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Gene Kannenberg, Jr., Director of ComicsResearch.org, did a presentation at last Wednesday night's Gendered Publishing panel at UConn that had so much content that was new to me that I decided to give it its own post.
Unlike children's publishing, the comic book world that graphic novels grew out of was not dominated by women. In fact, Kannenberg said that it wasn't uncommon in days of old for women artists and colorists to get into comic books through the men in their lives, brothers or husbands who were already working for a comic book publisher.
The Graphic Women And Their Work Marie Severin
has great historic significance because she started working in comics in the 1950s and was with Marvel
from the 1960s until 1996. She doesn't appear to have moved specifically into children's literature, though she was involved with the artwork for 25 of the 26 Muppet Babies
comics, which would certainly seem to have been directed toward children. She was also involved with the Not Brand Echh
series, which I remember. Trina Robbins
began as an underground cartoonist, according to Kannenberg. She moved to Marvel, also, working on comics aimed at young girls. She was one of the first cartoonists to do comic graphic novel adaptations. It appears that Robbins is also writing YA graphic novels
with other artists
doing the graphic element.Francoise Mouly
put in time at Marvel, too, starting out as a colorist. Kannenberg says she used her earnings to buy a press and start RAW, a comics anthology, with Art Spiegelman. While art editor of the New Yorker (a position I believe she still has), she and Spiegelman produced the Little Lit series for Harper Collins, and five years ago, she started TOON Books
, which produces graphic novels for younger readers.
Guess what? Jill Thompson
has worked for Marvel, too. She's also hit a number of other comics publishers, working on both Wonder Woman
and Neil Gaiman's Sandman
for DC. Her work specifically for children is The Scary Godmother
, the first in a series.Linda Medley
is more of a DC person. She has written and illustrated a whole series of Castle Waiting
books that have a fairy tale thing going on, though I can't tell if they're specifically for children. She's also supposed to have done some rewrites of the Wizard of Oz
may be the best known of this group to those of us in children's literature because of her book, Smile
. She's also adapted four books from The Baby-sitters Club
series. Interesting point--She's the first of the women Kannenberg discussed who not only didn't have Marvel experience, she doesn't appear to have traditional comic book history at all.Colleen A.F. Venable
is a book designer for First Second Books
, and has written a series of children's books. Again, this is a graphic artist who doesn't seem to have come out of the comic book publishing companies.
What, If Anything, Have We Learned?
- Since attending last week's panel discussion, I've wondered if male comic book artists have also moved into children's books.
- Women (and probably men, too) appear now to be able to work with graphic novels for children without having first put in time with traditional comic publishing companies.
Fun Home is a memoir told in the form of a graphic novel, a collage of comic artist Alison Bechdel's impressions of her life — from her childhood spent growing up in a funeral home to her college years discovering women and burying her closeted father. Bechdel layers her methodical drawings with precise, searching prose, [...]
By: Jen Robinson
Blog: Jen Robinson
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I'm pleased to announce that the lists of 2013 Cybils panelist were posted this morning. Here are direct links to each of the posts:
If you were selected for a panel this year, congratulations! Being a Cybils panelist is a lot of work (particulary for Round 1), but it's highly rewarding. You get to work with amazing people. You also get to select wonderful books that are well-written and kid-friendly, and spread the word about those books to the reading / blogging world.
If you were not selected for a panel this year, we are sorry about that. There were so many amazing applicants this time around that it was impossible to put everyone on a panel. The category organizers worked hard to create a balance of new vs. returning participants, as well as to achieve a mix of skills and viewpoints on each panel. This inevitably meant that some people, even some people who have been great panelists in the past, had to sit out this year. We hope that you'll understand and try again.
We also humbly suggest that some categories (such as young adult fiction and fiction picture books) are more popular than others, and that applying in the nonfiction or apps categories next time might help (if you review in those areas).
I've been tweeting the lists of panelists (the ones who are on Twitter), and will be creating Twitter lists for the panels, too. I hope you'll follow along. Many thanks to everyone who has helped to spread the word, on Twitter, Facebook, your blogs, etc.
Over the next couple of weeks we will be posting updated category descriptions on the Cybils blog and getting ready behind the scenes. Nominations open October 1st. Start thinking of your favorite high-quality, kid-friendly titles in the above categories. It's Cybils time!
Once upon a time, First Second Books, creators of lovely graphic novels for kids, published a book called Nursery Rhyme Comics
, and it was good. Now they have filled a felt need with a second book in the same vein--Fairy Tale Comics
(coming Sept. 24), and it, too, is a book well worth adding to your child's library (after enjoying it yourself).
17 stellar cartoonists were gathered together to present, in graphic form, 17 fairy tales in kid-friendly fashion. The majority are well-known stories (Red Riding Hood, Snow White), but several are from outside the European tradition (like The Boy Who Drew Cats, which you can preview here
, and The Prince and the Tortoise). There's a nicely balanced mix of girl and boy and animal heroes. Some stick right to the traditional versions, others put little twists in (a female woodcutter, a boy who realizes he has no qualifications for king-ship, and refuses the crown, sparking a democratic revolution). In short, there's lots of fun.
Graphic novels for kids are excellent offerings for any reluctant readers you might have on hand. Some of the stories here have slightly denser text than others, but there's nothing here that's unsuitable for a young reader of 7 or 8, and many are great for emergent readers; that being said, even 13 year old boys will read it repeatedly (from personal observation) and grown-ups will enjoy it too.
This one is not just great for the reader, but also one for the budding graphic artist. When you have 17 different artists all gathered together, it's a fantastic way for a kid to see and learn different approaches to telling a story visually and rendering reality in comic form.
And I really do think this particular collection of fairy tales serves a felt need. Raising my boys, I've worried a bit about their fairy tale literacy--I've read stories out-loud to them, sure, but they've never voluntarily curled up with the Brothers Grimm, and so many of the fairy tale picture books are girl-oriented, and they weren't that interested. However, when something is presented in comic book form, its boy appeal soars....and voila, they become familiar with the stories. I hope there are more books to come!
It's my pleasure to be part of the Blog Tour for Fairy Tale Comics
, and to have interviewed one of the contributors--Bobby London
, whose story "Sweet Porridge!" kicks off the book.Charlotte
: So it's my understanding that Chris Duffy, the editor, read lots of fairy tales, picked the ones he thought would make a nice book with Calista Brill, the senior editor at First Second, and then found "cartoonists who would be a good match for particular stories" (from this interview at the Westfield Comics Blog
: More often than not, he'll just rely on his poker buddies. Charlotte
: Were you surprised to be asked to illustrate this story? Did you get a specific version of the story that specified "porridge," or did you get a chance to browse through versions with different food-stuffs (such as pasta)? Had you in fact had any previous experience drawing porridge, or other gelatinous substances, that might explain why you were picked for this one?Bobby
: I was surprised to be asked to draw the lead story, I'm usually found at the back of the bus, when I'm not busy being thrown under it. As for sampling grits, rice krispies or any other forms of breakfast cereal for the story, no, I did not; I don't think the Grimm Brothers would appreciate me changing the title of their story to "Sweet Pasta"; we're talking about the Grimm Bros. here, not Carlo Collodi
It's true I had to be adept at drawing any number of funky substances to keep my spot in National Lampoon, but for Fairy Tale Comics
I had to work very closely with Mark Martin, the talented cartoonist who translated my color layouts to Photoshop, to get precisely the right color of porridge yellow. Too much green or brown and I would have proven I taught the guys at Ren & Stimpy everything they know. And, no, it wasn't type casting; I prefer to think was chosen for this project because of my literary heritage, i.e. my familiarity with the works of Cervantes, Rabelais and Jonathan Swift.Charlotte
: I've been reading up on your past history as a cartoonist....how you have moved from comic strips for grown-ups to children's media, and now to graphic illustration for kids. Did you enjoy creating your version of the story?Bobby
: My past history is rather poorly represented in the media and generally in the context of the lives of other artists. My Wikipedia page has been vandalised - er, that is, I mean, "edited' and "rewritten" - over 2 dozen times by total strangers, fans of other cartoonists and people to whom I owe large sums of money. For instance, nobody knows that I didn't start out as an adult, have been drawing cartoons well since age 4 and submitting to Highlights For Children at 12. Of course, I was attempting to illustrate the Kama Sutra as soon as puberty set in but I couldn't have made the segue to kids comics without having a successful career illustrating for mainstream newspapers and magazines and I brought those characters with me to Nickelodeon Magazine via my comic strip, Cody
. It's a very liberating experience drawing comics for kids. Charlotte
: When you were working on Sweet Porridge, did thoughts of the youthful age of the possible audience affect choices you were making, or did you let things just happen?Bobby
: No, I don't have to think about it. My girlfriend will attest to my true age level being about 6. When writing for adults, I often used to get tired of having to shock myself so this is a holiday. And, you know, I get my nasty grownup ya-yas out drawing Dirty Duck so I don't feel compelled to sneak naughty messages into kid stuff, like some perverted creeps I know.Charlotte
: What will be next? Do you think you'll do more graphic illustration for kids, maybe even your own graphic novel?Bobby
: I'm working on an autobiography but it's not a graphic novel, I couldn't bear drawing *some* people I've had to work with over the years ( I'm a cartoonist, not a Witch Doctor). Yes, I'd love to write and illustrate a storybook or two if they'd still have me, and Chris Duffy has been nagging me to do a Cody graphic novel. Animation offers have come in, too. Believe me, it's a dream come true to still be in demand at age 63 but I think I'll have to hire an assistant. If that means I'm a sellout, so be it, I also get the Senior Discount at Chili's.Charlotte
: Thanks Bobby! And good luck with the autobiography.
And thanks also to First Second for the review copy of Fairy Tale Comics
By: Powell's Staff,
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, Ahmir Thompson
, Alison Bechdel
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, Jo Ann Beard
, Joe Brainard
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, Lisa Kron
, Lisa Pulitzer
, Lucy Grealy
, Marlo Thomas
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In an age when everyone and their niece has written a tell-all book, when even fictional characters like Ron Burgundy are penning the stories of their lives, how does a memoir stand out among its peers? What qualities make it like nothing we've seen before? Sometimes truly extraordinary experiences can launch a memoir into uncharted [...]
In Marbles, Ellen Forney explores the relationship between mental illness and creativity. A working cartoonist in Seattle, she is diagnosed with bipolar disorder and must decide whether to accept treatment (and risk sacrificing her art) or continue self-medicating and hope for the best. Marbles is a satisfying read, both as a personal memoir and as [...]
In this graphic memoir, Nicole Georges shares how she went from believing her father was dead throughout her childhood to visiting a psychic who debunks the family myth to eventually calling "tough love" talk radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Additionally, Georges includes memories from her childhood regarding her mother's marriages and live-in boyfriends as a [...]
Fun Home, in concert with Craig Thompson's Blankets, was one of the works that proved to my doubting eyes that graphic novels could reach heights every bit as poetic, moving, and magical as the finest prose. Darkly funny but wholly sincere, the story of a young woman coming to terms both with herself and her [...]
Editor's note: Chris Bolton is not only a former Powell's employee, he was also once the primary writer for this blog. So we are particularly proud today to post the following essay by our former coworker and friend as he promotes the publication of his first book. Congratulations, Chris! As is so often the case [...]
Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists
Edited by Chris Duffy
First Second, on shelves September 24, 2013
review copy provided by the publisher
From the same editor who brought us Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists
, we now have this fabulous collection of Fairy Tale Comics!
17 different artists, 17 different stories from the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, Bre'r Rabbit, 1001 Nights, and Japanese, English and Russian Folktales.
Readers in my classroom will recognize the work of Raina Telgemeier (Drama
) and Charise Mericle Harper (Fashion Kitty versus the Fashion Queen
). Probably 6 of the 17 stories will be familiar.
So, it's safe to say that this book will introduce readers (in a fun way) to many new graphic artists and many new fairy tales! Win-Win!
By: Melissa Wiley
Blog: Here in the Bonny Glen
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, Eric Shanower
, graphic novels
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, Skottie Young
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Illustration by John R. Neill
I loved the Oz books as a kid. Loooooved them. Collected the whole series, the Baum-authored ones plus a couple of the Ruth Plumly Thompson sequels, and enlisted my father’s help to track down the best editions, the white-bordered oversized paperbacks with John R. Neill illustrations.
I reread the entire series regularly all through high school and even on college vacations. Dorothy, Ozma, Tik-Tok, Scraps, the Hungry Tiger, the Glass Cat, Betsy Bobbin, Billina, Polychrome, General Jinjur, the Shaggy Man, Button-Bright: this astonishing array of lively characters peopled my imagination and taught me a great deal about diversity, varying points of view, and fun. They were an outspoken bunch, these Oz folks. They had strong opinions; their perspectives clashed; they worked through conflicts and celebrated one another’s quirks. I adored them. Still do.
Strangely, the Oz books never seemed to take off for my kids as read-alouds. Baum’s prose is, I confess, a bit arch, sometimes saccharine. His genius was for character and plot, not lyricism. My older three girls went through waves of reading the series on their own, but they didn’t seem to catch Oz fever with the intensity I had.
Enter Rilla. Well, first enter Eric Shanower and Skottie Young, who are bringing the Oz books to a new generation of readers via truly gorgeous graphic novel adaptations published by Marvel. Oz, overflowing as it is with colorful, outlandish characters, was made for graphic depictions. Eric Shanower (who has become a friend of mine through Comic-Con and SCBWI) is a true Ozian—why, his own press is called Hungry Tiger, and his contributions to Oz literature and fandom are staggering. His adaptations are faithful, deft, and affectionate. And Skottie Young’s art, while a departure from the John R. Neill images burned into my brain as canon, is wholly delightful. It’s clear he is having tremendous fun bringing these creatures to life.
I’ve mentioned before that Rilla, as a reader, is drawn to books with a heavy illustration-to-text ratio. She prefers Brambly Hedge to Little House, for example; those gorgeous, intricately detailed drawing of tree-stump pantries and attics can occupy her for a full afternoon. She’ll spend an hour talking to me about Eric Carle’s techniques. For her, art is the magic; an accompanying plotline is simply a nice bonus.
We brought Eric and Skottie’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz home from SDCC last month, and Rilla—well, you’d have thought we gave her an actual trip to the Land of Oz, she was so excited. It’s the longest, hardest book she has read on her own. Oh yes, it’s a graphic novel, but the text is quite sophisticated: there’s some nice meaty vocabulary in the dialogue. Baum didn’t talk down to his young readers, and neither does Eric Shanower. (And of course I’ve written volumes before about the excellent reading skills imparted by comics: there’s a lot of complex decoding going on as a young reader navigates those panels.)
“Bad news,” she told me mournfully one day. “I finished the best book in the world.”
“Guess what,” I whispered. “There are more.”
Her gasp, her shining eyes: no Princess of Oz was more radiant.
The next week’s worth of bedtimes saw her poring over The Marvelous Land of Oz, one of my favorite books in the series (both the original and the graphic adaptation). Every morning, she narrated the previous night’s events to me, dancing with suspense as the story unfolded, and belly-laughing over the ending.
Then came Ozma of Oz, a book about which my deep affection renders me nearly incoherent. Even that sentence is on shaky grammatical territory. Imagine a lot of squealing noises and some Rilla-esque bouncing around. I mean, I mean, Tik-Tok and the Wheelers! The lunch-pail trees! The loathsome, fabulous Princess Langwidere and her collection of interchangeable heads. SHE WANTS DOROTHY’S HEAD FOR THE COLLECTION, YOU GUYS. Come on. And then the Nome King and his high-stakes guessing game (shades of Heckedy Peg), and Billina the Hen’s surprising trump card. Oh, oh, oh.
Don’t tell Rilla, but I’d already given a copy of Ozma to my goddaughter, Vivi, whose mother is, if anything, an even bigger Oz fanatic than I am. She even looks like Ozma. (Kristen, why why why didn’t we ever go as Ozma and Polychrome for Halloween?)
Polychrome, the Rainbow’s Daughter, meets Princess Ozma. Illustration by John R. Neill.
Rilla hasn’t met Polychrome yet. She will swoon, mark my words. The Rainbow’s Daughter? Polly of the swirling robes and floaty hair? Rilla’s a goner. Like Ozma, she’ll make Polly’s acquaintance in The Road to Oz. I can’t wait to see what Skottie Young does with Polychrome and the Shaggy Man. Both characters are bubbling over with the whimsy he captures so well.
But first comes Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. Even for Baum, this is a bizarre tale. Dorothy gets caught in a San Francisco earthquake and falls all the way to the center of the earth, where weird vegetable people (as in, they grow on vines) called the Mangaboos are on the verge of executing her when, whew!, who should float down in his balloon but Dorothy’s old acquaintance, the Wizard?
After that comes The Emerald City of Oz. Rilla and I may not be able to wait for the collected edition; we might have to start picking up the floppies from our local comic shop.
By: Genevieve Hayes,
Stars: Aaron Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Nicolas Cage
Inspired by comic books, Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), an ordinary teenager, decides to become Kick-Ass, a masked vigilante and soon discovers he’s not the only crime fighter roaming the streets of New York, when he encounters the far more competent father-daughter team of Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) and the ultra-flashy Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). However, when Kick-Ass comes to the attention of Frank D’Amico, a local mafia boss, he becomes drawn into a world far more dangerous than he ever imagined and must become the superhero he dreams of being or die trying.
In the last week, I have watched two superhero films: The Avengers
; and although Kick-Ass
didn’t make even a fraction of what The Avengers
made at the box office (at the time of writing, The Avengers
is the third-highest grossing film of all time), as far as I’m concerned, it is by far the superior film.
While all hugely successful, the recent string of movies based on Marvel comics has been rather hit and miss. Iron Man
was excellent (with one of the most memorable endings of a superhero movie ever), as was X-Men: First Class
, but some of the other films have felt more like extended television episodes than proper movies in their own right (I’m thinking of you, Iron Man 2
). The Avengers
sits somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
In spite of taking way too long to get going (largely due to the fact that each of the four main superheroes must be introduced one by one and given roughly equal screen-time – I’m guessing this was some sort of contractual thing), when The Avengers
does finally get to the point, the action scenes are pretty awesome, and there are a number of moments in Joss Whedon’s script that are laugh-aloud funny. Yet, in spite of the fact that Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk and Captain America are all fighting to save the planet on which I live from an alien invasion, at no point in the film’s 143 minute run time did I actually care as to whether or not they were going to succeed. This is because, in spite of having the greatest physical goal imaginable, none of the Avengers have anything at stake emotionally. Saving the world is just a job for them and they have nothing to prove or change in their lives. It’s the “why” that makes us care about a character, be it saving the world in order to ask out the girl/guy of their dreams or killing the bad guy in order to avenge the death of a loved one. You can have all the wisecracks and special effects in the world, but without a good “why”, a movie is nothing more than a hollow shell destined to be forgotten as soon as you leave the cinema. And this is why Kick-Ass
outdoes The Avengers
Part teen angst comedy, part ultra-violent superhero parody, with Kick-Ass
we are presented with a superhero it is impossible not to like. Unlike the Avengers, Dave Lizewski has no special powers or skills, but he still goes out and fights crime because of his twin desires to make a difference to the world and to get the girl of his dreams to notice him. Those are goals that ordinary people can understand and as such, we want him to win. In fact, every major character in Kick-Ass
is motivated by something more complex than “I’m doing this because that’s just what I do,” and as a result, we want them to get the happy endings that they so richly deserve.
That’s not to say that happy endings are inevitable for these characters. Mark Millar’s graphic novel upon which the movie is based is actually pretty bleak and depressing and does not deliver on this front, leaving some readers (i.e. me) feeling bummed out at the end of reading it. Nevertheless, bleak and depressing does not a successful Hollywood blockbuster make and screenwriter/director Matthew Vaughn (who, incidentally, also co-wrote and directed X-Men: First Class
) has the good sense to replace the comic’s loneliness and despair with optimism and hope, improving the story dramatically and turning it into a feel-good film that will leave you grinning for days after watching it.Verdict
: As well as providing Nicolas Cage with his best role in years, this tale of an underdog with good intentions is one of the best superhero films of the last decade and runs circles around mega-hits such as The Avengers
Raising a reader: how comics and graphic novels can help your kids love to read!
Great article by Cory Doctorow highlighting a new educational resource about comics’ role in literacy. Titled “Raising a Reader” and written by Dr. Meryl Jaffee, this resource is aimed at parents and educators and is available in PDF form for free download.
By: Kathy Temean,
Blog: Writing and Illustrating
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Andrea Offermann was born in Cologne, Germany, and grew up in the countryside close to the city, in an old horse stable converted to a house, surrounded by a wild garden. During a visit to the US she fell in love with Art Center College of Design and eventually moved to California to study at the school. She graduated in 2005 with a BFA in Illustration, and stayed for another year to work as an illustrator and fine artist.
At Art Center, she had the chance to take several print making classes and fell in love with the different techniques, especially the intaglio technique of drawing with needles and then etching the line into the surface. Later she took further intaglio classes at a printmaking school in Italy, and the love of line work has influenced my style very much since.
In spring 2006 Andrea moved back to Germany and is now living in Hamburg and exploring different areas of illustration such as children’s books, graphic novels and editorial work, while maintaining a close connection to fine art. Her work has appeared in numerous publications such as Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, 3×3, Illustration Now!. Her illustrations were chosen for the Bologna children’s book fair exhibition and in spring of 2013 my portfolio received the Grand Prize at the showcase of the SCBWI winter conference in New York.
Andrea’s work space. Here is Andrea and her process:
In this case the inspiration for the art was more literal than usual. I had seen a beautiful exhibition with art work by Dürer and fell in love with his wedding portraits. I wanted to do wedding portraits of a frog and a hare.
My thumbnails are always tiny and really just convey the idea of what I would like to do, with very very rough direction and composition.
I then scan the thumbnail in and print it out enlarged, then take it to my light box to trace the rough composition and then build the more refined sketch on top of it.
I scan the final sketch in and print it out, then use charcoal paper to transfer the drawing onto stretched watercolor paper. The charcoal line from the transfer paper is usually very dark, so I erase most of it away until I have a faint line left. Then, using copic multiliner pens or pen and ink, I draw the final image.
When the drawing is finished I paint with watercolors on top of it. I paint in thin layers and build the color up slowly, adding texture and details bit by bit.
How long have you been illustrating?
For about 8 years.
Did you go to school for art?
Yes, I went to Art Center College of Design.
What types of classes did you take?
I went through the regular illustration curriculum, focusing on editorial and book illustration. I was also particularly drawn to classes in printmaking techniques and took classes in intaglio both at Art Center and at Il Bisonte printmaking school in Italy.
Do you think the classes you took in college influenced your style?
Yes, I think especially the printmaking classes influenced my style, also several classes where we experimented with techniques such as glazing and rendering with different media.
Have you seen your style change since when you first started?
Yes definitely. My work was pretty much all over the place when I started, I was trying different things to see what would work best for a given assignment. Now I think a style has evolved, and I hope it will keep evolving, I keep trying new things and am hoping to be able to continue experimenting.
What is your favorite medium to use?
I love to work with pen and ink and then color with different media. Lately I have also started using paper silhouette.
Did any of the contacts you made in college help you get your first job or any contract?
Yes fellow illustrators at school brought me in contact with editors they had met with and eventually I got my first book contract in the US through one of those contacts. Also I was introduced to the gallery where I first showed my art at through illustrator friends.
The school itself had also set up some meetings with publishers and companies before graduation, and one of my first jobs also came through those meetings.
What was the first piece of art that you sold?
It was a series of intaglio prints titled “Magellan”.
Has your artwork won any awards?
Yes, most recently my portfolio won the showcase at the SCBWI winter conference in New York. My artwork was also chosen for the Bologna childrens book fair exhibit, has appeared in the books of Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, 3×3, Illustration Now!, won 1st place of the AltPick awards, and was on the shortlist of the competition to illustrate “Life of Pi”.
What book was your first? When was that?
The first book I illustrated was a picture book for German publisher “Carlsen” entitled “Keine Angst vor Schafen”, written by Will Gmehling. The book was published in 2008.
How did the contract come about?
I had met with an editor of Carlsen publishing at the Frankfrut book fair in 2006. Many European publishers make appointments with illustrators at the Frankfurt book fair, there are even open portfolio reviews where you can stand in line and show your work. After the fair the editor contacted me to ask if I would be interested in illustrating a picture book for Carlsen.
How did you get chosen to do the cover for the middle grade novel, The Boneshaker?
A designer I had met with had kept my postcard of “Pink Elephants” from an earlier meeting and when Clarion was looking for an artist to illustrate the cover of “The Boneshaker” she gave the card to the editor of the book.
Did you do any interior art for the book?
Yes, I did 13 black and white interior illustrations for the book.
Do you think you will branch out to doing illustrations for picture books?
Yes, definitely, I love illustrating books for all ages and actually just finished illustrating a picture book for an Austrian publisher (Nilpferd in Residenz), “Der Eisdrache (The Frost Flyer)” written by Troon Harrison, which I already mentioned earlier. This story was a great pleasure to illustrate, after illustrating several books for older children it was fun to work for this kind of book again, I hope I will always be able to maintain a balance between working on different books for different age ranges.
Do you think you will ever write and illustrate your own book?
I have been writing for a little while now and am hoping that I will be able to present my own story ideas sometime in the future.
How did you get the contract to illustrate The Midnight Zoo with Candlewick?
I was contacted by the art buying department who had seen “The Boneshaker” and my illustrations for the competition to illustrate “Life of Pi”. They thought that the sensibility of the illustrations would work well for Sonya Hartnett’s story.
How did Little, Brown, & Company find you for Ghost Knight?
I met with an art director at Little, Brown who saw my portfolio and immediately mentioned that they were looking for an illustrator for Ghost Knight. The author Cornelia Funke had specifically asked for an illustrator that could depict architecture, so I did a sample piece first to show how I would illustrate the cathedral, and both Little, Brown and the author liked the piece.
The same question for The Poisons of Caux: The Shepherd of Weeds with Knopf?
Similar story: I had met with the art director ad showed my portfolio. A year later she contacted me to inquire if I would be available to illustrate the book.
I have heard illustrators complain about how fussy publishers are with the covers of their books. Did you find doing a book cover more challenging?
Publishers definitely take great care when it comes to putting together the cover, since it’s the first thing that the audience will see, and it will be surrounded by other book covers geared towards the same audience, it needs to stand out but work for the audience at the same time. Also, many different departments have a say in what the cover should look like, so the decision making process can take longer then with interior art. It has happened to me that a cover was completely finished and then rejected by the sales department because they decided to go a completely different route, target a slightly older audience, not use illustration at all etc.
Is it harder to get published in the US when you live in Europe?
I think it’s more difficult to introduce your work to the publishers, but once the connection is established I don’t think there are great difficulties, the communication takes place mostly via email, artwork can be sent digitally or via FedEx.
What is the children’s book market like where you live?
The German speaking market is much smaller, publishers are maybe a bit more hesitant, they plan with much smaller print runs, so the advances are smaller too.
Have many languages do you speak?
German and English and tiny bits of French and Italian.
Have you ever visited the USA?
Yes, I studied in California and try to travel to the US about once a year to meet with publishers, go to conferences or show openings.
Have you published any of your illustrations in magazines?
Yes I do editorial illustration every once in a while.
Do you use Photoshop with your illustrations?
I use Photoshop for retouching or making small changes. Also, for magazine illustration and for the two “graphic novel” stories I wrote and illustrated I decided to use mostly digital coloring.
Do you own a graphic tablet?
YES! I love my graphic tablet.
Did you set up a studio in your house?
Up until now I was working from a studio in my apartment, but I will be moving into a shared work space in July.
Do you try to stick to a schedule to get your illustrations done?
Yes definitely. Especially when projects overlap I find it necessary to have a schedule I am working with. It happens often that deadlines are moved around, so it is very important for me to know how much time I will need for certain projects to be able to confirm new dates.
How many books have you published?
10 so far, in September the 11th book, “Der Eisdrache” written by Troon Harrison, will be published.
Have you gone to any of the big conferences for Children’s Illustrators and Writers?
Yes I have attended the summer conference in LA twice and the winter conference in New York twice as well.
What are your career goals?
I would like to keep illustrating stories that are meaningful and that reach audiences all over the world and of all age levels. It would be wonderful to one day be able to write and illustrate my own books. Most of all I want to keep learning and experimenting and growing, and make art and stories that touch audiences.
What are you working on now?
As I said I just finished a picture book for an Austrian publisher. Right now I am finishing up a book cover for a YA novel for a US publisher that I am very excited about, we tried a few interesting things with this cover, I am very much looking forward to seeing it in print. Next I will be illustrating a graphic novel, I am very happy about this new challenge.
Are there any painting tips (materials,paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?
Hmmm… unfortunately my technique is not very unique, as far as materials go I love using lanaquarelle hot pressed paper and copic multiliners for the line work, for watercolor I use mostly Windsor Newton.
Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?
Stay motivated and patient, keep educating yourself, stay in touch with colleagues and share information. When I started out I had a great critique group of illustrator friends, and it helped me so much to be in touch with them and get critique and motivation, help and ideas through these meetings and talks. Now I feel very lucky to be part of the SCBWI mentorship program and have the opportunity to meet and be in touch with all these fantastic illustrators. Unfortunately travelling to the US is far for me, so I can’t see everybody as much as I would like to. I can only encourage you to look for a crtique group around you and if there is one join it, its such a gift to be able to share your thoughts on your work and learn from each other.
Thank you Andrea for sharing your artwork, journey, and process. I have a lot of people write me to let me know how much they love Illustrator Saturday, exactly because of talented illustrators like you. Please let us know when you have an another book or another success story to share. I will be happy to show if off to let everyone know.
If you would like to visit Andrea, here is her website: http://www.andreaoffermann.com If you like Illustrator Saturday and Andreas work, please take a moment to leave Andrea a comment about her post. It is really appreciated.
Filed under: Advice
, authors and illustrators
, How to
, Illustrator's Saturday
Tagged: andrea Offermann
, Art Center College of Design
, Children's Book Illustrator
, Graphic Novels
by Charise Mericle Harper
The other day I was at my son’s book fair, talking with his teacher. A few of my books were included in the event, and she picked one up and flipped through it. All of a sudden she asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” I’m pretty good at answering this question at school talks, but on the spot, I was speechless. I ended up smiling uncomfortably, shrugging my shoulders and saying, “I don’t know,” and then I quickly changed the subject.
On stage and in front of a group, I’m fine with the spotlight, but in a social situation, the last thing I’m comfortable talking about is me. Later that day, I started feeling guilty about how I’d responded. I should have made more of an effort to answer her, because her question was a good one. In fact, it was the exact same question I always want to ask other authors and illustrators. It’s why I’m always excited to meet them. I want to know: How do you do that thing that you do? Where do you get your ideas? And how do you get those ideas to swirl together perfectly so you can use them?
Usually I can’t trace a book all the way back to that first glimmer of an idea. It’s too complicated and messy—like trying to unravel wool that you’ve given to a kitten.
But with Bean Dog and Nugget, things are different. I know exactly how, where, and why I got the idea, and it all started five years ago.
My children used to be picky eaters. One of them still is, but I won’t embarrass him by saying his name. When she was six, my daughter Ivy loved chicken nuggets, and my son Luther (three) lived for hot dogs. So that year, as a Christmas present, I made them each a stuffed friend. And so Hot Dog and Chicken Nugget were born. The kids liked them, but not as much as me. I loved these little characters and promptly displayed them in my dining room. The kids didn’t seem to mind them sitting on a shelf out of reach, their other toys were more fun to play with anyway.
So Hot Dog and Chicken Nugget sat there for years, watching our little family, until one day I was inspired. At the time I was new to blogging and filled with blogging energy. It’s a great stage for creativity, and I wanted to try something different, so I started a Hot Dog and Chicken Nugget blog. It was a chronicle of unrequited love—a chicken nugget in love with a hot dog.
Working on the blog was fun, rewarding and stimulating, but it was also time consuming! All the drawing, and photographing, and setting up of the characters took forever. If it had been my only job I would’ve been fine, but I had books to write, deadlines to meet, and lunches to make—it was too much. In the end, I couldn’t keep up, and so I stopped—mid-romance. Chicken Nugget and Bean Dog retired from fame, and went back into their old spots on the shelf.
Over the next few years, I tried to fit them into a story, but I could never make it work. I’ve come to realize, that if a book is a struggle from page one, it’s probably wise to give it up. Wanting an idea to be good, and having it be good are two very different things.
But they were there in my head, waiting, and then one day I found my story. I was outside working in my backyard yard, trying to keep my plants alive when I got the glimmer.
Can I do an aside here, just a quick tangent? It’s for the story, to give you perspective on my gardening skills. I’ll be fast, I promise.
This is what my daughter said last week, when I brought home spring plants for my garden.
Now, back to the story. So I’m in the yard coaxing and begging things not to die, when I hear my son and his friend engaged in a not-so-friendly exchange. It seems there was a ball, and now the ball is in the bushes, and neither of them wants to retrieve it. The “You get it!” “No, you get it!” makes me smile. It’s one of those I-hope-I-remember-the-kids-like-this moments.
A few days later I was at my son’s school, in the library, looking for an easy comic book for him to read. At the time he was a very reluctant reader, and not at all interested in books. Isn’t that always the way? Author and lover of books has child who hates reading.
This was all happening two years ago, and in the easy comic book genre there weren’t many choices, certainly not like today. The school librarian and I talked about it, and I left with a purpose. I was going to make a comic book for my son to read! I was a mom with a mission. The next day as I was getting ready to start, everything suddenly came together—my tornado of creativity, the right pen, and my favorite paper—it was perfect. I love when that happens. And so BEAN DOG AND NUGGET was born.
Once I got started, it was an easy book to write, but I don’t feel guilty about saying that, because in truth I’d been working on it for over five years.
I like epilogues, because it’s always nice to know what happens in the end. I dedicated BEAN DOG AND NUGGET to my son and his friend, and when the first book arrived I made a big deal of it and showed them the dedication. Do you know what happened? I was imagining some kind of payback, perhaps something like, “Oh thank you for putting my name in the book,” but I was wrong. They ignored me completely, and instantly started arguing and pointing to the Nugget character on the cover. “You’re the girl! “No, you’re the girl!” “No, you’re the girl!” “No, you’re the girl!” It wasn’t the response I was expecting, but it was perfect. It was full circle, and the exact kind of scenario that had inspired me in the first place. I listened to them and smiled. Silly boys, I knew something they didn’t. Nugget is the smart one.
Thanks to Charise for sharing Bean Dog and Nugget’s journey from shelf to bookshelf!
Both books release today, and as a special treat, Charise is giving away THREE prize packs which include both signed books and supplies to make your own Bean Dog and Nugget paper puppets.
Just leave a comment about your favorite part of her making-of-the-story story!
Winners will be randomly selected in about a week. Good luck!
In the meantime, learn about all of Charise’s books at ChariseHarper.com.
What draws friends together? Is it that you both love the same music or flavor of ice cream? Or is it that you make each other laugh? Friends understand one another, love spending time together and make each other happy. Kids -- even young kids -- totally get this. And they're going to love Odd Duck, a new graphic novel that celebrates friendship, with all its quirks and eccentricities.
by Cecil Castellucci
and Sara Varon
First Second, 2013
ages 6 - 10
at your local library
* best new book *
Theodora swims with a teacup balanced on her head, flavoring her meals with mango salsa, and stays put for the winter. She knows exactly what she likes and is happy with everything going as planned.
When Chad moves next door, Theodora is not quite sure about this new duck. His feathers are askew, he has strange sculptures in his yard, and absolutely no manners! "Theodora could not relate to a single thing that he said. But she knew one thing was certain ... she and Chad would not
Castellucci and Varon develop this delightful story from here, showing how the two bond over their love of stars, but then fall apart over an argument over which one is odd. The illustrations are charming -- quirky, sweet and sunny. Kids will love the way the two friends come back together in the end, realizing that they really do like each other just the way they are.
Here's what my nine-year-old wrote:
"Of course, every duck can't be perfect, but these ducks are more than just not perfect. They're odd. And in this book both of them have never had a true friend, so they are put up to the challenge to make a true friend."
Kids do get it. They understand what it means to be a true friend. Odd Duck
will make them laugh, smile and remember how much they value their own friends.
I really enjoyed reading this interview with Cecil Castellucci in the LA Times
. It was also really interesting to read about Sara Varon's process creating the artwork, in this guest post at the First Second blog
. Cecil originally proposed this as an early chapter book with spot art, but when the two began working together they realized that it might be even more effective told primarily through pictures.
Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Sara Varon, shared with permission of the publisher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, First Second / Macmillan. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.Review ©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books
"No, they're mine! They live in My room!"
This was the conversation that ensued when it came time to pick a shelf space for the two Astronaut Academy books by Dave Roman, the second of which, Astronaut Academy Re-Entry (First Second, May 15, 2013) was read about five times each in five days by my two boys (nine and twelve).
I would have solved the problem by putting them on my own shelves, if I kept graphic novels in my bedroom. They are that lovable. They are also very funny--both the words and the pictures. And they are also very good value for your money. Not only are they eminently re-readable, but even a fast-reading adult (ie me) will take at least an hour to savor every page the first time through (I didn't let my eyes glide over any of the pictures. I didn't want to miss anything).
On one level, these books deliver sci-fi fun of a very wacky sort. The setting is, after all, Astronaut Academy, where students arrive in robot-cat like school bus in space. There are robots and other high-tech accouterments. There is also a character who is a ninja bunny, and the mysterious Senor Panda. There's the very sci-fi game of Fireball, that plays a major role in the events of Astronaut Academy, and lots lots more.
But what there also is, even more so, is characters to love. From Hakata Soy, the central protagonist, to the kids on Team Feety Pajamas (who spend most of their time in the library, ostensibly Evil, but actually not so much), to the shy, the geek, the sporty kids who make up the gloriously fascinating and diverse student body, there is someone for just about anyone to relate too and sympathize with.
And so the central story line of Astronuat Academy Re-Entry
isn't the Fireball excitement, the way Hakata makes peace with his Past, or even the defeat of the heart stealing fiendish monster from space. Nope, the central story line follows the emotional arcs of lots of kids as they navigate the world of school and friendship and parental expectations (at a wacky school in space, but still universal). And my heart goes out to them all.
(Here at Tor
, you can see nice several pages of the book, staring one of my favorite characters, Thalia Thistle, playing fireball. And some of the heart eating monster stuff).
It's not a straight-forward, linear progression of story--it's told from multiple points of view. And things don't necessarily make Sense, especially if you haven't read the first book. This might make it not a book for everyone. But who cares about sense, says I, when you are given a combination of words that read themselves out loud in your head and pictures that make you smile like crazy?
Plus dinosaur cars. I loved them in the first book, and I was getting worried that they weren't going to be in this book. But they are.
Here's my review of book 1
--Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity.
disclaimer: review copy received very happily indeed from the publisher.
It's a busy month for Tanita and I, this merry month of May, so we've decided to feature a couple of guest posts and interviews over the next few days--on the 8th, we're part of Shana Mlawski's blog tour, and today, we're proud to be part of the... Read the rest of this post
Poseidon: Earth Shaker
(First Second, March, 2013) is the fifth of the Greek gods to get his own graphic novel, in the stellar series written and illustrated by George O'Connor.
The series as a whole is an extraordinarily kid-friendly introduction to the Greek pantheon, and although I wouldn't recommend starting with Poseidon, this latest volume is a fine addition to the series.
It's somewhat episodic, beginning with the division of the cosmos between the three main gods (Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon), with Poseidon revelling in his new dominion over the sea. The stories of Odysseus and how he outwitted the Cyclopedian (Cyclopsian?) son of Poseidon, and Theseus, another son, come next, followed by the story of the contest between Poseidon and Athena over Athens. The story concludes with a flashback back to the early struggles between the gods and the Titans, emphasizing the overall theme of the book--Poseidon's conflict between the joy he takes in his dominion of the sea, and his sense that somehow he has been wronged.
Though this is a kid-friendly series, it's not something I'd give to a kid younger than ten or so--there are "adult themes" as is so often the case when one deals with the Greek gods...But for the older, perhaps reluctant reader, this series is a spot-on introduction to the stories--the pictures are powerful and utterly memorable (true for all the books, but I think in this book they are particularly compelling, what with all the ocean action opportunities provided by the subject matter), swinging the events along very nicely indeed. Adding value for teachers, and written in a manner engaging enough for the curious young reader, there's interesting back-matter included as well.
(review copy received from the publisher)
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Indie Comics
, Top News
, ACA Residency
, comics journalism
, Graphic Novels
, Jess Ruliffson
, Joe Bonham Project
, non-fiction comics
, Studio YOLO
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Jess Ruliffson is an illustrator and non-fiction graphic novelist, increasingly wearing the hat of a comics-medium journalist. She’s working on a graphic novel based on interviews with veterans of the war in Iraq and conflicts in Afghanistan for the Joe Bonham Project, giving wounded vets a chance to tell their own stories of trauma and resilience (as seen above). Ruliffson took part in the Atlantic Center for the Arts Residency in October 2012 and became one of the founding members of Studio YOLO, a confederacy of artists who pose monthly comics-drawing challenges. Her art work is heavily based on realism in line-drawing, but also possesses a unique stillness and reflective quality suited to personal narratives, either her own or drawn from shared stories. You can view her ongoing work at both her website and blogspot.
Looking for a graphic novel that will make you giggle? Check out ASTRONAUT ACADEMY: Re-Entry by Dave Roman. This series follows the hijinks of students enrolled in a school in outer space. And we're talking highly funny hijinks: shapeshifters that will steal your heart (literally), time travel, detention, a bilingual panda, heartbreak, robots, and Fireball, a game that resembles lacrosse and Quidditch, but with FIRE. And there's a competition montage. This story is so ready to be made into an animated film.
I laughed out loud several times while reading this book, which includes subtle pop culture references as well as different characters' definitions of OTP. Yes, you read that correctly. At one point, someone goes "Squee!" Then there's this exchange between two characters:
"Labels can't define who we are on the inside."
"Are you being sarcastic?"
"Only if you want me to be."
"I [heart] sarcasm. (No, seriously.)"
The cast of characters is multicultural, which is delightful. Roman's black-and-white-and-gray illustrations clearly show kids with different skin colors, different hair styles, and different fashion senses. Some are shy, some are outspoken. Some are bullies, some are friends. A few are spies. A few are ninjas. Did I mention there's also a raccoon or two, a rabbit or two, and that this is book two in the line? Read the ASTRONAUT ACADEMY graphic novels in order:
#1 Zero Gravity
I just dropped by Dave's blog to see what's new, and I discovered that he's signing copies of his books for his local bookstore, WORD, which is also holding a really cool contest. Want to get an Astronaut Academy-style portrait of yourself (or a friend), hanging out with the character of your choice? Click here to learn more.
ASTRONAUT ACADEMY: Re-Entry will be available May 14th, 2013 from :01 First Second Books.
Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Interview: Dave Roman
Graphic Novel Review: Teen Boat!
TOON Books offers 11 of their titles for FREE online viewing. AWESOME for young readers, these books have a Read to Me option for younger kids, too. I love TOON.
The TOON library is all part of Professor Garfield's website
. (That's Garfield, as in the orange cat?) Check it out. It looks like fun.
Reader Gut Reaction: When the cheerleaders and the geeks team up to try to solve a school group funding problem together, WHAT could possibly go wrong? That fabulous title ends up proving itself apt again and again throughout this hilarious and... Read the rest of this post
Book: Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain: Lunch Lady #9
Author: Jarrett J. Krosoczka (@studiojjk)
Age Range: 7-10
Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain is the ninth in Jarrett J. Krosoczka's Lunch Lady series of graphic novels. There is a lot going on in this installment. The main plotline involves Lunch Lady and Betty investigating a rash of technology thefts from around the school (including Hector's X-Station Mobile). This is set against Hector's battle with bully Milmoe in the election for class president. Milmoe has mysteriously deep-pocketed support, and his friends discover that an enemy from a previous book may be involved. Meanwhile, Principal Hernandez is concerned about an upcoming tour of the school by the new, reform-minded superintendent, a tour which turns out not to bode well for our heroic Lunch Lady. The book ends on a cliffhanger regarding Lunch Lady's future.
In Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain, Krosoczka spends a bit more time on plot, and a bit less time on cafeteria-themed inventions than the previous books in the series. Or so it seemed to me. There is a "Crazy-Straw Earpiece", but the spork phone is missing in action. There are also, instead, various other, more traditional, forms of technology mentioned (many of them missing), like "the latest ePad" and a "stepometer."
However, the book still has the same feel that young readers will expect. Milmoe is still a bully, surrounded by sycophants. He says things like:
"HA! That twerp? The only thing he can beat is the latest video game of "Nofriendo"!"
There's a funny scene in which Lunch Lady and Betty set up a sting operation, and tumble out of a locker. There is byplay with the grouchy janitor, and a battle with a villain near the end of the book. It's all vintage Lunch Lady, albeit with slightly fewer gadgets, and slightly more continuing plotlines. I think that young fans will enjoy it. I know I did. Recommended!
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
FTC Required Disclosure:
This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).
© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.
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I don't believe that I've ever mentioned this before, but my grandmother worked as a school lunch lady when my father and my uncles were young. She was always quite proud of that fact. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why I enjoy Jarrett Krosoczka's Lunch Lady series so much (see my reviews here, here, here, here, and here). Certainly this is one of the reasons why I am pleased by the idea of dedicating a day to honor school lunch ladies. Yes, that's right. Jarrett Krosoczka, Random House, and the School Nutrition Association are celebrating School Lunch Superhero Day this Friday, May 3rd.
Here are some quick tidbits about the event (from Random House):
Jarrett’s very own
School Lunch Superhero, Jean Cariglia, inspired his Lunch Lady series. When
Jarrett visited his school after the first book was published, he was astounded
to see how much this recognition meant to Jean. This, and other acts of
kindness he has seen while touring for the series, planted the seed for School
Lunch Superhero Day.
TO CELEBRATE: The SchoolLunchSuperheroDay.com
website has all kinds of activities to help schools celebrate – games,
activities, valentines, you name it!
- TEDx: Besides creating a really innovative take on
superheroes, Jarrett is also a really amazing individual. Last Fall, he was
invited to present a TEDx talk. His talk has over 500,000 combined views and is
really inspirational. See the video here.
- THAT'S A LOT OF FOOD: School
nutrition professionals feed 31 million students every day.
LUNCH LADY: LUNCH
LADY AND THE VIDEO GAME VILLAIN is on sale now. This is an action-packed
graphic novel series with fun food-related gadgets. The series is great for
Check out the SchoolLunchSuperheroDay website, as well as Jarrett's recent post on the subject at The Nerdy Book Club. And, this Friday, consider toasting my grandma with some cafeteria-style tater tots (if they still serve those).