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901. LLsCreations83's Shop Announcement

 Doctor Who amigurumi, plush, and soft toy SET

Prepping for conventions! Amigurumi make take longer than the listed time frame and will be processed in the order they are received ^_^ In the meantime, visit www.Phillipscomiccon.com!

PLEASE visit my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/LadyLindsaysCreation to stay updated. You can message me about possible projects and current orders either here on Etsy, on my Facebook page, or at my e-mail: LindsaysCreation@ gmail.com!

All of my dolls are mailed via USPS First Class Mail with delivery confirmation. All orders will be shipped within 1 - 2 business weeks from order (business days are M-F), depending upon the availability of the doll(s).

International Buyers:
USPS First Class International seems to be the most cost effective way to ship overseas, but shipping time varies by country. Priority Mail International is much more expensive, and shipping time averages about 6-10 days. Message me for more information on shipping upgrades if interested.


Follow me on twitter: www.twitter.com/LadyLindsay

Become a fan of my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LadyLindsaysCreation

Follow my Instagram: @ladylindsay83

Or e-mail: Lindsayscreation [!at] gmail.com 


Gotham City amigurumi SET! Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing

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902. Harold Speed, Chapter 2, "Drawing"

John Elliott Burns by Harold Speed, 1907

Today we continue with the GJ Book Club. Together, we're studying Harold Speed's classic The Practice and Science of Drawing.

The following numbered paragraphs cite key points in italics, followed by a brief remark of my own. Your thoughts are most welcome in the comment section of this blog. If you would like to respond to a specific point, please precede your comment by the corresponding number.

1. The expression of form upon a plane surface.

Speed's definition of drawing emphasizes form. That is consistent with most academic training. For the purposes of this chapter at least, he is not focusing on other qualities of drawing, such as the ability to capture texture or atmosphere.

2. Apelles

Apelles was a renowned artist of ancient Greece. His actual original paintings and drawings are lost to history (except for supposed copies), but he is known from his reputation in written sources. More on Wikipedia.

3. Drawing, although the first, is also the last thing the painter usually studies.

Many great artists such as Rembrandt kept drawing central to their practice throughout their lives. Some, such as Adolph Menzel, pursued drawing relentlessly into their old age. For composers like Beethoven and Bach, keyboard or chamber music occupied a similar place. 

4. Colour would seem to depend much more on a natural sense and to be less amenable to teaching. 

As an author of a book about color, I have to disagree with him here. There's a lot to teach about color, especially given what we've learned since Speed's time about visual perception and optics. Even though color can be approached subjectively and personally, the aesthetic aspects of color can be taught. In fact, Speed himself must have changed his mind on this topic, because he includes two excellent chapters on color in his subsequent book on oil painting (Oil Painting Techniques and Materials), which we'll study after we get through this one.

5. To express form one must first be moved by it. There is in the appearance of all objects, animate and inanimate, what has been called an emotional significance, a hidden rhythm that is not caught by the accurate, painstaking, but cold artist. 

Speed's definition of rhythm recognizes how emotion drives artistic choices. Rhythm therefore is not merely a design principle.

Charles F. A. Voysey 
by Harold Speed, chalk, 1896

6. Selection of the significant and suppression of the non-essential.

These choices, so central to a successful work, usually happen unconsciously, driven by the emotion the artist feels at the outset. The challenge is hanging onto that guiding feeling in the labor of making the picture.

7. Fine things seem only to be seen in flashes.

In my experience, I find this to be true not only of the process of drawing, but in my creative life more generally. In the fields of character development, scriptwriting, and world-building, the deeper inspirations come unexpectedly in torrents, separated by periods of steady craftsmanship.

8. Art thus enables us to experience life at second hand.

Through great art, we see the world in a more meaningful or enhanced way. After a visit to the picture galleries, our senses are heightened. This effect is even stronger to a student who makes a faithful copy of a master painting or drawing.

9. One is always profoundly impressed by the expression of a sense of bulk, vastness, or mass in form. 

Later he talks about lightness. It's always good to think about gravity when drawing. Muscles are always pulling against gravity. Wings struggle to lift a bird through the air against the pull of the earth. Drawing someone off-balance generates interest, but balance and imbalance are factors of gravity.

10. In these school studies feeling need not be considered, but only a cold accuracy....These academic drawings, too, should be as highly finished as hard application can make them, so that the habit of minute visual expression may be acquired.

In the French schools at least, there were different aesthetic criteria applied to studies from the model. Student studies were expected to be as accurate and finished as possible, and more interpretive works, which allowed for much more distortion and interpretation. A lot of schools in recent decades, needing to cover a lot of ground, tend to skip over the exacting practice of these coldly accurate school studies. It is like playing scales for the musician, or knowing the rules of grammar for the writer, as Carol Berning mentioned in the comments last time.

11. Drawing, then, to be worthy of the name, must be more than what is called accurate.
Harold Speed (Dover ed.)
This point was illustrated by Sargent's portrait of Carolus-Duran in a recent blog post. Speed concludes that "Artistic accuracy demands that things be observed by a sentient individual recording the sensations produced in him by the phenomena of life." Art, then, becomes life filtered through a consciousness. This is a very idealistic view of drawing, and it sets up for next week's Chapter 3: "Vision"

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903. Instructional Audios

Note: Today is Day 8 of the Blogging A to Z Challenge – The Letter “I” is the focus of today’s post.

Do you want to write for children but don’t know how to get started?


Take the first step and listen to some of our instructional audios.

Just click here to see our list of current offerings:

Instructional Audios – Writers Workshops

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904. 5 Tips To Challenge Yourself

When you're free or on vacation, there is plenty of lazy hours which means: a lot of drawing time. I love that. It gives me the opportunity to take the time to do elaborate drawings, but also to study. Trying out new techniques for example, or focusing on drawing things that may seem daunting to draw. You don't need a vacation for that though - you can balance a busy life with drawing and learning new things.

Here are 5 Tips To Challenge Yourself

1. Pick a subject that moves all the time.
It may seem too hard to draw. Like waving tree branches or water.
20150212 water
You can dread it, or you can just go for it. It's better to make a mediocre drawing than no drawing at all.
During the process, you're learning. Study your subject really well. Take notes. Don't give up, you can do it.
2. Pick a subject that's alive.
20150211 cats
When drawing animals for example, they won't sit still and model for you. You never know when they will start moving or reposition.
This will train you to work fast and to study their proportions.
3. No peeking and no cheating.
20150208 contourdrawing3
Pick a subject. Take a minute. Don't look at your paper - and draw. It helps if you don't lift your pen off the paper, to keep track of where you are on the paper.
You could be surprised by the results, and even colour your quick blind drawing.
AAJ Logo ws
4. Get going and keep going.
Whether you're lazy or crazy busy - there's always room to study and learn.
And if you're crazy busy and lazy - you could use an extra kick-in-the butt. Well, guess what? On April 6, the 4-week workshop Awesome Art Journaling started. It gives you just that extra push that you need.
For more info and to enroll in Awesome Art Journaling click here.
sbs drip full
5. No Excuses To Learn New Things.
Finally it's here! you can to sign up for the brand new 6-week klass in Sketchbook Skool, themed 'Stretching'! It starts April 17. Be ready to be surprised, refreshed and inspired. Find more info and sign-up by clicking here.

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905. Storifying my guest appearance on #UKMGchat: All About Dual Narratives

<<<PREVIOUS: HOW WE LIVE NOW By Candy Gourlay On 9 April, I guested on the vociferous #UKMGchat, a twitter chat group devoted to middle grade in the United Kingdom. Here's a recap of our night of tweeting (you might have to wait for the embedded tweet images to show up):DO CHECK OUT MY PRE-#UKMGchat BLOG POST ON DUAL NARRATIVES Tonight @candygourlay will be talking about DUAL NARRATIVE for #

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906. Rejection

Question: Should one reply/respond to a rejection notice from an editor or from a workshop such as Clarion or Odessey? If so, what do you suggest? Answer:

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907. The evolution of Shakespeare into a cat

The evolution of Shakespeare into a cat. I'm not sure why this is important, but I felt compelled to finish drawing it out. I think Ben Johnson had a closer relationship with his cat. I read that he had a servant to keep it's bowl stocked with fresh vittles.

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908. Poetry Friday: Try by Jillian Edwards

If you were a melody
I'd sing you all the time
And if your hands were poetry
I'd memorize every line
And if every look you gave me were
A different hue or shade of color
I'd learn how to paint you
You know I'd try

And if you were words in a story
You'd be in a book that's overdue
That's somewhere hidden in my closet
Looked a million times for you
And if you were just one day
You'd be the very first of May
And I'd be sunlight in your skies
Or at least I'd try

- selected lyrics from Try by Jillian Edwards

If you can't see the media player embedded above, click here to listen to the song.

Last week, I posted lyrics from Jillian's song Room.

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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909. Ant-Man Movie...and Yellow Jacket, Of Course!

kThis from Entertainment Weekly is interesting but Hank Pym was Ant-man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellow-Jacket and Scott Lang later became Ant-Man  so can someone please tell me WTF is Darren Cross?


Corey Stoll and Paul Rudd in Ant-Man (Disney)
STARRING Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas

They say a film is only as good as its villain, but maybe they should change that to a villain and his suit. In Marvel’s Ant-Man, Paul Rudd plays jailbird-turned-superhero Scott Lang, who has the power to shrink himself and control his six-legged namesakes, thanks to gear designed by inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). But Lang’s armor is positively pacifist compared with the more advanced suit worn by the nefarious Darren Cross, a.k.a. Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll). “Hank Pym’s Ant-Man suit doesn’t have a single weapon,” says director Peyton Reed (Yes Man), “whereas Yellowjacket is armed with plasma cannons.”

That would make the first big showdown between the foes, pictured here, a decided mismatch, right? Maybe not. “Ant-Man is very fast when he’s small,” he says. “Also, when he shrinks, he increases his density, so he’s got increased strength.” (Not to mention that ant-whispering power, which plays a crucial role in Lang’s attempt to steal Yellowjacket’s garb.)

To film this encounter, the costars wore motion-capture suits and were shot separately. “It was a new experience as far as the motion-capture-suit-ness of it,” says Rudd, who is better known on screen for cracking wise than cracking heads. “But none of it feels that different. Every part, I’m pretending to be somebody I’m not. It’s all just a big lie!”

 Speaking of untruths, Reed insists Internet reports that he recently reshot some of the film are just that. “I love turning on the computer in the morning and reading the things that I did the day before—that I didn’t do!” he says. “We are going to do a little bit of additional photography, but we have not done any yet. It’s minor stuff.” To sum up: Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. Or an anthill.

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910. The team behind The Lego Movie joins The Flash feature film


In a report that hit last night via The Wrap, it looks as though the much in demand team behind The Lego Movie and the 21 Jump Street film franchise may have finally landed on a new tent-pole project.

According to their sources, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who are one of the hottest tickets in Hollywood right now, have signed on to write a treatment for Warner Bros’ The Flash. While they haven’t agreed to direct yet, their current task is to “flesh out the story” before making any further commitment.

Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) is currently set to star as the title character, though whether this will be another iteration of Barry Allen (as seen on the CW series The Flash) or perhaps Wally West is unknown at this time. Miller is expected to make his debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Lord and Miller, were they to sign on to direct the film, would join a line-up of filmmakers that includes Zack Snyder (who will direct Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and both Justice League films), David Ayer (Suicide Squad) and Michelle MacLaren (Wonder Woman). Additionally, rumored names like James Wan (for Shazam), Jeff Nichols, and Noam Murro (both have been connected to Aquaman) continue to make the rounds.

Lord and Miller are represented by UTA.

The Flash is expected to be released in 2018.

Update: And now Warner Bros is looking at James Wan for Aquaman.

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911. ny vertigo

At the request of the April birthday girl, our family jaunted briefly to New York City this week.  She had visited with her 8th grade class and wanted to return to MOMA, and we also found our way to the newly-reopened Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.  Other stops in our thoroughly mid- and upper-Manhattan stay included the Magnet Theater for an improvisational comedy show, Zabar's and two of the six apartments I lived in between 1986 and 1991.

Everything is different but the same, and the feeling I had stepping off the bus was different but exactly the same.  Here's a poem I wrote in 1986 and revised for a workshop with Daisy's class in 2012 (they wrote poetry in response to their NYC trip too).  Now I find it's time for a BIG revision--time for a companion poem, or should it be contrast or competitor poem?  This second version is rough, but I wonder if I've captured my dizzyingly changed perspective...

New York Vertigo, 1986

What I am I’m huge I’m high.
Arrive in Red Hook subdeep July
  I alight. afire and mighty
  queen of the borough.

Arrive and then descend.
I go vertical.  I dive.
  upside under bricks and bridges.
Submarining blind.
Where periscope disturbed. ascending
   to this island state.  a nation
   of buildings crushing up and looming.
I’m flattened.  I’m pinioned
   to Manhattan’s curbed & canyoned floor.
Who ballooned deflated.
   barely standing five feet high.  I
   glimpse sky between scaffolds.
This vertigo is not from heights
   Brooklyn. or otherwise

--HM 1986/2012
all rights reserved 
New York Vertigo, 2015

What I am I’m slow. I’m older.
Arrive Manhattan subSpring, undry
  I alight. unchill and stilling--
  queen of Disurbia.

Arrive and then revolve.
I stay horizontal, spin.
  upside inside stoops and scaffolds
Telescoping time.
Where memory destroyed. pretending:
   I can still belong.   formation
   of people crushing up and blooming.
I mattered,  additioned
   to this island’s vast and varied more.
Who defined belated.
   carefully standing eight feet deep, I
   glimpse me between marriage.
This vertigo is not from heights
   Empire, or otherwise

 --HM 2015
all rights reserved 

One of the things that it's EASY to remember about living in New York is what I was wearing--what I shopped for, what I could barely afford and saved for, what I could barely afford and bought anyway, what I felt totally cool in and what I wished I hadn't worn. (Sidebar:  it was NOT spring in NYC this week and I knew that and still ended up wearing not quite the right thing despite my detailed strategic planning.  Sigh.)  I'll be exploring some of these sartorial considerations in my guest post over at Author Amok on Monday, where Laura Shovan is asking "What Are You Wearing to National Poetry Month?"  Don't miss this series of posts on clothing-related poems!

The round-up today is another NPM celebration with Laura Purdie Salas as our host--connect with many poems at Writing the World for Kids!

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913. Summer Reading


Creative Common search.


It is time for school librarians to dust off their summer reading lists and refresh them.  I know that the public librarians are wondering how we can possibly just start thinking about summer reading now, but in the school things are a bit different.  We tend to release the students to you all to fulfill their summer reading duties!

Since the majority of librarians at my school came from the public systems, we are hyper sensitive to the look and feel of our summer lists.  We remember keenly the super long, out-of-print, completely off grade level lists that we had handed to us.  So we make sure not to contribute to that problem.

My own lists are updated every year with award winners, books that will give students a running start in terms of curriculum, books that provide both mirror and window opportunities as well as some personal favorites.  I don’t reinvent the wheel every year, but instead add about 30-40% new titles each year.

In the past I reformatted the lists to read “Lower Elementary” (grades 1 and 2) and “Upper Elementary” (grades 3 and 4). While I enjoyed the fluidity, the parents were much more comfortable with set grades.  So there is quite a bit of overlap in titles between the grades. And that is ok.

This year, I am thinking of embedding some book trailers into the lists as well to freshen them up even more.

What do you do to your reading lists to keep them fresh?

The post Summer Reading appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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914. Perhaps We Need Chinese Business Entrepreneurs To Step Up?

I have emails and letters going back to the 20th Century.  No, really -I am THAT old.  Anyway, I wanted to check on a number of things and stumbled upon all the emails between myself and European publishers pertaining to the Bristol Comic Expo.

2002 was the earliest year I went all out trying to get European publishers to the UK and I have emails from Casterman, Delcourt and a couple others who tried -after the Expo fell under new ownership- to book tables and get a presence there.  They received no replies. 

Mind you, I received no replies and I live in the same feckin city!

I recall that, under Mike Allwood, the Expo was interested when Koream Manhwa publishers wanted space at the Expo and that was after very intensive work and persuasion by myself.

What happened?  Well, Korea is a very complicated country (I'm talking South Korea here) and a committee agreed that it was a good idea after long, long discussion. "YAY!" I screamed.  But, apparently, another committee needed to then discuss that decision. If they agreed there would be need for another committee to discuss the finances to be spent.  Another to decide who should represent Korean Manhwa. Then a committee needed to....you get my point here?

Two years and there was still no decision but what was to stop a publisher just bringing their goods?  ooooh, no. Must be approved.

India I talked to Raj, Diamond and others including (I'm not spitting, honest) Virgin Comics. Absolutely no interest what-so-ever and why break into a new market?  Three more years wasted.

China. Now, China, if any country in the world with a publishing industry that produces such great books could see the potential it would be China.   Sadly, by that time the Expo was dead. 

I'd still like to see Bristol -a big City with a strong "cross-cultural" history- put money into backing a big Manhua exhibition.  Local interest not to mention tourism attracted to such an event would surely make it worthwhile...unless...no. No politics.

Once China discovers its Manhua potential there'll be no stopping it -Manga will pale in comparison.

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915. The Annotated "Saving the Planet & Stuff" Part Five: Eco-humor

Part of Michael's job as office peon at the editorial offices of The Earth's Wife is to screen in-coming e-mails, which is how he stumbles upon a plot involving a major manufacturer and insulation. But he has to read a few e-mails before he gets to that point. Both the e-mails in this post illustrate humor that comes from the disconnect that occurs when two unrelated ideas/events come together.

The following e-mail was funny at the time because when Saving the Planet & Stuff first appeared in 2003 fiction about the environment wasn't common. The term climate fiction was still a few years away. Nature writing tended to be Thoreau-type essays. Journalists covered the environment. So the idea of eco-fiction was funny because it didn't exist.

Now eco-fiction is a term that is used and discussed, so the idea of eco-fiction is no longer funny. The humor in this first e-mail now relies pretty much on comparing eco-fiction to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Dear Earths' Wife,
Kudos on another wonderful issue!
One suggestion—Have you ever considered doing a fiction issue? No one is publishing eco-fiction right now. I don't know why. You could do a special issue once a year on ecologically themed literature the way Sports Illustrated does a special issue once a year on women's swimsuits. Look how much people look forward to that!
This next e-mail illustrates why hypocrisy can be funny.  Totally clueless characters who say one thing but do another can often be mined for laughs because they are providing that disconnect between two unrelated ideas/concepts.

To the Editor:
I very much enjoyed last month's article on the pollution caused by vehicles using drive-up windows at fastfood restaurants and banks. You only have to sit in a line of cars waiting ten minutes or more for a couple of burgers and a shake, as I have done many times, to realize our atmosphere is being poisoned. Last week I used drive-up windows at a bank twice and a drugstore once. Isn't it awful that you can get your prescriptions at drive-up windows now? It ought to be a crime, all those cars sitting there with their engines running. I counted eight the last time I was at Burger King. I wouldn't have used the drive-up that day, myself, but it looked as if there was no place to sit inside anyway.
Additionally, drive-up windows are a particular environmental complaint of mine. Why does no one do a study on the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere because tens of thousands of people can't get out of their cars to buy a Big Mac? I can't be the only person who wonders about that. Can I?

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916. Lorrie Thomson's Cozy Reading Corner (or her husband's)

During the summer, my husband, Bill, loves to read while floating in our pool, but I’ve always been too worried. What if a precious page gets wet? Worse, what if the entire book slips from my hands? I think I’ve found a solution!

Nearing the end of What’s Left Behind, Abby Stone journeys through swamplands and darkness to Seawall Beach, a pristine stretch of Maine coast with glowing white sands and raging surf, and a virtual hill she’s yet to summit. There, she dares to finally let loose and face her greatest fear.

Nothing’s cozier than reading that scene while relaxing on Maine’s Seawall Beach in July. (Pictured: author’s husband, Bill.)

--Lorrie Thomson
Learn more about Lorrie on her Website. Connect with Lorrie on Facebook and Twitter.

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917. The 2015 Hugo Awards: Why I Am Voting No Award in the Best Fan Writer Category

It's been six days since this year's Hugo nominations were announced, and in fandom time that feels like an eternity.  As dispiriting as the nominations themselves were, the response to them has been gratifying--the consensus that the Sad and Rabid Puppies crossed a line in promoting a single slate of nominees has been swiftly reached (including in mainstream venues like Salon, Slate, and The

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918. Top Secret Files of History: Spies, Secret Missions & Hidden Facts from World War I by Stephanie Bearce

In October 2014, I reviewed a book called Top Secret Files of History: Spies, Secret Missions, & Hidden Facts from World War II.  It is such an interesting book, and I discovered all kinds of new information about the hidden workings and wartime secrets that helped end the war.   Now, the author, Stephanie Bearce has followed it up with a similar book about World War I.

Bearce has once again culled little known information about WWI and combined it with more well-known details and events in a book that will fascinate young readers.  For instance, they will read about the secret society, the Black Hand, formed by the Serbian Army for the purpose of freeing Serbia from being ruled by Austria-Hungary, which led to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife and the start of WWI.

And then, in the section on Spies, there is the prospector/mining engineer Howard Burnham, who had lost part of his leg before the war in an accident.  Working for the Allies, Harry traveled into German territory to do learn enemy troop positions.  Howard has a photographic mind and didn't need to put anything on paper.  In addition, he cleverly hid his surveying tools in his prosthetic leg and no one was ever the wiser.  Readers will also read about brave women like Nurse Edith Cavell and Nurse Marthe Cnockaert, whose professions helped them spy for the Allies.  After the war, Cnockaert went on to write spy novels.

One of my favorite stories in the Special Missions section are the dazzle ships.  Radar was unknown in WWI, and the Germans had developed their submarines or U-boat to such an extent that Allied ships were being successfully torpedoed by them.  A British naval officer named Norman Wilkinson came up with a unique way to confuse the Germans: camouflage the ships by painting the bright geometric patterns so the U-boats couldn't zero in on their position.  See what I mean:

HMS London (1918 Public Domain)
Spies, Secret Missions & Hidden Facts from WWI is chockablock with interesting facts, people and events.  Towards the end of the war, as planes were being used more and more, the French were afraid that Paris would be bombed.  What to do?  Readers will discover the unusual solution the French come up with in this book.  And speaking of airplanes, remember the World War I flying ace, Snoopy and his foe, the Red Barron.  Well, readers will meet the read Red Barron in the section on Secret Forces.

And they will learn about some secret weapons that were used, like carrier pigeons and dogs, and Little Willie, the tank that was able to put an end to trench warfare.  How?  Here's a hint:

The newly invented tank could easily cross over a trench 
Like it companion book, this one is also divided into five sections: Secrets, Spies, Special Missions, Secret Weapons and Secret Forces, each packed with all kinds of interesting information, and within that, readers will find inserts with even more unusual facts.  And at the end of each of the five sections, there are activities and projects for kids to do that corresponds to the topic covered.

A Bibliography of Books and Websites is included for further exploration.  Like Bearce's book on WWII, this volume is also sure to please young history buffs, or anyone else who like a good secret.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Prurock Press

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919. FOODFIC: Lailah - Nikki Kelly


When this story begins, Lailah is not in fact “Lailah” at all. She’s Francesca (Cessie), a vampire slayer, frozen forever at age 17. Fortunately she has the bone structure (and fake I.D.) to pass for 21, allowing her to take jobs at the sort of shady establishments where she is most likely to cross paths with the monsters she hunts. Less fortunate is that, as often as not, these encounters lead to her death. Yes, encounters, plural. And deaths, also plural. Yet Cessie is unfailingly reborn at 17.

And it’s only that immortality, along with the inhuman ability to heal from the non-fatal wounds, which confirms for her she’s in the right line of work, for she has no family to guide her. There is not one consistent person in her life/lives, unless you count Gabriel, who repeatedly visits her dreams.

Of course, when real-life Gabriel actually catches up with Cessie in present-day Wales, everything changes. First, he calls her by her given name! But he tells her nothing else of her original life, instead activating her ability to conjure up memories of her past herself. And the magic potion with which he does this is…lemonade.

He pours it for Lailah – real, fresh lemonade, nothing quite like it. The crisp, bitter flavor [dancing on her] taste buds with a clean, dry finish.

Yes, the author does describe the taste, though she needn’t have. We read the word lemonadeand it immediately triggers sensory reactions in all of us. At the very least, we see the bright yellow (or perhaps pink) liquid, smell the sharp citrus, feel our mouths water and maybe our lips pucker. And most of us can readily conjure up a memory of our own involving this signature drink, just like Lailah, for whom the aroma [fills her] senses and, against [her] wishes, memories [begin] to cascade in.

With one sip, she remembers her past clearly for the first time. She sees that she and Gabriel have not only intersected in dreams, but in past lives. Decades of history between them and here he stands, as untouched by age as she. Now, the secret of youth for Gabriel, the angel of Lailah’s dreams, is that he really is an angel. But for Lailah, the answer is not as clear…

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920. Bryce

Though photographs, of course, entice
And guide books give their ratings,
Too many people pay the price
With yes or no debatings.

So let me offer my advice - 
If you need a vacation,
Though Vegas has the slots and dice,
A better destination

Is Utah, where amazing Bryce
Will leave your senses reeling;
Superlatives will not suffice
To nail what you'll be feeling.

Allow me to be quite concise -
It really is your duty
To visit; Bryce is twice as nice
As any other beauty.

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921. Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Q&A with Rita Williams Garcia by Sue Corbett from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "I am a product of the Great Migration. My grandmother, my mother, and my father all came north from the south. We did not spend a lot of time home-going, but that didn’t stop me from imagining what it would be like." See also Top 10 Historical Fiction for Youth 2015 from Booklist.

New Award for Historical Middle Grade Fiction or Nonfiction from SCBWI. Peek: "A new book award, The Grateful American™ Book Prize, has been established to honor children’s books of fiction and nonfiction that feature the events and the people that shaped the history of the U.S. The Prize was co-founded by author and publisher David Bruce Smith..."

The Troubling Debate of Autism as a Fad by Jessica Mulqueen from Disability in Kidlit. Peek: "The objections to literary critics complaining about autistic characters are obvious. Despite the increase in the number of portrayals, autism is still underrepresented and highly misunderstood. Such remarks are not only misleading, but discriminatory."

2015-2016 Boston Public Library Children's Writer-in-Residency Program from Children's Book Council. Peek: "The Associates of the Boston Public Library is currently accepting applications for the 2015-2016 Children’s Writer-in-Residence fellowship program. The fellowship offers an emerging children’s author a $20,000 stipend and an office at the Boston Public Library to complete his or her work of fiction, nonfiction, dramatic writing, or poetry for young readers."

Capstore Sponsors Residency for Children's Authors and Illustrators by Claire Kirch from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Beginning this summer, Capstone will select one artist annually to participate in a month-long residency at the Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minn. Fellows will be provided with room and board, as well as space in which to work."

How We Talk (Or Don't Talk) About Diversity When We Read With Our Kids by Matt de la Pena from Brightly. Peek: "We’re mixed kids. Half Mexican, half white. Back then you never found 'mixed' dolls, so my mom would opt for the 'Latino' doll, or, more commonly, the white doll. But here she was, staring down at three African American Cabbage Patch Kids." See also The Color of Character from Nikki Grimes.

Writing Humor: The Lighter Side of Writing Is Heavy Stuff by Michael McDonagh from QueryTracker Blog. Peek: "Without an unexpected outcome or high degree of contrast between the situation and the actor’s response, there is no joke."

Interview: Agent Tina Wexler by Lee Wind from I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? Peek: "More stories where the kids babysit or have a job at the DQ or struggle to complete their homework while putting dinner together because both parents (or the remaining parent) work outside the home, overworked, underpaid and put on wonky shifts that aren’t conducive to helping with homework or making a wholesome dinner (or any dinner) at night."

Agent Heather Flaherty of the Bent Agency Defines Voice and Shares Her Wish List from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: " So many famous authors actually wrote anywhere between four and seven books before getting nabbed."

Fallacy: The Primer for Surprise by Ron Estrada from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Story surprises happen not when a reader lacks important information that leads to the correct conclusion about story events, but rather when, through the abundance of misinformation, the reader is forced into wrong conclusions."

Canadian Children's Literature: Damaging to Black People? by Zetta Elliott from Media Diversified. Peek: "In 2011, I began to compile a bibliography on my blog and discovered that since 2000, on average, only three Black-authored books for children were published each year. And, in that time, of the nearly thirty middle grade or young adult novels featuring a Black protagonist, only two depict Black children living in contemporary Canada."

Cynsational Screening Room

Vlog: Austin SCBWI Regional Conference (Day 2) by Ariane Felix from A Writer's Life.

Cynsational Giveaways

The winner of Things I'll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves by Ann Angel (Candlewick, 2015) is Linda in Virginia.

The winners of How to Surprise a Dad by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish (Knopf, 2015) are Becky in Utah, Jane in South Dakota, Rachel in Arizona, Jacqui in Illinois and Vanessa in New Jersey.

This Week at Cynsations
More Personally

Jerri Romine and Paige Britt perform a reader's theater at last week's launch of The Lost Track of Time (Scholastic, 2015).

From Sara's Sweets in Austin!
Talking Craft, Diversity & Genre Hopping with Cynthia Leitich Smith from Joy Preble. Peek: "Choose yourself. Don’t wait for the publisher to promote your book to lead title. Don’t wait for your head to be graced with a crown or your slippers to be buried in laurels. Raise that chin and vow to do this..." Note: Thanks to all who shared this link. I'm honored by your support and enthusiasm.

The Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books cheers Things I'll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves, edited by Ann Angel (Candlewick, 2015): "There are even two fantasies, one by Cynthia Leitich Smith about a guardian angel who has fallen in love with a human boy, and another by Katy Moran that owes much to the story of Bluebeard.... The secrets’ often mature content raises the moral question of whether a thing is secret because it’s shameful or shameful because it’s secret, making this a thought- provoking collection."

Thank you to author-illustrator Shelley Ann Jackson for her first-rate service as assistant regional advisor of the Austin chapter of SCBWI. Most appreciated! Now P.J. Hoover takes over the mantle. Lucky us!

Personal Links

Behold my snapdragons!

Cynsational Events

Cynthia will appear from April 14 to April 17 at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Texas Library Association in Austin.

Join Cynthia from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. May 2 at Saratoga Springs Public Library for a celebration in conjunction with Saratoga Reads! at Saratoga Springs, New York. Note: Cynthia will be presenting Jingle Dancer (2000), Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001) and Indian Shoes (2002)(all published by HarperColllins).

Join Cynthia and representatives from We Need Diverse Books for a panel and (free) writing workshop from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 12 at BookPeople in Austin. Register here.

Join Cynthia at 11 a.m. May 30 in conjunction with the YA Book Club at Cedar Park Public Library in Cedar Park, Texas.

Cynthia will serve as the master class faculty member from June 19 to June 21 May 2 at the VCFA Alumni Mini-Residency in Montpelier, Vermont.

Cynthia will speak from June 25 to June 30 on a We Need Diverse Books panel at the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco.

Cynthia will lead a breakout session on "Diversity in Children's and YA Literature" Aug. 22 at East Texas Book Fest at the Harvey Hall Convention Center in Tyler, Texas.

Cynthia will appear Sept. 19 at the Mansfield, Texas Book Festival.

TLA Con Schedule & Latest News!

See more info & RSVP!

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922. Helping Herbie Hedgehog Virtual Book Tour – Day 6

Today is Day 6 of the 10-day virtual book tour for Helping Herbie Hedghog. Read a guest post from author Melissa Abramovitz at The Writer’s Life eMagazine.


Just click here:

Day 6 – Helping Herbie Hedgehog

The tour continues on Monday.

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923. Persuasion Tactics Part 2

We have introduced the persuasion plot hole and discussed a few ways to repair it. This week, we add a few more options to the writing tool kit.

1. Concede Then Deny: Dick can listen to Jane rattle on and agree with her points, but refute her conclusion. This will frustrate Jane into arguing her points all over again or stating them a different way so that Dick will accept her conclusion. He can either fight the conclusion, agree to disagree, end or derail the conversation.

2. Cut It Off: If it is clear to Dick that he can't win, his best solution is to cut the the conversation short or abruptly change the topic. Jane can use this tactic as a defense if Dick attempts to bludgeon her into agreement.

3. Everyone Does It: This is a teenager's favorite ploy. They drag in people they've never met to support their side of the argument. Everyone is doing it, why can't I? It isn't really illegal if everyone is doing it. You've done it, why can't I? Aunt Sally did it. My friend Ted says he does it all the time. These statements are either true or completely made up. They may be effective or fall flat depending on the audience.

4. Exaggerate It: To effectively tear down Jane's argument, all Dick has to do is get her to exaggerate it. The simpler her logic is, the harder it is to refute. If Dick pushes her into generalizations, he has more ammunition to work with. He can compare apples to oranges. He can derail the conversation by arguing the generalities rather than the specifics.

5. Finish What He Started: Dick wants Jane to do something, so he starts it off then asks her to finish it for him. He can start a chore, a story or a diversion tactic and ask Jane to finish it. It also works if Dick is in the middle of something and forces Jane to do the other thing he wanted out of. He would take care of it if he could, but he's in the middle of something else. Would she be a dear and do it for him? This is a problem if the package he wants delivered contains cocaine.

6. Give Then Take: If Dick does something wonderful and unsolicited for Jane, she will feel like she owes him one. She will be more likely to accede to his next request even is she is resistant. He can play the guilt card, "But I did X for you, why can't you do Y for me?"

7. Go For The Kill: Jane has argued point after point. When she tries to change the subject or deflect the conversation, Dick knows he hit a weak spot. He may not know exactly what her weak spot is, but he was successful in his attempt. Dick can go in for the kill and drive the point home. He can give her some ground and restore equal footing. He can back away, satisfied that he met his objective: he made Jane rethink her position, question something she believed or agreed to something she resisted.

8. Jolly Her Into It: Dick makes a request. Jane says no. Dick teases her. He pushes the boundaries of his request into the realm of stand-up comedy. He amplifies her objections to get her to laugh. She realizes the over-inflated objections are kind of silly and agrees to his request.

9. Leave them Laughing: If Dick needs to get out of an awkward or undesirable conversation, he can derail the situation by telling a joke, making everyone laugh and forget what they were discussing in the first place. If Jane is furious with Dick and he can make her laugh, she might forget what she was angry about. If Jane wants something Dick doesn't want to deliver, he can make her laugh and forget her request.

10. Praise Then Please: Dick wants Jane to do something she hates. He butters her up first by telling her how much he loves her and appreciates her. He gets her feeling all warm and snuggly then pops the question. She will feel like a heel for refusing.

Next week, we will add additional tools to our persuasion kit.
For these and other fiction tools, you can pick up a copy of the Story Building Blocks: Crafting Believable Conflict in paperback or E-book.

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924. Goodbye 1700: DC’s New York offices close for good today


“In this year on March 1st came at last the Passing of King Elessar. It is said that the beds of Meriadoc and Peregrin were set beside the bed of the great king. Then Legolas built a grey ship in Ithilien, and sailed down Anduin and so over Sea; and with him; it is said, went Gimli the Dwarf. And when that ship passed, an end was come in Middle-earth of the Fellowship of the Ring”.


Today is the final day of DC Entertainment’s New York office, long located at 1700 Broadway, opposite the Ed Sullivan Theater where the Beatles took America and Stephen Colbert will soon take up residence. DC will now be located in Burbank, near its Warner Brothers parent company.

After 18 months of slow, agonizing attrition, the final New Yorkers, those who chose not to make the move to the new Burbank offices, will turn off the lights, shove the last color xerox into the shredder and move on to their new lives. I understand that Mad Magazine is staying in New York, and Marie Javins is shutting down some convergence stuff before she to goes off to the Grey Havens, but this is really the end of an era.

Usually when I say someone retiring is the end of an era, I mean that the way that person did business is gone. In this case I really do mean it is the end of the era of New York publishing in general, and New York comics publishing in specifics. From its sleazy, pulp infused beginning in the offices of Harry Donenfeld and Major Nicholson Wheeler, to the shops of Iger and Fox, on through the legendary Camelot of the Marvel Bullpen, the confident smiles of Continuity Studios, the DC implosion, Marvelcution, the Crisis Era, the evolution of stats to FTP servers, from men and women with bottles of india ink bowed over pages of art to men and women with wacom tablets fixing pixels, New York was at the heart of the American comics industry.

Although by the dawn of the direct sales era, Marvel and DC were the only publishers left in New York proper, they still loomed large in the freelancer’s ambitions and the readers’s imagination. For decade, a visit to the city by an out of town creator might include appointments at both Marvel and DC, in olden days merely wandering the halls in search of a friendly editor; in newer times appointments, visitors badges and close supervision were more the order of the day. (I’m not sure anyone is actually allowed in the Marvel offices any more.) People still visit the offices of Marvel and DC—mostly movie stars and wrestlers, based on the photos I see on my Twitter feed—but for freelancers it isn’t the kind of cozy home away from home that made certain editor’s offices a hang out spot as welcome as the corner bar or coffee shop.


One of my first visits to the DC offices was in the 80s before it moved to 1700 Broadway. Hanging out in Mark Waid’s office he told me it was my lucky day because Steve Ditko was coming by to drop off some work a bit later. Needless to say, I hung out until the moment arrived, shaking the great man’s hand awkwardly. Ever the professional, Ditko dropped of his pages, mumbled you’re welcome and then left. Later in the day I stood in front of a wall of covers as some guy named Mike Mignola analyzed their compositions.

An earlier visit (I’m too shy to say what year) was to interview Marv Wolfman, who put up with my fangirl interrogation with more courtesy than he had any need to. During the ordeal, a tall, gaunt young man arrived to shoot the shit, introducing himself as Frank Miller. I think he had read some of my writing in the Comics Journal and as I stammered my admiration of Daredevil, he said he liked my writing. I definitely wrote all about that day in my diary that night.

Many years later—after I had actually become Marv’s assistant for several years, sitting in an office in Burbank not far from where the new DC offices are located—I actually got a job at DC Comics itself, and 1700 Broadway became the daily destination of my commute. I’m not going to lie, the brief three years I worked at DC were miserable, definitely as much for the people I worked with as for me. But there were fun times, despite it all. Crashing Letterman rehearsals with Martha Thomases. Listening to anime soundtracks in Andy Helfer’s office. Working with incredible creators like Brian K. Vaughan, Warren Ellis, Darrick Robertson, Rodney Ramos, Devin Grayson, John Bolton, Sean Philips, Dylan Horrocks, Philip Bond and many more. Giving some people their first notable jobs, like Pia Guerra and Giuseppe Camuncoli. My first assignment there was editing the Space Ghost Coast to Coast comic, and I got Andy Merrill who wrote it and did the voice of Brak, to record the outgoing message on my answering machine. That was fun and I wish I had a recording of that recording!


Even when I worked there, 15 years ago, DC’s 1700 office space already seemed to be some kind of throwback to a previous era of corporate life. Every other place I’d worked had open plan cubicles and doors with windows for all but mega boss level execs. At DC even assistants had a solid door that could be shut for total privacy, creating a little world where you could tear your hair out over late freelancers or office politics. (Sometimes the doors didn’t shut enough; on one of my early, journalistic visits to the office, through a door left ajar I was amazed to see someone—Joe Orlando?—taking a full on nap, face down on his desk.) A stat room—outdated even when I worked there—adorned with an 8-track tape was one of my particular favorite places. A hallway leading to the ladies room near the Vertigo offices was what I called “The Hall of the Failed Imprints” with the logos of Impulse, Piranha, Helix and more in a stately parade. A giant framed cover of a book called Leave it to Binky with the image of a man mistakenly kissing a fish suggested that humor comics had once been popular and I theorized that they could be again, but I was seemingly alone in that belief.

The years I worked at DC happened to coincide with the lowest depths of the US comics industry since Wertham. Sales were awful and morale was low around town—Marvel was coming out of bankruptcy and had some good stuff in the Marvel Knights line, but that was an outlier. I was convinced that graphic novels and the alternate esthetics of the indie comics world would help rebuild the audience that had fled in droves following the speculation bust earlier in the 90s, but finding a way to actually put that conviction into action wasn’t easy in an industry where risking any money whatsoever was a pipedream.

But I survived, comics survived, manga brought in a whole new readership, Bill Jemas’s daring moves at Marvel perked up the interest of some new and lapsed readers; DC figured out how to get the Wednesday crowd totally committed with events like the original 52, and movies starring Spider-Man, Batman and the X-men proved that the characters had legs outside the pages of deconstructed periodicals.

And a new boom was made, much of it coming out of the offices at 1700 Broadway.

I’ve written a lot about the politics of DC’s New York offices over the years, but the short version of the story I always heard is that Warner Bros. always wanted to move it to the West Coast, or at least had an inkling of wanting to do it. And Paul Levitz, the Gandalf of this particular tale, knew it, but always stayed one step ahead of those plans. When Levitz left all the way back in 2009 and Diane Nelson took over, moving the offices to the West Coast was once again considered—and a whole west coast office that was staff-ready was already built— but Levitz, or someone, had signed such a long lease on the offices that to break it would literally have cost more than the move. So it took a few more years before the plan could finally be announced, in the fall of 2013.

And then the long goodbye began.


I think the last time I was actually in the DC offices was five years ago, to see the late Jerry Robinson talk about his iconic Joker art he was selling. Over the last few months, I had a lot of plans to go up to DC for one last visit, but I could never bring myself to put it on my calendar. I guess it would have been too sad to actually see in real life. My Facebook feed has been sad enough over the last few months, with questions about Los Angeles real estate, then photos of packing, goodbye parties, and status updates located at LAX. The new DC looks to be an interesting place, with a lot of new attitudes and definitely some changed procedures. I’ll put up all the speculation I’ve been saving up about the future of DC in a later post, but for now, it’s time to end this era.

Ron Marz also has a bittersweet reminiscence:

Visiting a publisher’s offices is a boon to a freelancer’s career. It makes you a face, not merely a name attached to an e-mail. You get so much more accomplished in the same room, rather than via electronic means. Assignments result from those visits; bumping into an editor in the hall can bear more fruit than a stack of pitches.

I was offered the writing gig on “Superboy” when I was up at the office, the editor essentially saying, “Hey, we need new, regular ‘Superboy’ writer. Do you want to do it?” I said yes, and started on it shortly thereafter. It was that simple.


Dan DiDio had some of the best packing up photos of all on his FB page.

Computers for the last remaining New York employees were removed Wednesday, just leaving more clean-up, as wistfully chronicled by Vertigo’s group editor Will Dennis, who is not making the move.

All those… moments… will be lost in time, like tears… in… rain. Time… to die… #byebyeDC

A photo posted by will dennis (@thrilliod) on

Life goes on, and I’m sure we’ll look back on all this as an exciting new era for DC in years to come. Eventually people who remembered DC being in New York will be vastly outnumbered by people who only heard about it, and Will’s Roy Batty quote will be entirely accurate. I send my best to those who are leaving their jobs, and to those who took the move to the West. In the movie “Wild” there’s talk about coming to a “fork in the road” in life. This fork was more corporate than most, but instead of dreaming of a thrilling job at a New York publishing house, kids will now dream of a thrilling job at a small division of a movie studio. And Batman will still throw up his Bat-signal.

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a Lord of the Rings quote for every occasion, and here’s the one that kept going through my mind as I wrote this, from the end of the chapter “Lothlórian”:

At the hill’s foot Frodo found Aragorn, standing still and silent as a tree; but in his hand was a small golden bloom of elanor, and a light was in his eyes. He was wrapped in some fair memory: and as Frodo looked at him he knew that he beheld things as they once had been in this same place. For the grim years were removed from the face of Aragorn, and he seemed clothed in white, a young lord tall and fair; and he spoke words in the Elvish tongue to one whom Frodo could not see. Arwen vanimelda, namárië! he said, and then he drew a breath, and returning out of his thought he looked at Frodo and smiled.

`Here is the heart of Elvendom on earth,’ he said, `and here my heart dwells ever, unless there be a light beyond the dark roads that we still must tread, you and I. Come with me! ‘ And taking Frodo’s hand in his, he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as living man.


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925. Doctor Who wrap up: BBC renews, Titan previews 3-Doctor FCBD issue and Texas celebrates “Dr. Who Day”

Doctor Who is here to stay…at least for the next five years. Whovians around the world have reason to celebrate today, as the BBC reported executive producer Steven Moffat’s comments to Doctor Who Magazine that the rebooted series would do a “minimum of 15 years” in total.  Ben Stephenson, BBC’s outgoing head of drama commissioning  was even more optimistic, saying: “As long as the people looking after it are passionate about it… there’s absolutely no reason why it can’t do another 50 years.” This announcement comes on the heels of the new series’ 10 year anniversary, celebrated by fans across the world. The show’s popularity has led even mainstream outlets like MTV News to cover the anniversary, ranking the modern episodes in order of quality.

When the modern version of the series went on the air in 2005, Doctor Who was largely unknown to mainstream America. The adventures of the time-traveling, two-hearted alien known only as “The Doctor” were confined to PBS rebroadcasts of the original or “Classic” series, which was produced by the BBC from 1963-1989. Low production values and the show’s undeniable Britishness were barriers to crossover success in the States, though a cult following developed among science fiction fans who grew up watching the series.

That all changed in 2010 when BBC America licensed the show for broadcast in the United States. Instead of waiting months for rebroadcasts of episodes, they now waited weeks. Perhaps there is no better bellwether of the shows immense Stateside popularity than the town of Denton, TX. Local comic book store retailer Tim Stoltzfus of More Fun Comics lobbied to nab an exclusive cover and won. Titan Comics released 29 variant covers for Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Issue 1 and among them was a cover featuring the TARDIS parked outside the Denton County Courthouse.


Local Denton artist Jake Ekiss drew the exclusive cover.

The recognition drew the attention of Denton Mayor Chris Watts, who drew up a proclamation declaring April 4, 2015 “Dr. Who Day” in Denton. Local Whovians attended a reading of the proclamation in front of the courthouse where local a local cosplay group erected a TARDIS prop. Brothers Travis and Tom Huston attended the ceremony, dressed as the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors, respectively. Tom, 12, liked seeing “so many Whovians,” while Travis, 9, said: “there aren’t many great shows on like it, our whole family watches it together.” Both brothers agreed it was  “really awesome that our courthouse is on the cover.”

Geronimo and Allons-y! The Huston brothers dressed as their favorite Doctors: Travis, age 9, dressed as Eleven and Tom, age 12, went as Ten.

Geronimo and Allons-y! The Huston brothers dressed as their favorite Doctors: Travis, age 9, as Eleven and Tom, age 12, as Ten. Photo by Cristy Flowers Huston.

Likely the Houston brothers are among the fans excited for the upcoming three Doctor issue to be released on May 2nd, Free Comic Book Day. Check out the cover and preview pages below:




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