen readers. In fact, I know a lot of industry professionals who’ll be jealous. Brian, if you’re reading this, thanks a million. Wish I were going to be there myself!

Bonus peek at Brian Stelfreeze art: This is Brian’s cover for Detective Comics #726, the 700th time Batman appeared in Detective (where he made first-ever appearance in 1939). “Detective Comics” is the DC in DC Comics, of course. (A very young Jane was the model for the child depicted here—that’s your little piece of comics trivia for the day.)


Comic-Con Stuff to Blog About

July 27, 2009 @ 8:26 pm | Filed under:

(But not tonight. Still not caught up—on rest, on reading, on housework, on cuddles.)

Graphic Novels for Kids Panel #1, featuring a stellar array of authors including the delightful Jennifer Holm, author of the Babymouse books my Beanie so adores. The baby napped during that panel, so I got to hear the whole thing, took copious notes, have much good stuff to share and many new books to check out.

Graphic Novels for Kids Panel #2, another awesome author lineup, many more titles to investigate—but Huck grew suddenly chatty quite early on and I had to make a hurried exit. Fortunately, prolific children’s book author and blogger (and wonderfully warm person whom it was a delight to finally meet face to face) Anastasia Suen was there and I’m hoping to hear more from her about the rest of that discussion.

How fond I am of Mark Buckingham. We only see him once a year at this con, and it’s always one of my favorite parts.

Ditto Kelley Puckett, who really needs to come to San Diego more often.

How Kristen Rutherford is the most gorgeous pregnant woman ever, and I’m not just saying that because she got invited to Skywalker Ranch and I’m hoping she’ll bring me along.

How charming was the karaoke duet of “If I Had a Million Dollars” sung by my hubby and Mike Costa at the WildStorm party. Scott really would buy me a green dress, you know. (But not a real green dress; that’s cruel.)

How the primary flaw of the San Diego Comic-Con is its absence of vast displays of candy like those at the Barcelona con. Props to Mike Costa, though, for hooking me up with a fistful of Red Vines from the DC booth stash.

How I may finally have found a sport at which I excel. It even involves an actual ball and hoops.

How much I love hanging out with my husband. The best, the very best, the best-by-far thing about any con is spending all that extra time with him.

San Diego Comic-Con: Friday

July 25, 2009 @ 7:43 am | Filed under: ,

Well, day two turned into a lot of waiting in line for events I wound up missing. The baby and I dropped Scott off at the WildStorm booth for his morning shift and headed up to Ballroom 20, where the Caprica/BSG line was already hundreds deep. We joined the throng, but before long, word came that too few people were leaving the previous panel, and the Caprica panel was already at maximum capacity.


Ah, well. The baby was hungry anyway, so we found a nice bench and people-watched for a while—which really is one of the best parts of a con.


Think that backpack is full of Wonka bars?

Then we spent some time wandering the main exhibit hall. The display of Mouse Guard books at the Archaia booth reminded me I wanted to hit the Archaia panel—


—so we headed back upstairs and joined that line, which was nice and short because we were early. Alas, we had to slip out of the panel after only fifteen minutes because the baby was feeling chatty. Actually I had kind of a mortifying moment. I was standing in the back of the room with the baby in the sling, bouncing him a bit to keep him happy while simultaneously typing one-handed notes on the presentation into my Blackberry. And now and then the baby would make a little happy noise, but it really wasn’t loud enough to disturb anyone (yet). But suddenly I realized Mouse Guard author David Petersen was looking at me and what he saw would have been a woman with a wiggly baby, a woman staring intently at her cell phone, appearing not to be paying attention. Horrible. Probably looked like I was texting someone. How could he know that I was faithfully chronicling his own words? It was right about then that Sean’s soft-happy became edging-toward-loud happy, so I slipped out the side door.

But we were there long enough to hear from David Petersen about the publication, at last, of the second volume of his beautifully illustrated graphic novel series. My kids (especially Beanie) are big fans of the first Mouse Guard book, Fall 1152, and I’m looking forward to reading Winter 1152. Also full of promise: the Mouse Guard roleplaying game, the discovery of which inspired a couple of excited tweets yesterday. The rules are published in a gorgeous hardcover book. It’s thick. Possibly complicated? Might be fun to find out.

petersenMouse Guard author David Petersen (left) and Archaia Studios Press editorial director Stephen Christy

We had to leave before I got to hear about Archaia’s recently announced partnership with the Jim Henson Company, but I gather there are plans to publish comics based on such Henson classics as (oh boy oh boy!!) Fraggle Rock and The Dark Crystal. (Unabashed Fraggle Rock fan here.)

Loads more to tell, of course (for starters, there’s the smashing karaoke performance of “If I Had a Million Dollars” by writer Mike Costa and my very own husband), but the kids are waking up and it’s about to be busy-Saturday-morning around here. Friday summary is:

Having a ball—


Wish you were here.


San Diego Comic-Con: Thursday

July 23, 2009 @ 10:11 pm | Filed under: ,

Convention center.




Panel: Wonder Women—Female Power Icons in Pop Culture.

“They say there aren’t enough good roles for women. That’s because Eliza Dushku is playing them all.” (On Dollhouse.)

Sigourney Weaver: “Ripley could take Clint Eastwood in a fight.”


Will Juliet return to LOST this season? Says Elizabeth Mitchell: “That depends on whether or not Jack’s plan worked.”


Zoë Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek) on women in action roles: “We fight against a room full of men over why we can’t wear pants for all the running, the fighting…They think I can do it in a skirt and Gucci boots.”

Missed the end of the panel because the baby, who’d been an angel up to that point, had had enough. Had strategically placed myself on an aisle seat next to an exit just in case I needed to slip out. Slipped out. Headed down to the mad crush of the main hall and found—our favorite superhero of all.


“A Little Egg Lay on a Leaf”

July 23, 2009 @ 6:18 am | Filed under: , , ,

How many times have you read The Very Hungry Caterpillar aloud?

It’s got to be in the hundreds for me. Seems like every single one of my kids has had a time when that book was the favorite above all others.

But in all these years, I’ve never actually seen a real caterpillar egg—until now.


Can you see it? The little white dot on the underside of the leaf, quite near the stem. I watched the butterfly lay this egg and immediately afterward I ran inside for the camera, so this photo was taken no more than two minutes into the egg’s existence.

I hope the other caterpillars don’t eat that leaf. They are munching away and growing quite fat. We’ve counted up to eleven at one time but it’s likely we’re missing a good many. Counting callerpidders has become Rilla’s favorite thing to do. Mine too!


Butterfly watch: two monarchs, a tiger swallowtail, several painted ladies, and assorted sulphurs and cabbage whites. Also a possible viceroy sighting but Jane, my resident expert, wasn’t there to confirm.

As for our blue flower…Jenn, I was sure it was a cornflower too, but the rest of them are coming up—



(The color’s a bit washed out in this photo. The flower is really a soft shade of pale pink. Hmm….)