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1. UK publisher Great Beast shuts down—but it’s for good reasons

BB1 cover GB 600pxw UK publisher Great Beast shuts down—but its for good reasons

While comics seem to be holding their own as an industry, with revenue generally up, there are a few folks on shaky ground, and 2014 saw a few casualties. One of them is Great Beast, the indie uUK graphic novel publisher run by cartoonists Adam Cadwell and Mark Ellerby. The imprint was sort of run as an “Image” like model, with Great Beast generally handling distribution for an emerging generation of UK cartoonists including , Robert M Ball, Dan Berry, Adam Cadwell, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Dan Cox, John Cei Douglas, Marc Ellerby, Isabel Greenberg, John Riordan and Rachael Smith.

The reason for the shut down? Too much success basically. Ellerby had left running the publisher earlier in the year and Cadwell did not have the time to keep things going:

The reason behind this decision is that the Beast has grown too big for us to handle. As the group got bigger, as the books became more successful and as we widened the range of shops we sold to there became more of a need for the management and promotion to come from one or two people and Marc Ellerby and I (Adam Cadwell) happily took up that role. However, as time went on we found that the time spent working for the benefit of the group was getting in the way of us actually making our own comics, which is why we started the group in the first place. In Summer, Marc stepped back from the ‘publishing’ side of things to focus on his freelance work and his comics and now as 2014 draws to a close I feel like it’s time for me to do the same.

We looked at many ways of monetising the group so we could pay someone to run things whilst still giving the creators the bulk of the profits but we just couldn’t find a fair way to make it work. I wish we could find a business minded person who loved our comics (but didn’t make comics themselves) who could find a way to make the model financially viable and take over but I can’t imagine who that would be or how it would work.
Marc and I started Great Beast in April 2012 as a place to self publish comics to a professional standard and create a home for fun, accessible comics for a wide age range. Over the last few years, Great Beast has gained a reputation as an exciting and innovative publisher of quality comics and I’m enormously proud of that and of all the books we’ve helped produce. I hope we’ve improved the perception of what self publishing can be and shown the appeal of fun, bold, original comics. Please continue to follow the work of all our fantastic creators, I’m sure there’s a lot of incredible work yet to come.


While the door officially close on January 7th, Great Beast is having a 25% off sale, and there are some excellent books to be had there.

While Great Beast has joined the Great Hall of Shuttered Publishers, it definitely left its mark on a British scene that is growing and developing by leaps and bounds. Check out commentary by Zainab Akhtar and Steve Morris for more. Morris writes:

Great Beast was hugely helpful for the UK comics scene in general – the influence it wields will likely live on in a number of small-press publishers who’ve been set up in their wake. Having a publisher makes it easier for comic-makers to get press out to retailers and fans, and Great Beast were rather pioneering in the way they marketed themselves and got their books onto shelves across the company.

1 Comments on UK publisher Great Beast shuts down—but it’s for good reasons, last added: 12/22/2014
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2. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #411: Featuring Christine Brailler


“The children were nestled all snug in their beds …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

I’m handing the site over this morning to artist Christine Brailler, pictured right, for something totally different — stained glass mosaics. (Have I ever posted about stained glass mosaics? I actually don’t think I have.) Last year, Christine released her first picture book (Brownian Bee Press), The Night Before Christmas. I read it last year, but did I post about it? Nope. I had intended to, but I got busy. When I contacted her about it this year, we decided better late than never. So, she visits today to talk about how she makes her mosaics and to share process images, as well as some photos of the stained glass pieces from the book.

Let’s get right to it. For those who are interested in even more information, Christine blogged here about her process from start to finish.

Christine: Before I discovered mosaics, I had always wanted to illustrate a children’s book but never felt very confident about my painting abilities. Once I found mosaics in 2005, I thought, what a unique idea it would be to illustrate a book with my mosaics. About six years ago on Christmas Eve, my family and I were reading “The Night Before Christmas,” as we always do, when suddenly I thought, “I would love to illustrate this book, personalize it with my family in it, and read it every year!” So, I began the process of designing and creating fifteen stained glass mosaics over the next four years.

The first thing I did was draw quick 2×3” thumbnail sketches, not thinking too much about it — really just getting the idea of it down, the side story of the cat, etc. Here’s one I did of the reindeer, which—don’t laugh—look much more like donkeys!



Some of my ideas changed dramatically, once I started the mosaic process, like eliminating the reindeer altogether when Santa is flying over the house. I simply couldn’t fit eight reindeer in the design, let alone one, since I wouldn’t be able to cut the glass tiny enough for all the detail that would require. I found such limitations to be a fun challenge — that is, for me to come up with something different, which often led to more creative choices and end results.

From there, I did hours and hours of research on pretty much every element in the book. For example, I didn’t know how to draw reindeer (as you can see), so I spent a lot of time looking at photos to find the qualities I wanted to express. In my notes, I wrote “joyful, playful, not dainty, sturdy and strong.” I found what I was looking for in images of reindeer races. What got me was that they run with their tongues hanging out, like dogs riding in a car with the top down – they look so happy! I knew I had to include that detail in my design.

I planned for an 8×10” book in the end, so I drew my final designs at 5×8”. (I draw more accurately when I draw small; don’t ask me why!) I do only a line drawing for the design and then work out all of the details, once I get to the glass cutting stage.

The preparation for the mosaic work goes like this: enlarge the design to the final mosaic size of 15×24”, tape down on cardboard (so I can move it if necessary), tape plastic wrap down over the design, and then tape fiberglass mesh down over the plastic wrap. I can see the design through the plastic wrap and will then glue the glass onto the mesh. The plastic wrap keeps the glass from being glued to the design underneath. This process allows me to make changes to the mosaic with ease, as opposed to trying to remove glass that has been glued to a board. And I made some major changes throughout, as you will see. In this image, you can see how it all works:


(Click to enlarge)

I don’t generally color my designs in advance, as I like to work with the glass to see what looks best together. Once I have the design taped down, I play with glass colors like this. The colors on the top are too harsh. The ones on the bottom are softer and much more appealing to me, so I went with those.



(Click each to enlarge)


 

Deciding on colors for the quilt:


(Click to enlarge)

A big part of my process is printing out the design small and using it to play with a few different things: color, value, and andamento (the visual flow of the mosaic that is produced by how the glass is cut and how it is placed in the design). In this one, I worked on color and value:

On this one, I worked out how I wanted the reindeers’ blankets to be designed. I sometimes tweak a design at this stage, too; for instance, here I decided the tongue needed to be shorter.

In this example, I’m working out the andamento in the cat, the guitar, their clothing, and their faces. You can see the direction lines of how the glass will be laid, as well as shapes of the cuts.



 

In progress, working with my guides:



(Click each to enlarge)

The biggest part of making this book was to be able to include my family in it. I worked from photos of my husband, myself, our son, and our cat. My husband posed for all of the pages he was featured in and even posed for some of Santa’s body positions, so I could get them just right.








 

The process of creating our cat, Raymi:



Sometimes I wouldn’t have a photo of Raymi that matched what I wanted her to be doing, so I’d do a very extensive search online for a cat in the pose I wanted. Then I’d adapt it to her colors and markings.




When I finished all 15 of the mosaics, there were changes to be made. Some were minor, but others were huge. The interesting thing is that by the time I got to the final mosaic, it had been four years since I started and my technique had changed and improved. I needed the earlier mosaics to match the quality and style of the later ones. In this mosaic, I changed the wall from dark random pieces of glass to lighter, straight cut pieces and added a darker frame around the mosaic on the wall. Much better!



 

This one went through a lot of revisions:



(Click each to enlarge)

Other changes were a matter of aesthetics. I originally did the house grey, because I wanted it to be personal to us and our house is grey. It just looked so dull against the snow, so I changed it to brick. It was an additional 17 hours to change — but worth it.



(Click each to enlarge)

This change was a necessity – I had made Santa’s bag green in the fifth mosaic, but when I got to the ninth mosaic, I realized it wasn’t going to work, because the green bag was sitting right in front of the Christmas tree and was disappearing. This is downside to not planning out all of the designs in advance. So, I had to re-do the bag in both mosaics.



(Click each to enlarge)

Sometimes I’d get partway through an area, only to realize the colors weren’t working. Fortunately, I didn’t get too far before I decided this one didn’t work for me.



(Click each to enlarge)

Finally, I’m satisfied with the mosaics but there is still a lot to do. I have to cut the boards, attach hanging hardware, transfer the mosaics to the boards, grout them, finish the edges, and paint the backs. When I went to attach the mosaics to the boards, I found that they were too floppy and unmanageable, so I had to first apply glue to the backs of the mosaics and let them dry so that hey’d be rigid enough for me to hold onto without all the pieces of glass falling off.


(Click to enlarge)

Once they were glued to the boards, my favorite part was next, filling in all those gaps with grout. I spread the grout all over the mosaic and then wipe off the surface so that only the grout in between the glass remains.


(Click to enlarge)

I love grouting and seeing how the mosaic changes, how it becomes cohesive and complete — and even softens the mosaic. Here is a detail from one of the mosaics, before and after grouting.



(Click each to enlarge)

One of the last steps is finishing the edges of the mosaics with thinset to match the grout. [Ed. Note: This is pictured above in the photo of Christine that opens this post.]

I did it! Thanks so much for reading about my process.




Finished mosaics
(Click each to enlarge)


 

All images are copyright © 2013 by Christine Brailler and used by her permission.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) The girls are off from school for the holidays, and this always means more time to read together. We’re reading a handful of good novels right now.

2) I’ve graduated to Level Two in my piano lessons, meaning book two in the course I’m using. My teacher would veer from book one an awful lot in order to let me do what I wanted, so it’s been a while with book one, but now I’m moving on. It feels good to “graduate.”

3) I so super bad wish I could see this show.

4) Last Tango in Halifax.

5) A kicker shared his writing with me, and it was a pleasure to read it.

6) Last weekend we saw a stage production of A Christmas Carol, and it fake-snowed on us inside the theater at the end. (Well, it only snowed on some rows, so we had extra-great seats.)

7) My husband was in Portland this past week and snapped this picture of our book in Powell’s. That was fun to see.



 

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 Comments on 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #411: Featuring Christine Brailler, last added: 12/21/2014
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3. Illustrator Saturday – Santa Favorites

I thought this Saturday I’d bring you some of the Santa’s from past Illustrator Saturdays. Remember that not every illustrator has done an illustration of Santa. I am sure I missed some Santa’s, so if you were featured on Illustrator Saturday and have a Santa that you would like me to add, please email me with the illustration and I will add it to the celebration of Santa.

Yvonnesantauntitled

Yvonne Gilbert http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/

wenzelsantaraindeers

David Thorn Wenzel – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/illustrator-saturday-david-thorn-wenzel/

ZimmerSanta_4

Glenn Zimmer – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/illustrator-saturday-glenn-zimmer/

ruthsantacircling house

Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

ruthsantaopeningbag

Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

santa

Michele Noiset – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/illustrator-saturday-michele-noiset/

santa

David Harrington – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/illustrator-saturday-david-harrington/

cressySantasNewYearsEveSML

Micheal Garland – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/

yvonne51_Father_Christmas_Greeting-Card-1400

Yvonne Gilbert http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/illustrator-saturday-yvonne-gilbert/

becciachristmas2

Carlyn Beccia – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/illustrator-saturday-carlyn-beccia/

santa running

Michele Noiset – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/illustrator-saturday-michele-noiset/

dillardsanta bear tree

Sarah Dillard – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/illustrator-saturday-sarah-dillard/

garland10087_465065250196522_1314917625_n

Michael Garland – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/illustrator-saturday-michael-garland/

ruthsantaworkshop

Ruth Sanderson – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/illustrator-saturday-ruth-sanderson/

Karen Romagna Santa_&_Lamb_For_Prints

Karen Romagna – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/illustrator-saturday-karen-romanga/

shawnaa2f6f359b451371b24ff958ad09b7d24

Shawna JC Tenney – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/illustrator-saturday-shawna-jc-tenney/

detwilerRedCanoe1-788x1024

Susan Detwiler – http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/03/09/illustrator-saturday-susan-detwiler/

eberzSanta small

This Santa was done by Robert Eberz. Robert will be featured on Illustrator Saturday in January, so check back for more. www.roberteberz.com

Merry Christmas! Remember that I will be posting Christmas poems on Christmas Day, so if you have a Christmas poem, please email it to me.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Holiday, Illustrator's Saturday, inspiration, Poems Tagged: Christmas, Santa Claus, Santa illustrations from Illustrator Saturday

4 Comments on Illustrator Saturday – Santa Favorites, last added: 12/20/2014
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4. Humble Bundle sold $3 million worth of comics in 2014

HumbleInteriorPages Humble Bundle sold $3 million worth of comics in 2014
The whole Humble Bundle move to selling comics and e-books worked very well, Calvin Reid reports:

In its first year offering e-books and digital comics, Humble Bundle, the promotional site that lets readers pay what they wish for bundles of DRM-free content, released 18 e-book bundles that generated $4.75 million in revenue. Of that revenue, $3 million was generated by comics alone.

Out of the 18 DRM-free e-book bundles released by the site in 2014, 10 bundles were made up entirely of comics. The average bundle, according to Humble Bundle, generated $265,000.

Humble Bundle director of e-books Kelley Allen called the site’s first year offering bundles of prose e-books and digital comics, a rousing success; she expects to release two more bundles by year’s end.


Do the math and you can figure out that this was a tidy little bottom line enhancer for a bunch of comics publishers, as well as the CBLDF, one of the charity beneficiaries. Once you get over the DRM-free bugaboo it’s an excellent way to reach new readers as well—the site primarily appeals to gamers

The current bundle offers a ton of Dynamite comics and it’s a good deal — for only $15 you can get American Flagg, The Boys, Red Sonja and lots more. Now if only I had an iPAd big enough to hold all this stuff.

1 Comments on Humble Bundle sold $3 million worth of comics in 2014, last added: 12/21/2014
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5. Critiquing Secrets

Interested in writing a Chapter Book? Don’t miss this FREE WEBINAR with Hillary Homzie and Mira Reisberg on Friday January 2nd 2015 at 5.30pm PST! They are also going to give some late holiday presents for some lucky folks that include a free critique with Hillary or Mira and some free signed books. Wahoo! See more at: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/free-novel-writing-webinar.html#sthash.aEum3YJW.dpuf

Mira_pic2Mira is my Guest blogger for today’s post. Here’s Mira:

Critiquing Secrets by Mira Reisberg

First of all, thank you Kathy for having me on your fabulous blog. This site has been such a great resource for our community for a long time and I feel honored to be here. As we come to the end of the year, it seems like a good time to reflect on what we did to better our craft and improve our skills as people who create children’s books. Personally, I think it comes down to three things: take courses (i.e. study and improve your craft and keep revising), join the Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators, and join and participate in a critique group. For this post, I’d like to talk a little about critiquing and then share some critiquing secrets.

Over the past 26 years as an illustrator, author, editor, art director and former literary agent, I’ve learned that although your work is uniquely your own, you can’t exist in a vacuum. Receiving criticism from fellow writers or illustrators, and peers is a must have regular part of your creative process.
So let’s talk about the secrets of critiquing for plot-driven books.

After struggling with a piece, if you can, let it percolate for a while and then come back not only with a fresh eye, but with fresh sets of eyes. Other eyes may see what you have missed, offer a different perspective, and question what you have taken for granted.

While you may be tempted to have your mother, your significant other, or best friend critique your work, they should not be your only ‘eyes’. They’re not trained to critique, may not understand your work, and may try to protect your feelings, regardless of their true opinion.

So what are some great critique techniques? For plot-driven writers the main things you need to look for are:
• How enticing is the hook or beginning?
• Do we care or are we intrigued by the character(s) enough to want to find out more about them and their journey?
• Does the tension build as the main character faces challenges and obstacles along the way?
• Do they solve the problem themselves?
• Is the climax and resolution satisfying with a twist at the end?
• Is each character different with their own distinct voice?
• What makes this particular story memorable?
• Does it have any underlying universal themes that are meaningful for kids?
• How can the drama, humor, pathos, or whatever key feeling the story has, be amplified?
• Does the pacing move at a good speed or does it slow down anywhere? Is there redundancy or excess?
• And finally does the language sparkle with techniques like alliteration and assonance, rhythm and repetition where appropriate?

All of these suggestions will help you in the critiquing process to get to the core and heart of your story to make it stronger, sweeter, funnier, or whatever its essence more appealing and thus more marketable.

Finally, for tender newer critique groups or critiquing partners who are vulnerable, remember to use the hamburger technique of starting and ending with something positive and getting to the meat of what needs help in the middle. As creatives, we tend to be a little thin skinned and starting with something positive will make it easier for the person being critiqued to hear the more challenging suggestions.

BIO: Mira Reisberg Ph.D. has worn many hats in the industry including being a university professor teaching children’s literature and now as the Director of the Children’s Book Academy. Mira has taught and mentored many successful authors and illustrators.

Her next interactive e-course, for beginners to award winners, the Chapter Book Alchemist, co-taught by former comedian and award-winning chapter book author Hillary Homzie, promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with potential life and career changing benefits starts January 12th!

Click here to find out more: http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/the-chapter-book-alchemist.html

The course includes optional critique groups, weekly live webinar critiques, and the option for critiques with Mira or Hillary among other goodies!

Mira, thank you for taking the time to share your expertise with all of us. Good luck with the webinar!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, chapter books, list, opportunity, Tips Tagged: Critiquing Secrets, Free Chapter Book Webinar, Free critique, Hillary Homzie, Mira Reisberg

2 Comments on Critiquing Secrets, last added: 12/22/2014
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6. Webcomic Alert: New Christmas horror comic from Emily Carroll “All Along the Wall”

walltwo Webcomic Alert: New Christmas horror comic from Emily Carroll All Along the Wall

Talk about an early Christmas present.

Emily Carroll’s delicious and innovative horror comics are a yearly Halloween treat, and now she’s gifted us with a Christmas themed comic about two little girls who are perfect angels…or are they?

2 Comments on Webcomic Alert: New Christmas horror comic from Emily Carroll “All Along the Wall”, last added: 12/20/2014
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7. Derf gets turfed by Facebook

10869824 1375500346083007 7869172760891974963 o Derf gets turfed by Facebook

Derf’s cover for the Éditions çà et là 10th anniversary catalog

The other day, Tom Spurgeon linked to a Facebook post by cartoonist T Edward Bak in which he frets about the “money vs art vs oh god what the hell am I doing” feeling that many in the indie world are having, and which we’ve written about many times. In response I was about to go link to a fantastic FB post by Derf Backderf in which he talks about being a cancer survivor and what he’s done since—delivered the great book My Friend Dahmer, continued to cartoon, enjoyed life with his family, travelled the world. It was a wonderful life affirming post that puts a lot of things into perspective.

But….it was gone.

Along with the rest of Derf’s lively, informative FB page. Becuase Facebook decided that “Derf Backderf” isn’t a real name and turfed his entire account. Never mind that Backderf is his real name and Derf is a long-running nickname that’s good enough for the LIbrary of Congress. Not good enough that he’s won awards, appeared on TV and is a real life person that I and many others have had lunch with. Not good enough for Facebook.

Ever pragmatic, Backderf has already started a new page under his Christian name, John Backderf, but yeah, every other post and conversation lost.

If the Sony hack has taught us anything, it’s that maybe saving every thing on the web for all times isn’t a good idea, but we put our whole lives out in the hands of a few digital players….and they can take it all away in a heartbeat. I wrote a few months ago about how my Tumblr account was removed overnight for some infraction that was never explained to me. I managed to get it back but…oh the humanity. And of course, Google decided that I’m a porn site and took away my AdSense revenue.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: DON’T TRUST PROFIT SEEKING COMPANIES TO LOOK OUT FOR YOUR BEST INTERESTS. And Don’t put all your digital eggs in one basket! A few years ago a lot of cartooners switched over to FB as their main outlet, and I can see why — instant feedback from your peers, instant community. But it can all be taken away in an instant for reasons that don’t have anything to do with real life, just silly rules made by people who don’t seem to have any interaction with real life. (Just try to contact a Real Human at Google OR Fb.)

WordPress is also a profit seeking enterprise, but at least they give you the tools to do with as you please. Setting up your own site under your own URL takes a few minutes and a few bucks a year and gives you your OWN turf to do with as you please. It’s amazing that we’ve been given all these great tools for free, and we should take advantage of them, but don’t get seduced into think it’s all for OUR benefit.

As for the malaise thing, I quite enjoyed this quote from Mark Hamill on returning to the role of Luke Skywalker:

Given a second chance at playing Skywalker, three decades after that hero’s journey, the now 63-year-old actor says he tried to appreciate the experience more than he did before. Back when he made the original trilogy, he was just launching his career and the pressure was on. This time he said it was different than when he wrapped shooting on Jedi in 1982. “It’s kind of like Scrooge on Christmas morning. ‘Oh my God, this time I’m going to appreciate it in a way I wasn’t able to as a young man,’” Hamill says. “The fact that it is so special to so many people … it’s hard to believe you could take something for granted like that.”

 

11 Comments on Derf gets turfed by Facebook, last added: 12/22/2014
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8. When to Submit

Christmas Melissa Iwai

This sweet illustration was sent in my Melissa Iwai.  Melissa was featured on Illustrator Saturday.

When I meet a new writer and they ask me for advice, I always point out not to rush to submit what they have written. That advice comes from personal experience and many years of observation. When you are new you think everything you write is wonderful and it isn’t until a few years late and many rejections that you realize you better get into a critique group and learn to revise. The trouble is a writer can go on too long with revisions and setting things aside, so when Bebe sent me this short article I thought it might provide the inspiration you can use going into 2015.

Here’s Bebe:

bebeListening Too much or Self Doubt
By Bebe Willoughby

While people who worked in publishing above us hurried off to the Hamptons on Friday’s early summer dismissal, a co-worker and I stayed in the air conditioned office to write a book on dreams. Our lack of self-confidence prevented us from sending it out.

We tucked the manuscript safely in a drawer , where it stayed for four years. We joined a writing group and brought along the manuscript. The leader, a well-known writer/ illustrator, said it was publishable and encouraged us to send it out. So we did and got a quick call from an editor who wanted to publish it.

I have another tale to tell that involves doubting myself and listening to far too many people. I wrote a short story entitled “Nothing Lasts Forever.” None of my writer friends showed much enthusiasm, and a top editor told me I did not write well enough for major magazines. I lived with that declaration for quite some time. Then a friend who did not work in publishing advised: “send it out. You have nothing to lose.” She, of course, was right, but I had not seen it that way. My tale has a happy ending. The story was published in Seventeen magazine.

I encourage writers to have others read their work, but be careful about listening too hard. In the end, you must trust yourself.

Bebe Willoughby earned a M.F.A.in creative writing at Columbia University and is the author of five works of  fiction–four children and one novel for adults. She served for ten years as an editor at Random House.

Bebe, thank you for sharing your experiences with all of us. I hope it inspires everyone to get their revisions done and submit more of their writing and illustrating this year. Remember, it doesn’t always have to be a book contract to be successful. Wishing everyone a very successful 2015. Now’s the time to start think laying out a plan.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, authors and illustrators, bio, inspiration, Process, revisions, submissions Tagged: Bebe Willoughy, Melissa Iwai

6 Comments on When to Submit, last added: 12/22/2014
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9. Cancer for Christmas

My wife sat at her laptop furiously compiling the lists for our four girls. She checked it once, then again while travelling to website after website scouring the internet for the best price and delivery. Items were added to baskets and carts checked out at such a frantic pace that I literally felt a warmth emanate from the credit card in my back pocket. Shopping at a fever pitch – Christmas delivered in two days or less. Not like most years, where she disappears for hours on end to find the perfect gift at the mall. She doesn’t have time for that this year because we got cancer for Christmas.

We dlistidn’t ask for it. It wasn’t circled in the wishbook or written in red crayon. No one sat on Santa’s lap and begged for it. No, cancer just showed up unannounced and took our year away.

So rather than spending quality time with each of the girls to weigh their enormous wants against our limited budget as in years past, she spent Saturday morning hunting and pecking under great duress. Do they have the right size? Will it be delivered on time? Is that really something she will use or should we just give her cash?

At some point during the madness, I asked her what she wanted for Christmas. She paused to consider. Her eyes got red and her mouth failed her. She didn’t answer, but I knew. I knew what she wanted the second I asked the question and Amazon.com can’t deliver it, even though we are Prime members. It is the only thing either of us want.

 

We want our baby to stop hurting.

We want her to stop having to face treatments that make her sick and waste away.

We want her legs to work.

We want her to be able to go to school… to run, skip and play like every normal 12 year-old girl should.

We want her to stop coughing.

We want her hair to grow back so people don’t stare at her.

We want normal family time – not garbled, anxiety-laden, jumbled hodge-podge comings and goings where one is sick or two are missing for yet another appointment.

We want to relax and not worry.

We want to give cancer back.

 

I’ll take one of those please, Santa. Any size will do. No need to wrap it up because if you deliver it, the paper won’t last long. Oh, and you can ditch the receipt, I won’t be returning that gift.

I know many people are dealing with heartbreak and struggles. While Christmas is a season of love and giving, it also seems to magnify pain and loss. We don’t have the market cornered on hurt. I realize that.

It’s just that my wife loves Christmas so much. She loves everything about it, from finding the perfect, fattest tree to decorating every square inch of the house in some form of red and green. She loves the sound of the carols (save Feliz Navidad) and the smell of the baking, even though she is the one wearing an apron. She loves that, for the briefest of moments, the world focuses on the birth of our Savior. She loves taking a drive to see lights on houses and staying home with hot chocolate around a fire. She loves spending time with family, watching It’s a Wonderful Life, reading the nativity story, and candlelight Christmas Eve services. She loves the mad dash on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought… the joy and wonder on our children’s faces. She loves it all.

 

 

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How do we do it this year?

Should we skip it?

Or should we cherish every moment together as the babe in the manger intended us to? Maybe, instead of focusing on what we’ve lost, we should hold on to the fragile remains of what we have – love, family, friends, and a newfound respect for the precious thing that is life. We should cling to our little girl, who, though frail, is fighting hard and encouraging others to do the same.

We aren’t alone. During the year, we’ve been welcomed into the country club no one wants to join – the childhood cancer community. While we are bound together by common tragedy, it is the warmest, most caring and wonderfully supportive group imaginable. It is the fraternity I wish I’d never pledged. Many of our new brothers and sisters are dealing with such incredible loss, and this time of year must certainly be crippling.

 

 

When referring to the promised coming of the child in the manger, Isaiah said, “…and a little child shall lead them.”

What if we took a cue from our little child?

 

Although she is the one feeling the pain, nausea, and side effects of cancer, she is also the one most excited about Christmas. Even though she only had the strength to stand long enough to put a single ornament on the tree, she admires the finished product and loves to be in the den where she can see it. She is the one who insisted on taking decorations out of town with her while she has to be gone for treatment. She is the one snuggling her elves, dreaming about Christmas morning, and soaking up every minute of the nearness of family and Christ at this time of year. She holds a compress on an aching jaw with one hand and draws up surprises for those most dear with the other. In a year of typically rapid growth for a child her age, she weighs 75% of what she did last Christmas, yet she samples whatever treats her nervous stomach will allow. While we fret over diagnosis and treatment, she savors joy, plucks smiles from pain, and builds a resume of contentment that few on this earth have ever seen. Perhaps she has it right and we have it all wrong.

 

Kylie hanging her favorite ornament

Kylie hanging her favorite ornament

Instead of looking to health and prosperity for our happiness, what if, just for a moment, we set aside our problems – however overwhelming, and looked to the manger, toward a child – with gratitude for his coming and a longing for his return? What if we laughed in the face of the enemy, knowing that we are wonderfully cared for and uniquely loved? What if we hoped, even when victory was uncertain? What if we dreamed of a better tomorrow regardless of what it may hold?

What if we smiled more…

This joyous Christmas, our family holds on to hope. Together, we look to the manger, to Jesus Christ our Lord for strength and healing. We dream of the day when there is a cure – for our child & every child. We pray that next year, not a single family will have to unwrap cancer for Christmas.


Filed under: From the Writer

8 Comments on Cancer for Christmas, last added: 12/21/2014
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10. PiBoIdMo Announcement and 2015 Sneak Peeks

Thank you for your patience with the PiBoIdMo winner announcements. I intend to get to them prior to year’s end, so I hope you’ll stick around just a while longer. Here, have a cookie. If you can catch him, that is.

gingy

All grand prize winners plus Pre-PiBo and Post-PiBo winners have been notified via email. If you were a winner and did not receive an email, please contact me.

In the meantime, let me leave you with a gentle reminder (which you don’t really need, do you?) to give a book as a gift this holiday! Garrison Keillor said it best…

bookgift

And since it’s almost 2015, here are sneak peeks from my upcoming titles to be released in August, September and October (talk about bada-bing, bada-boom-boom-BOOM!). Funny how these books were each signed within one year of each other, but they’re being released within one month of each other!

I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK (Aladdin/S&S, August 2015)
illustrated by Benji Davies

bearyellowstone

NORMAL NORMAN (Sterling, September 2015)
illustrated by S.Britt

normandunebuggy

LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD (Random House, October 2015)
illustrated by Troy Cummings

wolf (1)

Once again, thanks for your patience with the PiBoIdMo winner announcements.

And may you and your family have a joyful holiday season!

(I hope you receive some really cool writerly gift!)


10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Announcement and 2015 Sneak Peeks, last added: 12/18/2014
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11. Holiday mode…engage!

10264471 10152554469872058 6148119029212554652 n Holiday mode...engage!

I imagine most of you reading this aren’t reading this, but are already off on your holiday travels. While the team at Stately Beat Manor is going to remain vigilant for exciting, world changing breaking news, we’re going into “holiday mode” for posting, which is about the same as the regular mode except we gave it a name. But to make the holidays bright, I have some previews, art, webcomic alerts and maybe a few other surprises lined up in case you get bored. In the meantime, safe travels and happy holidays to all.

Image mysteriously spotted on Facebook.

1 Comments on Holiday mode…engage!, last added: 12/22/2014
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12. Free Fall Friday – Sad and Happy – Tummy Growling

christmasillo

These reindeers created by Christine Brallier are getting ready to take off on their Christmas Eve trip to help Santa deliver his gifts. It is from her children’s book, The Night Before Christmas.  The illustrations were created by Christine using stained glass mosaics. http://www.cbmosaics.com/book/

Creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog Norman Bridwell, 86, died last Friday at a hospital on Martha’s Vineyard. Scholastic says his over 150 titles have 129 million copies in print worldwide. Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson said, “Norman personified the values that we as parents and educators hope to communicate to our children – kindness, compassion, helpfulness, gratitude – through the Clifford stories which have been loved for more than fifty years.”

catchthecookie8b1a562c-48a0-4bfc-901c-64adfdf13395_zps49ace1cc Jama Kim Rattigan on her blog, Jama’s Alphabet Soup, featured H CATCH THAT COOKIE. I feature the book written by Hallie Drand (A.K.A Holly McGhee) and illustrated by David Small in August. You can click their names to view those posts. But Jama’s post are so much fun. She always ties books in with recipes.

I think I am going to try the recipe for the cookies in the post and show them off like she did with the book during Christmas.

Below is a list of the Ingredients, click the Directions at the bottom to jump back over to Jama’s blog to read the rest and see her fun display of her cookies and the book.

GINGERBREAD CUTOUT COOKIES

Total Time: Prep: 30 minutes + chilling. Bake: 10 minutes/batch + cooling.

Yield: 60 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Vanilla frosting of your choice
  • Red and green paste food coloring

Directions:

4_AB_ALetterto_ReinharzChildren’s writer Jennifer Reinharz reported a few months ago that she became a contributing writer at Mamalode. Her second article, A Letter to my Palestinian-American Muslim Friend has been posted. They track the number of unique views, likes, comments, and shares and they base her success on this, so if you get a chance take a minute to read her new article.

Jennifer says, “My path to Kidlit author has yet to be a straight line, but I can’t help but think that getting a chance to connect and share one of my stories with the Mommies, etc. is an example of heading right direction.”

This is a goods lesson for all of us. You just never know where your next success will come from and how one little thing can lead to another.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: inspiration, Kudos, News Tagged: Christine Brallier, Clifford the Big Red Dog, David Small, Hallie Durand, Jama's Alphabet Soup, Jennifer Reinharz, Norman Bridwell

10 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Sad and Happy – Tummy Growling, last added: 12/20/2014
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13. HoHoDooDa 2014 Day… oh who knows

god rest ye merry gentlemen 2

Just when you thought you were safe from puns for the rest of the holidays…

Why not take a stroll on over here for links to see what the rest of the HoHoDooDa doodlers are doing.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the heck HoHoDooDa is, check this out.


1 Comments on HoHoDooDa 2014 Day… oh who knows, last added: 12/22/2014
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14. Rukhsana Khan on Cross-Cultural Writing and Achieving True Diversity

This November I attended the NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Annual Convention in Washington, DC and was overwhelmed by the broad focus on diversity in children’s books. Though many of us have been aware of this issue for years (or even decades) it is often a topic set aside for one or two poorly-attended panels located at inconvenient times in back rooms.

Not this year.

This year, NCTE dedicated part of the conference’s Opening Session to the topic. In front of over a thousand people, a panel of authors including Rukhsana Khan, Christopher Myers, Matt de la Peña, and Mitali Perkins spoke about their experiences with diversity—and the lack thereof—in children’s book publishing. Expert Rudine Sims Bishop moderated the panel.

Panels on this topic, even those with heavy-hitters like the people mentioned above, rarely receive this kind of audience or placement. As part of the Opening Session, the panel set the tone for the whole conference, and made a major statement: we will not ignore this problem. Kudos to NCTE for making that statement, and to all of us for creating an environment this year in which such a statement was possible. Below, we have asked Rukhsana Khan to share her comments from the panel:

NCTE Opening Session Panel, from L to R: Rudine Sims Bishop, Rukhsana Khan, Matt de la Peña, Christopher Myers, Mitali Perkins

NCTE Opening Session Panel, from L to R: Rudine Sims Bishop, Rukhsana Khan, Matt de la Peña, Christopher Myers, Mitali Perkins (image provided by NCTE)

Rukhsana Khan: When I was a young girl, growing up in a small Judeo-Christian town, a friend of mine told me this joke. I don’t mean to offend anyone and in fact, I myself found it racist, but I tell it here to make a point:

Once there was a Catholic who lived in a farmhouse.

On a cold stormy night there came a knock at the door. It was a man.

He said, “Please sir, could I have shelter? I’m half frozen and very hungry.”

The owner of the farmhouse said, “Are you Catholic?”

The man said, “Yes.”

“Oh! Come on in and rest yourself there by the fire!”

A little while later another knock came at the door.

It was another man, half frozen, asking for shelter.

The owner said, “Are you Catholic?”

The man said, “Yes.”

“Oh! Come on in and rest yourself there by the fire!”

A little while later another knock came.

It was another man, half frozen.

“Are you Catholic?”

“No, I’m Protestant.”

The owner said, “Oh. Well there’s some room there on the porch. Maybe if you press yourself against the window you can get some warmth from the fire.”

Now, make no mistake. I found this joke to be very offensive, but I didn’t say anything. But to myself, I thought, “Wow. If this is how one Christian talks about another Christian, what the hell do they think of me?”

And ever since then I’ve always felt like I was out there on the porch, looking in, to a warm scene of people gathered around a fire, but the warmth doesn’t penetrate the glass of the window.

Growing up in such a community, I used books to survive.

The books I feasted on were from the library. I didn’t know you could purchase books! As immigrants we had enough problems just keeping food on the table, so there was never money for books!

And I remember reading one of the Anne of Green Gables books, one of the later ones, Anne of the Island or something and I got to a point where L. M. Montgomery refers to ‘those heathen Muhammadans,’and I couldn’t believe it!

Rukhsana Speaks with Rudine Sims Bishop

Rukhsana speaks with Rudine Sims Bishop

She was talking about me!

Couldn’t she ever have imagined that one of those ‘heathen Muhammadans’ would one day be reading one of her Anne books and identifying so much with the characters, thinking that aunt was just like so and so, and that uncle was just like this uncle of hers???

I got so mad I threw the book across the room.

And once more I felt like I was out on the porch, looking in.

We need diverse books! But what really constitutes diversity?

These days there’s an awful lot of books that pass as diverse literature, that are written by white feminists, who mean well, but I wonder how well they can really penetrate the cultural paradigms of the ethnicities they write about.

I mean how can someone from inside the cabin really comprehend what it’s like to be out there on the porch, when they’re sheltered and warm from the fire?

And think about it. When you’re in a well-lit house, looking out onto a dark porch, the windows act as mirrors. You can’t properly see outside! It’s your own world that’s reflected back at you.

And as a result many of these books just come down to plunking a white kid in an exotic setting and writing the story as they would react to it!

What kind of diversity is that?

We can’t just color the kid in the story brown or what-have-you and maintain western ways of thinking. Kids need to be exposed not to just characters of another color but also different cultural thinking and ways of problem solving.

We need to be less superficial.

Because ultimately, how can we ask children to think outside the box when they’re living so firmly within it?

Rukhsana KhanRukhsana Khan is the author of several award-winning books published in the United States and Canada including, most recently, King for a Day. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, she and her family immigrated to Canada when she was three. Khan’s stories enable children of all backgrounds to connect with cultures of Eastern origins. Khan lives with her husband and family in Toronto, Canada. 


Filed under: Diversity 102, Educator Resources, Fairs/Conventions Tagged: NCTE, Rukhsana Khan, writing cross-culturally

2 Comments on Rukhsana Khan on Cross-Cultural Writing and Achieving True Diversity, last added: 12/22/2014
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15. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 12/18/14: Get well soon, Norm Breyfogle

§ Veteran Batman artist and nice guy Norm Breyfogle has suffered a stroke, as reported by his ex-wife. He’s expected to make a full recovery but send good thoughts.

coversofstolenbooks 00002 Kibbles n Bits 12/18/14: Get well soon, Norm Breyfogle

§ Wow Cool/ Alternative Comics recently suffered a break in robbery and a bunch of indie comics were stolen. Boy are they in for a surprise! You can see the whole list in the link, and some covers above. As Wow Cool is a distributor as well as a publisher, it wasn’t just Alternative Comics that were taken. You can help out by buying some books.

§ Kieron Gillen talks The Wicked + The Divine at Vox.

§ And very influential Boom!/BoomBox editor Shannon Watters gets interviewed at CBR:

I consider it a really important part of my job because I feel like a kid who read “Adventure Time” is not just going to put down “Adventure Time” and call it a day. Well, maybe he or she is, but when I was a kid, I wanted to know everything. I looked at the ads in the back of my comics and was like, that looks really cool, I’m going to go get that. I had a gateway drug comic and it all spun out of that. I really want to kids to read “Adventure Time” and then read “Dinosaur Comics.” Or see a cover that they really like and seek out that person’s personal work. You don’t want to create a kids comics culture that’s just predicated on them buying “Adventure Time” because they love “Adventure Time” and then being done with comics. You want to create a situation where you have turned these kids onto this art form and now they’re checking out everything–or they’re making their own comics. Not everything is going to be to everybody’s taste, and so scouting new talent and interesting talent and people who are doing interesting things is just so, so important. Getting those people’s stuff in front of people’s eyes is essential and one of my favorite things about my job. I devote a lot of time and energy to that and a lot of time and energy to thinking about who’s going to bring the best to a certain book or concept. I’m lucky that I get to that. I’m really lucky BOOM! encourages me in that way.

 

§ In advance of the Mumbai Comic Con this weekend founder Jatin Varma recommends comics from many continents.

Here’s a video of New Yorker cartoonists Sam Gross, Arnie Levin, Lee Lorenz and Victoria Roberts chatting with Richard Gehr at SVA.

§ Director Tim Burton helped kick off the “modern” superhero movie with Batman, but now he’s totally over it.

“Marvel, they have their thing and there’s a certain formula to it all which seems to still be working,” Burton told Yahoo Movies. “But how many times can you say ‘you’re wearing a funny costume’ with the tights and stuff? That’s been going on for 20 years now. Yes, we all know that superheroes are damaged individuals. Maybe we need to see a happy superhero?” Later in the same interview, he added “you think we need more superhero movies? It keeps on going. It’s amazing how long it’s been going for and it just keeps getting stronger and stronger. Some day people will get sick of it.”

 

§ BEST OF/FAVORITE COMICS OF 2014 LIST CORNER: Mental Floss has a list that goes from She Hulk to Study Group with conviction.

§ And two people with lists I really enjoyed Robert Boyd and Whit Taylor.

2 Comments on Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 12/18/14: Get well soon, Norm Breyfogle, last added: 12/20/2014
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16. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 12/11/14: Krazy Kat vs Little Nemo

§ Actually, Julian Darius wrote the headline used in this KnB title, but it’s the essential comics match up of all times, right? Also, Winsor McCay wasn’t a very good letterer. IN case you’re wondering where I stand, I love them both, but I’ve always been a Krazy Kat girl—there was just more substance to it.

2 cartoon jam Kibbles n Bits 12/11/14: Krazy Kat vs Little Nemo

§ Speaking of great early 20th century comic strips, here’s a write up of Peter Maresca’s recent talk on this topic, which I really wanted to go to, but couldn’t, luckily…here’s a write up by Monica Johnson.

§ In Malaysia, they are introducing the ‘Kampung Boy Award’ to recognize local talent.

Malaysian Cartoonist Club executive council member Ahmad Hilmy Abdullah said the idea to introduce the award was mooted by Malaysian cartoonist icon Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid or Lat, together with other cartoonists in the country. He said with the involvement of many cartoonists and animators in the country’s arts industry now, it was time for such an award to be introduced.

§ This Janelle Asselin interview with Archie Comics Publicity VP Alex Segura is a must read, just because Alex is one of the nicest guys in comics and one of the very, very best at his job. HOW DOES HE DO IT?

CA: What sort of responsibilities are at the top of the list for someone in your career?

AS: You have to be a good communicator, writer and people person. I’ve met people who are very organized, detail-oriented and know a lot about comics, but they can’t have a conversation. That’s fine, but you’re probably not going to be a publicist. Like I said before, you can have all the contacts in the world, but if you don’t know how to talk to them – as honestly as possible – then it’s pointless. Writing skills are key – you have to be able to craft convincing text, whether it’s an email to a reporter, a pitch letter with a review copy or a presentation to your internal staff – you have to know how to string sentences together that are clear, easy to understand and that have a point of view. We’re on a 24-hour news cycle now. I know that’s a tired term, but it’s true. If that email you send to a reporter is long-winded, doesn’t get to the crux of your pitch right away or is confusing, you’ve lost that moment and you may have lost that reporter. Also, if you make a mistake, own up to it. We’re all people, we all have bad days – I think being human in a situation where your job is all about interacting with people inside and outside your office is really important. I’m not perfect at this, but I try to be as understanding as possible. You have to be a social creature. You have to know how to have a conversation with a complete stranger without too many awkward pauses. You should be a good listener, because publicity isn’t just about telling, it’s a conversation. You should go into a pitch knowing that the detailed thing you’re offering isn’t going to come out exactly the way you planned it because it’s going through the filter of someone else. But, knowing that, you should let the people who are also waiting on the story from your side know the chance of this.

 

§ Graeme McMillan is back at Newsarama? Here he takes down Tim Burton and Grant Morrison for recent pooh-poohing of things they did themselves in the past:

In its way, it’s oddly disheartening to see both men — who, to different degrees, owe much success to the very things they’re campaigning against — make these comments. Part of it is the uncomfortable feeling of gratefulness that ensues, sure, as well as that awkward sense that maybe all creators eventually become curmudgeonly and begrudge that which they’re no longer a part of (See also: Alan Moore, Frank Miller). But even moreso, there’s the fact that, really..? Both men are wrong.

 

§ Future Wonder Woman director Michelle McLaren is interviewed at Vultere and let’s slip that Wonder Woman hasn’t actually been green lit yet. Ok.

speedaba Kibbles n Bits 12/11/14: Krazy Kat vs Little Nemo

§ Zainab Akhtar looks at The Speed Abater by the great Cristolphe Blain:

I have two favourite books set on ships (it’s a rather specific thing)-  Ian Edginton and D’Israeli’s Leviathan, and this. Both manage to convey the monumental size of the engines, the scale of pipes and machines, the heat and grime, the noise, the knots of metal, the atmosphere. Much like spacecraft in sci-fi films like Alien, the ship here is a character in itself, and these are the innards; the belly of the beast which set the tone of what’s to come as the men become lost and confused, delving further into their psyches. Blain’s gone hatching happy in this panel: it’s the first time the men are seeing below deck and the combination of impressive grandeur and realistic depiction is on point- all twisty, bronze pipes, looming space, steam and shade.

I also have a soft spot for comic books set at sea where people slowly go nuts or have horrible, horrible things happen to them, including both of these. Among the others: Mattotti’s Fires, Drew Weing’s Set to Sea (just rereleased), Sammy Harkham’s Poor Sailor, and Tony Millionaire’s Maakies much of the time. There’s also Chris Wright’s Blacklung, which I didn’t enjoy as much because his character designs seemed inexpressive to me. I know that’s part of his style, but it just didn’t work for me.

§ BEST OFS! •Hugh Armitage at Digital Spy has a pretty good list.
The Vancouver Sun
Abraham Riesman at Vulture

68 tumblrn50lioqsxi1rzbt9wo1500 Kibbles n Bits 12/11/14: Krazy Kat vs Little Nemo
• And Sean T. Collins who has the most PARTICULAR list I’ve read. That’s a panel from Koch’s Configurations above.

Sex Fantasy, Sophia Foster-Dimino
911 Police State, Mr. Freibert
Baby Bjornstrand, Renee French
Palm Ash, Julia Gfrörer
Configurations, Aidan Koch

§ And for those ready to move on to 2015 (and who isn’t?) the Comics Reporter’s Five For Friday has a bunch of lists of stuff coming out next year people are looking forward to.

§ First second twofer! Gina Gagliano addresses Should You Quit Your Day Job When You Get a Book Deal? and also I interviewed senior Editor Callista Brill for Publisher’s Weekly More to Comic podcast. She talks about the making of The Wrenchies, Andrew the Giant, and Jay Hosler’s upcoming Last of the Sandwalkers, which is all about beetles.

§ I would imagine many folks would be interested in Tips for getting ‘Staff Pick’ on Kickstarter.

§ Cosplay from the The 36 best cosplay from Mumbai Comic Con 2014. Spoiler: it’s good.

§ Peter Jackson is quoted saying he never read a comic book in his life so he can’t direct a comic book movie. Except he’s supposed to direct the next Tintin, isn’t he? I haven’t seen much talk about that in the Hobbit pr tour. Also, I think it is safe to say that Jackson has read Tintin, so…something is amiss.

§ I guess this could be construed as concern trolling, but Bleeding Cool’s makeover is actually a text only “makeunder” that goes back to the good old days of Geocities. YUCK. I mention this so I can quote the Outhouse headline: North Korean Hackers Strike Again, Deface Bleeding Cool’s Website. In protest, I made the image on the Beat’s front page BIGGER.

§ I tend to take the Good E-reader site with a grain of salt but here’s ae-Reader Industry Year in Review

§ TWO from Bob Temuka. A long interview with Dylan Horrocks and a review of the beautiful disgust of Charles Burns: X’ed Out, The Hive and Sugar Skull. The finish of Burns’ “Nitnit trilogy” as I like to call it, was one of the most perfect and amazing books of the year.

§ Finally, Norwegian cartoonist Jason reviews Lethal Weapon.

3 Comments on Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 12/11/14: Krazy Kat vs Little Nemo, last added: 12/22/2014
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17. Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Oh, it’s a big one.  A big honking preview, this is.  Yes indeed, folks, Harper Collins is in town and they’ve a mess of good looking books just aching to arrive on your shelves.  Now the last time I attending a preview for HC I was massively pregnant with back pain to match.  This time around, in comparison, I was positively lithe, leaping from table to table as the editors showed us their pretty baubles.  Here then is an encapsulation of some of the goodies that will be hitting shelves nationwide fairly soon.  To wit:

Table One

At these librarian previews we the MLIS degree holders move from table to table, where each imprint gets its own say.  With Table One we began with Greenwillow and a season that’s going to feel a little distant to us for a while:

Finding Spring by Carin Berger (97800622510193)

FindingSpring Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Cute, right?  In this story a bear is searching for spring.  So what does he find instead?  Snow.  Lots of it.  Done in Berger’s customary collage style, this is one artistic little book that rewards close reading.  Note, for example, that the snowflakes and flowers see in these pages are held in place by tiny pins.  Sort of gives the whole book a three-dimensional feel.  Gorgeous.

For a closer look at the interior art, stop on by Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for a sneak peek.

Red by Michael Hall (9780062252074)

Red Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

I actually already talked a bit about this one back during the last Harper Collins preview, but I like it so very much that I’ll mention it again.  To wit, snarky faceless crayons populate a book where a blue crayon is mislabeled as red.  A pencil tells the tale (as you might imagine).  I’m already imagining a LOT of applications for this as a gift book.  It sells itself.

Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson (9780062274472)

 TouchBrightestStar 500x500 Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Since the popularity of Press Here by Herve Tullet, a load of different interactive picture books have swamped the market.  The best of these do more than simply tout their interactive elements, though.  And those that have a purpose above and beyond the directives aimed at child readers tend to be worth seeking out.  In Matheson’s latest, kids are encouraged to embrace the dark rather than fear it. Touch the firefly and watch it glow on the next page.  That sort of thing.  It’s interactive bedtime fare and even includes some night sky info as well.  Matheson first started these series of sorts with Tap the Magic Tree.  The plans for the third book in the works?  Planting a seed.  Awwww, yeah.

Backyard Witch: Sadie’s Story by Christine Heppermann, ill. Deborah Marcero (9780062338389)

BackyardWitch Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

That’s clever.  They were pitching this early chapter title as something to hand to the Ivy & Bean lovers of the world.  Of course it has magic in it, but that’s okay.  If author Christine Heppermann’s name sounds familiar that may be because she was recently responsible for the very YA Poisoned Apples this year. Switching gears a tad, she is now coming out with a story of Sadie.  When her two best friends go on vacation without her, she’s none too pleased.  A trip to her play house leads to the discovery of a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle type witch.  She’s asked to help find the witch’s friends.  One is a bird (a yellow warbler) who was turned avian by mistake.  And since I’m always desperate for early readers, I’m excited to give this one a go.

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (9780062238610)

BlackbirdFly Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Oo. This one sounds exciting.  Written by an author who was born in the Philippines and moved to Louisiana, the book features a Filipino girl dealing with growing up.  The girls at school are no longer nice and her mom runs her home as if she’s still in the Philippines.  She would prefer to learn the guitar and emulate her favorite artist – George Harrison.  Sounds good.

Anyone but Ivy Pocket by Caleb Krisp (9780062364340)

IvyPocket Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Note, if you will, the tiny skulls on the cover.  From what I could gather then it was a kind of Amelia Bedelia by way of Downton Abbey in a Tim Burton-like book with a Lemony Snicketesque plot.  Got that?  In this story the titular Ivy must deliver a diamond to a girl on her birthday.

Waiting by Kevin Henkes (9780062368430)

Waiting Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

I have excellent news.  I’ve seen the Caldecott winner of 2016.  You see?  I just saved you an entire year’s work.  Slap your hands together, folks, because your work is done.  Yes, Kevin Henkes has a new picture book coming out and it is absolutely fascinating.  The toys on the cover are, you see, waiting.  Based on Kevin’s kids’ own toys, the story takes place at a single setting: the window.  And you would be amazed how much drama can be derived from such a location.  Beautiful beautiful beautiful  . . . and not out until September 2015.  Sorry, guys.

The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon (9780062320940)

Adélaïde Radio Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

What you’re seeing here isn’t the cover so much as an example of some of the full-color art found in this title.  Three kids (Archer, Adelaide, and Oliver) are waiting for an adventure.  Their intent?  To find Archer’s grandparents, last seen on an iceberg.  Add in a pinch of a Hitchcockian flavor and maybe a little Wes Anderson and you’ve got yourself a fascinating little number.

Table Two

Ding!  Moving on.

Bunnies by Kevan Atteberry (9780062307835)

Bunnies Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

I’m always on the lookout for that rarest of rare beasts: The very young readaloud picture book.  And in this story you will find precisely that.  Not too dissimilar from Bob Shea’s 2014 title Don’t Play With Your Food, the story centers on a monster with a serious bunny obsession.  They appear.  They disappear.  They don’t seem to care that all he wants in the whole entire world is just to see them.  Awww.

Teddy Mars Book #1: Almost a World Record Breaker by Molly B. Burnham, ill. Trevor Spencer (9780062278104)

TeddyMars Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Teacher debut alert!  There are many things I could tell you about this book, but I think I’m just going to leave you will the first line (which may be slightly paraphrased, so forgive me if it’s not 100% accurate): “The day my brother crawled into the catbox I knew my life would never be the same.”

What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virjan (9780062327246)

WhatThisStory Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

I’m also always on the lookout for picture books with very simple texts.  When the Geisel Award goes to picture books, I stand up and cheer.  Seems to me that this book, described as containing a text, “where every single word is important,” fits the bill. The plot is simple.  There is a pig.  Too many animals jump into her boat.  Hijinks ensue.

Stick Dog Dreams of Ice Cream by Tom Watson (9780062278074)

StickDogIceCream Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Were you aware that Stick Dog started as an app?  Not I, said the fly.  Now on his third book, the eternally hungry hero continues to lure in readers not yet ready for Wimpy Kid, looking for something with slightly more text than Bad Kitty.  And the good news?  Stick Cat is on the horizon.  Woohoo!

Little Miss, Big Sis by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, ill. Peter H. Reynolds (9780062302038)

LittleMiss Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Last seen in the book Plant a Kiss, two siblings return to the picture book stage.  Clever in its simplicity (and how has no one ever thought to write a title like this one before?) the book contains a young but very funny text.  And since funny is at a premium these days, this is a book I’ll be looking to read.

Lazy Dave by Peter Jarvis (9780062355980)

LazyDave 500x411 Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

One namer children’s authors are not unheard of (Avi, anyone?).  And like all one namers, Jarvis actually has two.  His name is Peter Jarvis and in 2015 he’ll be debuting with a story of a girl an her dog.  The girl in question loves the dog but is perturbed by the fact that he’s so ding dang lazy.  Truth is, the dog gets up to a LOT of adventures.  He just happens to experience them through sleepwalking.  Certainly this will pair well with that recent TOON book Tippy and the Night Parade, that’s for sure.  Look for Jarvis to come out with Forgetful Fred at some point as well.

Table Three

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai (9780062229182)

ListenSlowly Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

I covered this book briefly in my last Harper Collins preview, but it’s just so nice I’ll cover it twice.  Coming from the author of Inside Out and Back Again, this book is Thanhha Lai’s first title since she won her Newbery Honor.  No pressure or anything.  Fortunately it looks as though she’s not let the win go to her head.  Like her last book, this story also features a child of Vietnamese parents, but there the similarities pretty much stop.  Writing in prose, in this contemporary novel a girl lives in Orange County with her family and grandmother.  When her grandma discovers that there may be new information about her husband, who disappeared during the Vietnam War, our heroine finds herself forced to go along.  Inspired by family history it’s getting starred reviews left and right.  Better check it out then.

Ferals by Jacob Grey (9780062321039)

Ferals Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

10 points to the author and publisher for not naming this book “Crow Boy”.  The temptation to do so must have been extreme.  I mean, c’mon.  “Raised by crows”?  Writes itself.  Described to us as “Batman meets The Graveyard Book” (surprised they didn’t reference the film The Crow as well) the story stars a boy named Caw.  He has the ability to speak to crows, which marks him as a “feral”.  Now the most evil feral, a fellow known as the Spinning Man, is returning.  Beware the spiders, folks.

The Last Dragon Charmer #1: Villain Keeper (9780062308436)

VillainKeeper Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Here’s a term you may never hear again, but that just sounds interesting: Reverse portal fantasy. Know what it is?  Well, the plot of this book might give you a hint.  In this story a prince wants to slay a dragon.  Pretty standard stuff.  Or at least it would be if the prince wasn’t mysteriously sent to Asheville, NC.  Number of dragons in Asheville?  Zero.  Or so you might think . . . They said this would be a good complementary title to The Hero’s Guide for Saving Your Kingdom.  Absolutely.

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia (9780062215871)

GoneCrazy Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

It’s here!  It’s here!  It’s almost here!  In April or so we’ll be seeing the third and final volume in the Rita Williams-Garcia series that began with One Crazy Summer. I thoroughly approve of the clothes featured on the cover here (the bell bottoms on book #2 still rankle).  In this book the girls take a bus to visit Big Ma in the family home.  The time period is Summer 1969.  The place?  Alabama.  And the three find out pretty quickly that they are not exactly in the best possible time and place to be chanting Black Power slogans.  The editor, Rosemary Brosnan, said in all seriousness that it’s the best of the three.

Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly, ill. Skottie Young (9780062272713)

Monstrous Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

They say it’s Frankenstein meets the Brothers Grimm but I suspect there might be a bit of Monster High stuck in there on the side.  Meet our heroine.  She has the eyes of a cat, the wings of a raven, and she has one purpose in life: To rescue girls under the spell of an evil wizard.  Simple, right?  But when you’re a monster you have to learn that sometimes there are things and people out there even more monstrous than you.

Endangered by Lamar Giles (9780062297563)

Endangered Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Yep.  This one’s a YA novel but I’m highlighting it because it’s one of the very rare titles with a contemporary African-American girl on the cover.  Little wonder.  It’s by #WeNeedDiverseBooks fellow Lamar Giles.  Well played.

Table 4

Meet the Dullards by Sara Pennypacker, ill. Daniel Salmieri (978006198563)

Dullards Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Now again, we talked about this book before, but there’s a lot to love here.  Salmieri, man.  That kid’s going places.  It hurts matters not a jot that his Dragons Love Tacos is on the New York Times bestseller list every week right now (sidenote: the best Dragons Love Tacos video of all time is here).  In this book long time pro Pennypacker pairs with Salmieri to present what may be the greatest childhood metaphor of all time.  Mom and Dad are dull.  Proudly so, and like all good parents they are attempting to inculcate their children in the wide and wonderful world of blahness.  Trouble is, the kids are dangerously attracted to activities more interesting than watching paint dry.  The description? “The Stupids with boring people”.  Nice.

Cat and Bunny by Mary Lundquist (9780062287809)

CatBunny 500x474 Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Doesn’t look like much from the cover, does it?  But doggone it if this isn’t one of the cleverer little books coming out right now.  A debut, the book features a large menagerie (for lack of a better word) of kids in animal costumes.  In this book, a topic horribly familiar to many a kiddo is tackled: Sharing your best friend.  Quail, you see, wants to play with Bunny but Cat is NOT down with that plan.  Understanding ensues.  Talk about a topic parents ask for that we hardly have any books to cover!!  Note: My table insisted that the endpapers be turned into a poster someday.

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson (9780062298898)

IfYouPlant 500x500 Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Kadir continues with the cute.  Picasso had his Blue Period.  Kadir has his Cute Period.  Described as “intense”, in this book a mouse and a rabbit plant a seed.  What ensues is a tale of selfishness, kindness, karma, and consequences.

First Snow by Peter McCarty (9780062189967)

FirstSnow 500x464 Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Okay.  So we need diverse books, right?  Absolutely.  But don’t we also need diverse animal stories?  Is there any reason why animals can’t be diverse as well?  Peter McCarty has always been remarkably good in this arena.  Now he continues his series of books starring familiar characters.  He began with Henry In Love, continued with Chloe, and now we have First Snow.  Pedro is from South America and has come to spend time with his cousins in the north.  When they learn that he has no experience with snow they insist that he join in the fun.  He takes some convincing, of course.  Snow is, and it’s hard to argue with this, cold.  Fortunately a sledding mishap ends with the unintentional consequence of Pedro suddenly loving the white, fluffy, and (yes) cold stuff.  Great great great.

Every Little Bit of You is Yummy! by Tim Harrington (9780062328168)

EveryLittleBit Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Like a lot of librarians I’m always on the lookout for good picture book readalouds.  Did you see Jbrary’s 2014 Favourite Storytime Picture Books?  That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about.  So I was intrigued by what Harrington is doing here.  Like a kind of follow-up to Eric Carle’s From Head to Toe, the book is interactive with a song online to boot.

Masterminds by Gordon Korman (9780062299963)

Masterminds Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

The heart wants what it wants.  And what my heart wants right now is for 2015 to arrive so that I can finally pick this book up and read it.  For whatever reason, Gordon Korman has managed to pen a book that pushes all my buttons.  As a kid I would have been all over this thing.  You see, in this book a group of kiddos live in a kind of Pleasantville-ish town.  They’re good kids too.  Then one day a kid bicycles to the town limits and pretty quickly they discover that nothing they know is the truth.  They’re a sociological experiment in the making and their purpose has yet to reveal itself.

The Girl in the Torch by Rob Sharenow (9780062227959)

GirlTorch Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Here in New York we children’s librarians keep one eye peeled at all times for NYC-related children’s book fare.  Happily there’s a bloody ton of it out there.  Case in point, a book they’re calling “Hugo Cabret meets True Grit“.  While on Ellis Island a girl’s mother dies in quarantine.  So what’s a daughter to do?  With the prospect of deportation looming, our heroine does what any forward thinking young woman would.  She decides to live in the torch of The Statue of Liberty.  Tackling big themes like what it means to be “American”, this just sounds fun.

Joey and Johnny, the Ninjas: Get Mooned by Kevin Serwacki, ill. Chris Pallace (9780062299338)

JoeyJohnny Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Speaking of fun: Ninjas!  Ninjas make everything better.  The first in a four book series, imagine if Roald Dahl wrote a story about a ninja school and it was then animated by the creators of Adventure Time.  That’s what you’ll get in this book of two competing ninja schools.  Apparently the book tackles the tricky issue of taking the easy way out of things.  With ninjas.  Did I mention that part before?

Moonpenny Island by Tricia Springstubb (9780062112934)

MoonpennyIsland Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Gilbert Ford.  I hope he’s very rich by now.  Periodically middle grade book covers go through phases.  There was the Brett Hardinger phase for a while, and before that the C.F. Payne phase.  Now it’s all Gilbert Ford all the way.  He started out luring in the kiddos with the Pseudonymous Bosch “Secret” series, and cemented his reign with the Newbery Honor book Three Times Lucky.  There’s just something appealing about his style.  Now he’s done the cover for the latest Tricia Springstubb novel.  This book is about seeing things for the first time.  It’s also about a mom who leaves to take care of grandma, themes of evolution, and a load of trilobites (note the cover).

The Dungeoneers by John David Anderson (9780062338143)

Dungeoneers Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Hard to tell.  Is this a Dan Santat cover?  Sure looks like one.  In any case, the author of the delightful Sidekicked is back, but not with any superhero tales this time.  Nope, this is a story of Colm.  He’s a peasant who, quite frankly is fed up with being a peasant.  After picking the wrong pocket (to put it mildly) Colm’s given a choice.  He could be done away with in a suitably medieval manner or he can become a member of low born adventurers.  He chooses the latter and is enthralled, until he realizes that there are problem with this particular group.

Omega City by Diana Peterfreund (9780062310859)

OmegaCity Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Strap in, folks.  We’re clearly in adventure mode now.  I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed a significant uptick in the number of books described using Goonies as a reference.  They called the Little, Brown & Co. book If You Find This by Matthew Baker as “Goonies meets Holes“.  Now Harper Collins is calling Omega CityGoonies meets City of Ember“.  After a girl’s father loses his job she follows clues left by a diary and finds an underground bunker.  It’s first in a three book series and promises action.  Just so long as it doesn’t reference Omega Man in any way (it’s the title that made me think of it) we’re cool.

The Arctic Code by Matthew J. Kirby (978006224873)

ArcticCode Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

That Matthew Kirby.  He just can’t keep away from ice.  First it was the remarkable Icefall.  Now he has a new three book series set in the near future.  Earth has succumbed to a new Ice Age.  Meanwhile our hero’s mother is in the Arctic doing some kind of work there.  When she disappears after sending a cryptic message, her daughter Eleanor goes to find her.  Apparently the book asks the rather difficult question, if we can’t save everyone on earth, who do we save and why?  Sounds like it would pair well with the Rebecca Stead debut novel First Light.

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, ill. Gris Grimly (9780062293756)

StudyScarlet Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Cool . . . and YA.  Doggone it.  Yes, the wonderful Gris Grimly is back and this time he’s chosen to illustrate the debut of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous hero.  In color no less!  Now when I saw what book it was I admit I was a bit incredulous.  Anyone who has read this knows that there is a LONG section dedicated to a subplot involving Mormons in America.  I asked and yes indeed.  The Mormons made it into this book intact.  Fascinating.

Table 5

Picture Perfect #1: Bending Over Backwards by Cari Simmons (9780062310224)

BendingOver Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Someday an enterprising librarian in a small system will create stickers that say “snark free” or “mean girl free” and put them on certain titles in their collection.  I know that when I was a kid I would have vastly preferred those kinds of books.  Those stickers would actually apply pretty well to this new series by Cari Simmons.  Each story is a standalone but they all have one thing in common: What happens when you realize that you and your longtime best friend are two VERY different people?  They said it was for the Mix / Candy Apple readers.  I say it’s also for the fans of The Kind of Friends We Used to Be and the upcoming Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson.

Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret by D.D. Everest (9780062312112)

ArchieGreene Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Kids, here’s some safe advice.  Should you receive an ancient book for your birthday, just put that sucker down.  You don’t want to know what it’s going to get you into.  In the case of Archie Greene, such a book helps him to discover that he’s a Flame Keeper, charged to find and preserve magical books.  Mind you, occasionally there are books where characters pop out of their pages.  Just consider that one of the hazards of the job.

The Fog Diver by Joel Ross (9780062352934)

FogDiver Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

Adventure! Pirates! Airships! Slum kids who’s made themselves a kind of patched together family.  In the future we live in the sky.  Why?  Because a deadly fog is on the ground, of course.  The worse news?  It’s rising.  For that reason we’re all living on the mountaintops these days.  The wealthy are the uppermost while fog divers scavenge below.  Our heroes must save their guardian and to do so they must go on a journey.  Amongst them is a boy who can survive the fog so, naturally, the bad guy wants him.  This will be the first of two books in the series.

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly (9780062275820)

Keepers Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

And this one will be the first of four books.  I’ve written about this before, actually.  In this book a boy meets a group called “The Keepers” and is given a box that shows the future.  Only thing is, this isn’t a fantasy.  Nope.  It’s a highly developed science fiction title where all the “magical” elements are based on theoretical physics.

Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall (9780062293992)

MarsEvacuees Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

My resident science fiction expert librarian (see: Views from the Tesseract) assures me that this book is excellent.  In it, Earth is at war with aliens so the kids are evacuating to Mars.  Our heroine arrives there and next thing you know all the adults have disappeared.  So the kids, the robots, and an alien (!) team up.  They described this one as Pixar-esque with plenty of humor.  And the name of the sequel?  Space Hostages.  Awesome.

And that’s that!  All that remains is to look at the . . .

Best Meets

You know, sometimes in my quieter moments I look back and think about my favorite bizarre “meets” overheard at a preview.  It didn’t even use the word “meets”, but the implication was clear.  The name of the book has long since faded from my mind but the description . . . ah, the description is forever.  “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon . . . on MARS!”  Still the best.  In the meantime, these are pretty good too:

“The Monkey’s Paw meets E. Lockhardt meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” – The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman

“X-Men meets Game of Thrones” – The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

share save 171 16 Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015)

9 Comments on Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2015), last added: 12/20/2014
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18. We Need Diverse Comic Books: Meet Mafalda

My husband’s best friend returned to us the other day from his vacation in South America bearing gifts.  Amongst them was a t-shirt for my daughter featuring this cartoon tyke:

Mafalda1 500x357 We Need Diverse Comic Books: Meet Mafalda

Know her?  If you’re American the answer is probably no.  But if you were Argentinian you’d instantly recognize her as Mafalda.  She was Argentina’s answer to Charlie Brown from 1964 to 1973 and is basically recognized all over the world . . . with the exception of the U.S.

She gets me to thining.  When we talk about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign we need to look beyond standard fictional fare.  We need to look at easy books, early chapter books, nonfiction, poetry, fairytales and folk tales, and, yes, graphic novels.  And of all the comics published specifically for the young reader market in 2014 that were marketed to libraries, only one had anything even faintly resembling Latino content (Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper, ill. Raul the Third).

None of this is to say that if Mafalda were translated for the American market she wouldn’t appear with an adult publisher like Dark Horse.  Like the aforementioned Charlie Brown she had some pretty advanced jokes.  No, for me Mafalda is just proof positive that when we’re looking for diverse characters, we shouldn’t forget about the ones published internationally.  Our scope is so limited here in the States.  If there is any unexpected offshoot of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, I hope it’s that we are able as consumers and publishers to expand our focus and look into those characters and creations from countries outside of our own. Mafalda is just the tip of the iceberg.

A couple of her comic strips to amuse you today:

Mafalda3 500x144 We Need Diverse Comic Books: Meet Mafalda

Maflada2 500x144 We Need Diverse Comic Books: Meet Mafalda

Mafalda4 500x292 We Need Diverse Comic Books: Meet Mafalda

And a fun piece on her unexpected origins.

share save 171 16 We Need Diverse Comic Books: Meet Mafalda

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19. Webcomic alert: What it’s like for an incarcerated teen on Rikers Island

22 thebox abridged 2 Webcomic alert: What its like for an incarcerated teen on Rikers Island

The federal government is suing NYC over the treatment of teen-aged inmates at the legendary—and not in a good way— Riker’s Island detention facility.

The federal government plans to file a lawsuit against New York City alleging “widespread civil rights violations” against teen inmates at Rikers Island. The suit comes on the heels of a blistering report conducted by U.S. district attorney Preet Bharara that was released this summer and detailed shocking abuses of adolescent Rikers prisoners, including beatings, verbal abuse, and excessive use of solitary confinement.

If you’re wondering why, here’s a comic book that explains how teens—many of them mentally ill—are put in “the box” for minor infractions.

The comic was reported by Daffodil Altan and Trey Bundy, and illustrated and designed by Anna Vignet, based on conversation with “Izzy” now grown and a case manager for people coming out of Riker’s.

26 27 thebox abridged 0 v22 Webcomic alert: What its like for an incarcerated teen on Rikers Island

1 Comments on Webcomic alert: What it’s like for an incarcerated teen on Rikers Island, last added: 12/20/2014
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20. A Merry Merry Dr. Seuss Display

One of my childhood dreams came true this year. I designed and created a window display!

Yes, I am a child of the 80’s and it’s possible I watched the film Mannequin one too many times. But when I was little, I wanted to grow up and be a window dresser. My local independent bookstore — Vroman’s Bookstore — made that dream come true. They asked me to create a Dr. Seuss holiday window and of course, I accepted!

As we drink egg nog and celebrate with our families, I thought I’d share a few images of the window’s creation. Here are my adventures with foam core and paint.

I sketched out the Grinch.

Dr. Seuss Window Display

I painted all the Whos playing with their toys.

Dr Seuss Window Display 2

Dr Seuss Window Display 3

Russell helped me install the window. He’s very tall, which made stringing up the elements with fishing line nice and easy.

Dr Seuss Window Display 4

The display is based on this illustration in Seuss’s classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Grinch Image

And here is my interpretation of it.

SAMSUNG

Dr Seuss Window Display 1

The Grinch isn’t in the original illustration, but I had to add him in!

SAMSUNG

And, voila! A small girl’s dream of creating a window display comes to life!

Window Display 10

May all your dreams come true this holiday and New Year. Be Merry Merry everyone!


4 Comments on A Merry Merry Dr. Seuss Display, last added: 12/22/2014
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21. Spider-Woman Gets New “clothes to kick ass in”

635544611181339292 SpiderWoman cover Spider Woman Gets New clothes to kick ass in

By: Alexander Jones

Designer Kris Anka has just crafted some new threads for Jessica Drew A.K.A. Spider-Woman, a woman in need of a super-makeover. Anka has been pulled into reinvent some classic costumes with great results, including Storm’s newish outfit during Marvel NOW! that stuck around only because it was really fantastic. Anka’s new design for Drew will first debut in the Spider-Man Unlimited mobile game, then in March it will spin into the Spider-Woman ongoing title by Dennis Hopeless that spun it’s first web straight from the Spider-Verse.

The new outfit features a jacket, that is almost reminiscent of the new Batgirl outfit, with a couple more refinements in color scheme. The webbed tail surrounding the edges of the sleeves in particular is a great callback to past Spider-Man outfits, as are many of the other little details in the costume itself.

Brian Truitt debuted the news on USA Today, and shared this quote from Spider-Woman editor Nick Lowe:

“they’re clothes to kick ass in.”

635544606069587059 Spider Woman compare Spider Woman Gets New clothes to kick ass in

Another interesting new feature are the gloves that sport the same black and red design from the rest of the outfit. It’s also great to see Marvel combatting some of the bad press they have seen with the Milo Manara variant cover with an outfit that seems more conservative in nature, especially when factoring in the preliminary sketches. It’s also simply enjoyable to see the same old Jessica Drew leaving 1977, she’s not a character that gets a costume design update once a year.

635544608591237491 SpiderWoman profile Spider Woman Gets New clothes to kick ass in

 

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22. Capcom Fighting Tribute book seeks submissions…unpaid submissions

content image up Capcom Fighting Tribute book seeks submissions...unpaid submissions
Video game giant Capcom is putting out a tribute book of art, called Capcom Fighting Tribute. And it’s open to artists fan and pro:

This collection will offer a chance for hundreds of professional and fan artists to show off their artistic skills and pay homage to their favorite characters, settings and moments from the fighting games of Capcom!

All styles of art are welcome – digital painting, traditional media, anime, cartoon, pixel-based, even sculptures – whatever best expresses the artist’s love for this timeless collection of beloved video game franchises.

Properties included in the project are Street Fighter™, Darkstalkers™, Rival Schools™, Red Earth™, Star Gladiator, Power Stone™, Cyberbots, Capcom Fighting Evolution™, Puzzle Fighter™, Pocket Fighter™, Final Fight™, Battle Circuit, Captain Commando, Armored Warriors, Knights of the Round, The King of Dragons, Avengers (Hissatsu no Buraiken), and Capcom original characters Ruby Heart, Son-Son, and Amingo!


Sounds cool right? Sort of. BUT on the submissions rules, it states:

There is no payment to artists for artwork used in the Capcom Fighting Tribute book. All selected artwork becomes the property of Capcom.


Accepted artists can however makes up to 200 prints of their piece and sell those, I suppose. But this is yet another example of the “no pay” model that seems to be getting more and more normal.
Artist Reilly Brown noticed this and sounded off on his Deviant Art page:

I’m a professional, I get treated like a professional, paid like a professional or I don’t do the job.
All this really is is an attempt to get free content (that they will own forever) for a high-priced product.
I know what you’re thinking– “but I love Capcom games!  Even though I’m a professional working on another property, I want to draw a Capcom character too!”
Well shit, bro, I love Capcom too, and I’ll tell you, nothing’s stopping me from drawing those characters all damn day if I wanted to.  But I’m not going to give those drawings– that time and labor– to a company who plans on making money off of them FOR FREE.  Until I give them that art, I still own that art and can do whatever I wish with it, or at least whatever I’m able to with characters that I don’t own the trademark for, such as put it on my website, which the rules for this “contest” bans.


A lot of us are so numb to the plethora of free content on the web that this seems almost normal—is this any different than what you see on Tumblr every day? but remember, Capcom is a PROFESSIONAL company and charge money for their games. I know that if they actually PAID for all the submissions the book would probably be too expensive to even put out, but…is that really where we are these days?

The continuing devaluation of art is going to be one of the big stories of 2015 and beyond. I’m not sure what the solution is, but as Brown suggests, artists should “have more respect for your profession.”

8 Comments on Capcom Fighting Tribute book seeks submissions…unpaid submissions, last added: 12/22/2014
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23. Captain America’s Shield and Joe Quesada show up on the Stephen Colbert farewell

colbert social 625x326 Captain Americas Shield and Joe Quesada show up on the Stephen Colbert farewell

There were few dry eyes across America as Stephen Colbert wrapped up his nine year run on The Colbert Report—and staying in character, instead of breaking the wall and getting sentimental, he went gonzo fantasy, defeating Grimmy, his long time nemesis, or Death himself, and gaining immortality. Immortality has perks, such as assembling a zeitgeist all-stat lineup of pals from Bryan Cranston to George Lucas to Cyndi Lauper and James Franco who came out to sing the closing song from Dr Strangelove, “We’ll Meet Again. ” Although it was hard to spot all the celebs in the chorus, among them was two-time guests, Marvel CCO Joe Quesada:


As I watched the show, I wondered what would become of the Captain America shield prominently displayed behind Colbert. It’s been a fixture of the Colbert set since it was given to him in 2007 after Captain America died in a storyline, and Colbert was deemed worthy to carry it. The actual shield is one that was owned by late Marvel editor Mark Gruenwald, and held a lot of residual mojo for Marvel fans. To my surprise, it made a starring role in the finale of the show, as Colbert wonders what t do with his new found immortality, and is whisked off to Valinor* in a sleigh with Santa, Abraham Lincoln and Alex Trebek.

You could actually see some dents in the shield on the close-ups—it’s a real life horcrux, and I hope it goes to some dignified resting place.

Colbert had a bunch of comics folks on his Report over the years—The Late Show is a bigger venue, but I have a feeling he’ll sneak in a few nerd icons along the way.

* Since Colbert is such a Tolkien scholar, you KNOW it was Valinor! In real life, however, Valinor is CBS, where Colbert will take over The Late Show in May, 2015.

Screen cap via KEvin Melrose

1 Comments on Captain America’s Shield and Joe Quesada show up on the Stephen Colbert farewell, last added: 12/20/2014
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24. Gotham Greets the Justice League

JLeagueLogoColor 143x150 Gotham Greets the Justice LeagueOn Friday New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio met with protestors to discuss their demands for police reform after the shocking death of Eric Garner and the controversial grand jury decision that followed. The name of the activists’ organization will sound familiar to any comics fan: Justice League NYC.

That this prominent group of social justice warriors would share a name with DC Entertainment’s leading super-team is no coincidence. Just check out the group’s logo, which features two African-American superheroes flying out of New York City through a graffiti-style logo. Dig even deeper into contemporary activism’s history and we see even more connections: Ferguson protestors formed their own Justice League over the summer, a leading progressive journalist writes at JusticeLeagueTaskForce.wordpress.com, and as pretty much everyone here knows, the Occupy movement made the V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes’ mask a global icon.

The role of comics in recent protests will no doubt be the subject of any number of academic papers, most of which will bear a punny coloned title like “DC Nation: From Social Relevance Comics to Social Change.” Yet before folks explore what all this means at greater length, I want to offer a quick note on how this phenomenon ties into comics’ uneasy relationship with the law.

Before Photoshop and Final Cut made it possible for anyone to transcend their innate limitations, comics offered a cheap and easy way for people to give a visible form to their wildest thoughts. They became pop culture’s analogue to law as the magic mirror of society — photos may have showed us how the other half lives, but in comics we could create the world of tomorrow, free from the strictures of budget, politics, injury, death, and the real world’s ineffective legal system. What’s more, comics also did away with the shadows and fog that even today make inquiries such as the Serial podcast so frustrating — in the comics world we know who is good, who is evil, and who will win; the big question is how good will triumph.

That sensibility is in comics’ DNA, to both good and ill effect. An unreflective transfer of the comics’ approach to seemingly intractable problems would at its most extreme result in moral nihilism, as violence becomes the standard means of removing any obstacle to achieving what is right. At the same time, the comics’ metaphorical blend of constructive critique and unbounded possibility helps explain why the social relevance comics of the 1970s weren’t as much of a break from the past as some might think. We can draw a straight line back from the O’Neil & Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow through to the Justice League, Shock SuspenStories, Captain America and Wonder Woman — and the same is true moving forward in time to today. Comics have always had the power to show us who we are and what we can be, and they are at their best when they resemble the magic mirror as ideally envisioned by Oliver Wendell Holmes – reflecting not just our own lives, but the lives of all people who have been.

2 Comments on Gotham Greets the Justice League, last added: 12/22/2014
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25. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Meilo So


“Blown by the wind, / water sails high. / Tumbling cloud plumes curl through the air. /
Soplada por el viento, / el agua se remonta. / Volutas nebulosas ruedan por el aire.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about some holiday picture books titles, what I think are some of the best of the season. It’s a Christmas miracle: LeUyen Pham has made me like “The Twelve Days of Christmas” again. That link will be here soon.

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Last week, I wrote here about Pat Mora’s Water Rolls, Water Rises (Lee & Low, October 2014), illustrated by Meilo So. Today, I share some spreads from it.

Enjoy.


“Water rolls / onto the shore / under the sun, under the moon. /
El agua rueda / hacia la orilla / bajo el sol, bajo la luna.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“In the murmur of marsh wind, / water slumbers on moss, / whispers soft songs far under frog feet. / En el viento susurrante de los pantanos, / el agua duerme sobre el musgo, / murmura suaves canciones bajo patitas de ranas.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 


“Water burbles in springs, / gurgles and turns / down streams and rivers seeking the sea. / El agua burbujea en los manantiales, / borbotea y desciende /
por los arroyos y ríos buscando el mar.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 



 

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WATER ROLLS, WATER RISES. Copyright © 2014 by Pat Mora. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Meilo So. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books, New York.

3 Comments on What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Meilo So, last added: 12/21/2014
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