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1. Why I Still Write Query Letters

Why I Still Write Query Letters

I was on an author panel at the 2015 Denver Comic Con this summer and mentioned that though I was thrilled with my agent, I missed writing query letters. Another author agreed with me, at which point mega author Jim Butcher turned to us and said “I think there’s something wrong with you.” That may very well be the case—I personally think that’s true for all writers—but I still adore queries. It’s part of why I gave away tons of free query critiques in celebration when I got my agent, and why I now offer query critiques as a service on my website.

Amalie Howard and Me

         (Author Amalie Howard and I at Denver Comic Con)

          So why do I still write a query letter before I start each book? Aside from the sheer fun of it (I’m not kidding so I guess there is something wrong with me), whether I’m writing a sequel or a standalone, the query gives me a rough outline of where I’m going and tells me whether the book has all of the elements it needs to come together. As a former panster, the query used to serve as my sole outline before diving into the actual writing. Now that I’ve incorporated a little more planning into my pants-ting, the query is still the first thing I create before I even do a general outline. A great query gives you the essence of the book and highlights the core conflict and stakes that are at risk. My editor for BURN OUT liked my query so much that he ended up using most of it as the book jacket copy. So even though I’m traditionally published, I’m starting to dabble in indie publishing (post coming soon about an exciting collaboration and new book in 2016), and a query is a great tool for creating compelling cover copy.

Also, if you’re struggling with the query, it’s a good indicator that there’s an issue with the story itself, and you’ve saved yourself a truckload of time by starting with the query rather than writing the whole book and THEN figuring out there’s a problem.

Here is the original query I sent for BURN OUT which got multiple offers from agents. It’s not perfect but incorporates the basic elements I emphasize when I provide query critiques.


Dear _______,

BURN OUT is a sci-fi YA complete at 60,000 words. The book can stand alone but is planned to be part of a trilogy. I hope you will consider it for representation.

When the sun begins to burn out years ahead of schedule, most people end up dead. They’re the lucky ones. Seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds, one of Earth’s last inhabitants, soon discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.

Holed up in an underground shelter, Tora is alone—her brilliant scientist father murdered, her mother and sister burned to death. She dreams of living on a planet with oceans, plants, and animals. Unfortunately, the oceans dried out ages ago, the only plants are giant cacti with deadly spines, and her pet, Trigger, is a gun—one of the bio-energetic weapons her father created for the government before his conscience kicked in.

When family friend, Markus, arrives with hired guns to take the weapons by force, Tora’s fury turns to fear when government ships descend in an attempt to kill them all. She forges an unlikely alliance with Markus and his rag-tag group of raiders, including a smart but quiet soldier named James. Tora must choose between saving herself by giving up the guns or honoring her father’s request to save humanity from the most lethal weapons in existence.     

I went on to provide a brief paragraph about myself but as I had never been published and had no awards, etc., it was very, very brief. :)

What I’m Working on Now:

After completing a short story for a cool project coming in 2016, I’m now working on a YA Thriller that I’m really excited about. And yes, I keep the query for this new manuscript open in a tab on my computer and refer back to it periodically as I’m writing. I’m still not a huge outliner, so this one page document keeps me on track and lets me know if I’m wandering too far from the main conflict. I’d love to hear from you as to whether you love queries or have a more love/hate relationship with them, and if you still write them even after you’ve published a book. If you simply want to validate that there is something wrong with me, keep that to yourself. 😉

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2. Recap: Diversity at New York Comic Con

This past weekend, we noticed an unusual number of superheroes, cosplayers, and characters from our favorite TV shows flooding thesubways, buses, and streets of New York City. Did we unknowingly fall into an alternate universe?

Turns out that it was just New York Comic Con, the annual pop culture phenomenon dedicated to comics, graphic novels, anime, video games, movies, and television. The first convention was held in 2006 and it has continued to grow steadily over the past several years, bringing an ever-growing number of comics and pop-culture fans to New York City. And not only has Comic Con continued to grow, but so has programming dedicated to issues of diversity and diverse creators. We were lucky enough to get a pass for LEE & LOW staff. Below, three staff members share their highlights from the show:

new york comic con 2015

Keilin, Marketing and Publicity Associate

Oh Comic Con. What a crazy event to go to, but definitely worth every minute!

I went to a Geeks of Color Meetup, hosted by Diana Pho (editor, Tor Books), and featuring Shelley Diaz (editor, School Library Journal), and author Melissa Grey (The Girl At Midnight). It was great to mingle with other “geeks” and to get to know Diana and Shelley.

Sailor Moon at the Geeks of Color Meetup

The greatest thing about the Meetup was seeing the diversity in the room. There was one group of people that I joined that was talking about the new Star Wars movie coming out, and it didn’t matter that we were all from different backgrounds because we all could geek out about something we were all collectively excited for. Diana often hosts these types of meetups for people of color, and if anyone is interested, you can contact her on her website, Beyond Victoriana.

After the Geeks of Color Meetup, I booked it over to the Asian American Comics and Creators panel, which unfortunately was full. On the positive side, that just meant that there was a full house to participate in a discussion on Asian Americans in the comic book industry. While the depictions of Asian Americans in comic books has improved, there is more that can still be done.

The thing I like most about conventions like these is that it shows you the wide spectrum of people within fandoms, whether it’s seeing a black Wonder Woman or an Asian Peggy Carter. Nerding out is for everyone!

Rebecca, Marketing and Publicity Assistant

Thanks to things like the We Need Diverse Books campaign, diversity has been on people’s minds more than ever before. Last year, we saw one of the most diverse television seasons we’ve gotten in a while. It’s no surprise that diversity in comics and geek culture was on a lot of people’s minds at New York Comic Con! I attended 4 panels focused on various aspects of diversity at the show this year.

The “Chicks Kick Ass” panel

At the Pushing Boundaries panel, there was a discussion about representation. Author Marjorie Liu spoke about the burden that authors of color often face when they are the only ones representing entire cultures. They have to make sure that their characters are “perfect” and not stereotypical; however, trying to tell a “perfect” story gets in the way of an authentic narrative. This is the danger of a single story: one person from a marginalized or underrepresented group can’t represent everyone from that group.

Some of the other panelists, like Jeremy Whitley, the creator of Princeless, spoke about using their work to fill a need. Jeremy Whitley’s daughter is a person of color, so he wanted to write a comic where a young black girl would see herself as a princess that went on adventures. Geek Out was started as a space for LGBT+ fans of comics. At one point in the discussion, the panelists spoke about bad representation. Is bad representation better than no representation? There was no clear answer, as one panelist said he preferred bad representation to none at all. But author Marjorie Liu said, “As a woman of color, I’m allergic to bad representation.”As a woman of color ComicCon II

The pervading feeling at the “Geeks of Color: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” panel was that while people are paying more attention to diversity and things with diverse content, we still have a long way to go. Industries need to diversify from within as well as to seek out diverse creators. Diversity naturally happens when there are a variety of people creating things.

Authors Melissa Gray, Daniel Jose Older, Sara Raasch, and Kim Harrison discussed what made the protagonists of their novels “kick ass.” Melissa Grey (The Girl at Midnight) discussed how female characters are never allowed to be unlikable, like male characters often are. They’re usually expected to be “nice.” Daniel José Older wants his books to show the diversity in Brooklyn, because a book should be like a friend and tell you the truth.

At the Women in Geek Media panel, the panelists encouraged the room full of people to create their own works. Everyone, they told us, has a unique story to tell. Many of the women talked about having to create their own spaces and writing with a unique voice, which is what made them stand out. They also encouraged everyone there who was fed up with the lack of representation of women, people of color, and other marginalized groups in media to channel their anger thoughtfully and to hold content creators accountable.

All the panels I attended were full almost to capacity. It was great to see how much people are clamoring for more diverse representation. But the real highlight of Comic Con was meeting Amandla Stenberg!

Amandla Stenberg and artist Ashley A. Woods (“Niobe: She Is Life”) with Marketing & Publicity Assistant Rebecca Garcia!

Stacy, Publisher of TU BOOKS

On Thursday night of Comic Con, I went to the #BlackComicsMonth panel moderated by Dean MizCaramelVixen. It was an all-star lineup, including Chad L. Coleman (who played Tyreese on The Walking Dead), who is producing a new comic that stars his likeness, and comics artists and writers Scott Snyder, David Walker, Mikki Kendall, Shawn Pryor, Steve Orlando, Christine Dinh, Mildred Louis, Jeremy Whitley, and Afua Richardson. If you want to see the whole panel, you can view it on YouTube.

The panel started out by talking to a standing-room-only crowd of at least 300 people about what “diversity” meant to them. Christine Dinh spoke about how there are more young women reading comics—that kids are more diverse than ever. Another panelist talked about how what it means to be black could mean so many different things, and that all those representations were important—that there is no one way to be black.

Everyone on the panel emphasized how important the voices of people of color are in comic books. Kendall said, “If you don’t see yourself out there, put your stuff out there.”

“Fangirls Lead the Way” panel

Later that night was a fangirl panel (“She Made Me Do It: FanGirls Lead the Way”) discussing how important women are not only in the creation of art but also in the appreciation of it. On the panel were Jamie Broadnax, who created Black Girl Nerds; Rose Del Vecchio and Jenny Cheng from myfanmail.com, a site that sends fandom products to subscribers; and Sam Maggs, author of The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy and writer for The Mary Sue.

One of the main topics of the panel was discussing how women and girls get challenged to show their “credentials” as geeks. “I’m so over the cred thing. You don’t have to prove anything to show your passion for fandom,” Broadnax said. Maggs agreed and went on to discuss how those fans should also be reflected in the stories they consume, saying, “A range, diversity of stories can only mean better content for everyone. Why can’t white dudes look up to a black girl protagonist and have her be their role model?”Why can't white dudes ComicCon

On Sunday, the We Need Diverse Books panel focused on the hashtag #IAmNotYourSidekick, discussing the importance of narratives that center the experiences of characters of color. On a personal note, the panelists discussed the first time they’d ever seen a “mirror” of themselves in a book. Some never did, at least until adulthood. Dhonielle Clayton, a Harlem Academy librarian and WNDB VP of librarian services, mentioned that she had mirrors, but only about slavery and civil rights, not fun books. Variety in representations of marginalized people is so important, she said.

The panel also discussed the importance of opening doors for writers of color, talking about the quotas of some houses (“we already have our ‘black book,’” even if the topics are completely different), and how writing cross-culturally is possible to do well, but how it must be done responsibly. Daniel José Older pointed out that too often white writers want to jump on the bandwagon of “diversity” as if it were a trend, but, he asked, “We talk about writing the other, but can you write about yourself? Can we write about whiteness?” (Older wrote an excellent article on this topic last year at BuzzFeed.)

Everyone on the panel agreed that the way to fix the problem was to talk up diverse books. “Buy diverse books!” YA author Robin Talley said. “The more you do, the more there will be.” Older also noted not to assume that a traditionally published book that stars a diverse character will have a million-dollar marketing campaign. “It likely won’t!” he said. Panelists agreed that word of mouth is one of the most important marketing tools for diverse books—sharing them with friends, talking about them on social media, and requesting them from libraries and bookstores were all mentioned as important methods of helping diverse books grow in the market.

From the #IAmNotYourSidekick panel

To see pictures from Comic Con, check out the TU BOOKS Facebook page and the LEE & LOW Facebook page.

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3. Salt Lake Comic Con 2015: M.K. Hutchins & Valynne E. Maetani’s schedules

This weekend is the Salt Lake Comic Con (September 24-September 26). Tu Books authors M.K. Hutchins (DRIFT) and Valynne E. Maetani (INK AND ASHES) will be in attendance.

See their schedules below.

M.K. Hutchins

Friday, September 25

2:00pm – 2:50 pm Pacing and Plotting in YA Fiction Room 235A

Saturday, September 26

1:00 – 1:50 pm Live Plotting: Build a Story Room 255F.

See her schedule here.

Valynne E. Maetani

Thursday September 24, 2015

3:00 – 3:50 pm The Legacy of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra Room 250A

4:00 – 4:50 pm Why We Love Nintendo Room 255C

Friday September 25, 2015

11:00 – 12:00 pm Valynne Maetani Book Signing Shadow Mountain – Booth 1401

1:00 – 1:50 pm The Universality of Hayao Miyazaki’s Storytelling Room 255E

7:00 – 7:50 pm The Truth is Still Out There: The Return of the X- Files Room 255C

Saturday September 26, 2015

4:00 – 4:50 pm The Muppets: Why They Still Matter to Lovers, Dreamers, and Us Room 255E

See a copy of her schedule here.



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4. DMC No. 1 Arrives: Biff! Boff! Boom!

Felipe Smith/Darryl Makes Comics

Felipe Smith/Darryl Makes Comics

Hip-hop pioneer Darryl McDaniels, a founding member of Run-DMC, who turned to comics for courage as a kid facing bullies in Hollis, Queens, has created a new superhero who takes the stage in DMC No. 1, the first in a new series of comic books from Darryl Makes Comics.

McDaniels told George Gene Gustines of the New York Times:

“I was a kid who had my lunch money taken away. …To get to my house was terror. Spider-Man took me to a place where everything was great. …Comic books were educational — they were empowering but also inspiring.

“I always wanted to do something with integrity. I didn’t want to be another rapper messing up another genre just because he has a hit record.”

Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, editor in chief of Darryl Makes Comics, noted the attention from a diverse fan base the comic book DMC was garnering at conventions like the recent Comic Con in Manhattan. “It’s Asian, it’s white, it’s Latino, it’s black, it’s 13-year-olds, it’s 63-year-olds.”

Bringing his vision DMC to the page, McDaniels worked with a team including Miranda-Rodriquez, Atlantic Records executive Riggs Morales, and story consultants Damion Scott and Ron Wimberly. The artists who bring DMC to life are Sal Buscema, Carlos Rodriquez aka Mare 139, Chase Conley, Jeff Stokely, Felipe Smith, Mark and Mike Davis aka The Madtwiinz, Shawn Crytal, Chris Sotomayor, and Deron Bennett.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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5. Recap: Diversity Panels at New York Comic Con 2014

Stacy Whitman photoStacy Whitman, Publisher of the Tu Books imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, gives us a recap of the 2014 New York Comic Con (NYCC) event and two big panels on diversity.

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #geeksofcolor hashtags were well represented at Comic Con this year, with three panels discussing diversity and several more panels where the subject came up. Publishers were showcasing their diverse titles among their frontlist promotions. And panels about diversity topics, even those held in large rooms at inconvenient times, were standing room only all weekend—a clear sign to me that this subject is on the minds of more and more people lately.

I missed the #WeNeedDiverse(Comic)Books panel, but you can see a recap of it here. Read on for recaps of the panels I attended:

Geeks of Color Go Pro panel

I arrived early, wanting to be able to get a good seat, and only two people were waiting in line—which made me nervous. Last year, the Geeks of Color panel was packed full. Would they repeat that this year the 8pm Thursday time slot, which admittedlywas less than ideal?

I needn’t have worried. Soon the room filled to capacity, perhaps 400-500 people, mostly people of color who were fans, interested in writing or illustrating themselves, or who had family members interested. Diana Pho, an editor at Tor, moderated the panel. Panelists were LeSean Thomas (BLACK DYNAMITE: THE ANIMATED SERIES; THE LEGEND OF KORRA; THE BOONDOCKS), Tracey J. John (MTV.com; Gameloft), Alice Meichi Li (Dark Horse), Daniel José Older (Author, HALF-RESSURECTION BLUES); and I. W. Gregorio (Author, #WeNeedDiverseBooks).

Geeks of color go pro panel

from L to R: Diana Pho, LeSean Thomas, Alice Meichi Li, Daniel José Older, I.W. Gregorio, and Tracey J. John

Most of the time was taken with each panelist sharing their story of how they went pro. Their answers for how they became an animator, a writer and editor, an illustrator, a video game writer, and a surgeon and writer were as diverse as the panelists themselves, showing how many paths there are to a professional creative career. For example, Boondocks and Legend of Korra animator LeSean Thomas grew up in the projects and never attended college, but instead got into comics because the materials to draw were pretty cheap, he said. He found opportunities when he showed his work to his boss at a sports store where he worked after high school, and learned as he worked his way up.

Daniel José Older, on the other hand, was a paramedic and antiracist organizer. Getting published took him six years. “The publishing industry will make you learn patience,” he said.

I.W. Gregorio wanted to become a writer but followed the path to becoming a doctor because that was what one did in her family. But one day, someone told her, “you’ll never become a writer,” and that, she said, ticked her off enough to want to prove them wrong. She also mentioned that her job as a surgeon makes her writing career possible and gives her stories to tell.

Others spoke of internships, art classes, balancing day jobs, getting master’s degrees, and community building.

Tracey John, when asked what she wished she knew when she began, said that she wished she had known to challege the status quo. Now, she’s more willing to ask tough questions, she said—such as “why does Princess Peach need saving?”

Older suggested that writers of color need to “reimagine what success means for each of us” and to build community “rather than think of it as networking.” For people who are getting started, he suggested to find people who are willing to ground you and challenge you.

Alice Meichi Li said that “you are an average of the five people you interact with most in your life,” so look for people who fit three categories: an older mentor, an equal, and someone you can mentor, because you learn a lot from teaching.

The big question of the night came from one of the last audience members to ask a question: Why are we still having this conversation? When will we not need a geeks of color panel at 8:00pm in the corner? Diana Pho replied that she thinks we’ll need such panels until we hit critical mass—not just at Comic Cons, but in all of pop culture, of people who believe diversity matters. We here at LEE & LOW agree with Older’s concluding remark: the more people speak up, the less circular the conversation will be, and we can push the conversation forward.

Women of Color in Comics panel

Friday was the Women of Color in Comics panel, which I was thrilled to see was an equally packed room. Moderated by Regine Sawyer of the Women in Comics Consortium, this panel also featured Alice Meichi Li (Dark Horse), Alitha Martinez (penciler and inker for Marvel), Jamila Rowser (Girl Gone Geek blog), Juliana ‘Jewels’ Smith (comics artist, (H)AFROCENTRIC), Barbara Brandon-Croft (cartoonist), Geisha Vi (cosplay model), and Vanessa Verduga (actor, writer, producer).

A packed audience for the Women of Color in Comics panel

A packed audience for the Women of Color in Comics panel

From L to R:

From L to R: Geisha Vi, Barbara Brandon-Croft, Jamila Rowser, Vanessa Verduga, Alice Meichi Li, Juliana ‘Jewels” Smith, Alitha Martinez, Regine Sawyer

The moderator, Regine, started out by asking what drew the panelists to comics and how they got started. Again, a diverse range of answers—from family influence to students introducing their teacher to comics, to a natural desire to draw as a child—led to a diverse range of paths into their professional work.

The panel also discussed the ongoing harassment issue in comics as well as genre and gaming. Young women are the fastest growing demographic, changing the base of the comics industry. The panelists were asked how they address feminine issues in their work. Alice Meichi Li (who was on the Geeks of Color panel), said that she loved how panels such as these were getting bigger. She addresses feminine mythology, the heroine’s journey, in her work, and argued that visibility made all the difference for readers. She told a story of reading Wizard magazine growing up, where the list of top ten writers in the back of the magazine were all white guys every time, except occasionally Jim Lee. To be able to see all kinds of people creating comics helps create demand from more diverse readers.

Jamila Rowser from the Girl Gone Geek blog said that from a fan perspective, the changing face of the industry shows the demand and the need for representation of women, particularly accurate representation of women of color. “When you don’t see people like you doing things you love, it’s discouraging,” she said.

The panelists also spoke of how sometimes they might feel invisible in the industry—Alitha Martinez, who has worked at major comic book houses as an artist, including work on a Batman comic, said that she’d been mistaken for cleaning staff before when arriving for a panel or other major professional event. Vanessa Verduga mentioned that sometimes she feels an expectation to whitewash herself, to fit within an expected personality structure rather than to be herself.

When asked why diversity was important in the first place, Jamila Rowser answered that a lack of diversity can stop readers’ enjoyment, but it can also discourage future creators, and stories set in the future with no diversity “erase our presence in the future.”

Alitha Martinez noted that women of color can’t remain on the fringes, shouting from the outside. She said that women tend not to approach editors at Marvel and DC, and that those are the places where change needs to happen most because they’re the biggest. In addition, Alice Meichi Li said that if we want to see change, as readers, we need to support that change with our wallets. “Ignoring creations by women and people of color is ignoring community,” she said. “Find your audience, know your community, know how to speak to them, and create your own niche.”

Throughout the weekend, I saw a widely diverse audience excited about comic books, animation, science fiction, fantasy, and games. Cosplayers were in abundance, including people of color. Here are a couple of my favorites:

baby captain america

iron man storm cosplay

Korra cosplay

NYCC is a great example of why #WeNeedDiverseBooks, like those we publish!

Filed under: Diversity 102, Diversity in YA, Diversity, Race, and Representation, Fairs/Conventions, recap post Tagged: Comic Con, comics, cosplay, NYCC

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6. Alice's Wonderland and Me

The past year has been a busy one for me, and the image above shows why. I researched and wrote Alice's Wonderland: A Visual Journey through Lewis Carroll's Mad, Mad World. It was a hoot and a half, especially getting to watch all the old and new Wonderland movies, TV shows, operas, and ballets that are out there. The book is due out on November 1st, so if you're at all interested in Alice and her gang, this is a shameless pitch to buy my book.

I received my advance copy last week, just in time for me to trot off to Toronto and give a presentation about the book to the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. My hubby and I had a blast there--Carrollians are a welcoming bunch--and I enjoyed listening to the other talks and going on a tour of the Toronto Public Library's fine collection of Alice memorabilia.

Here I am at the podium.

Tomorrow I'm off on another exciting adventure. I'll be at Comic Con in New York City, my old stomping grounds. You can read all about it at QGeekBooks. So if you happen to be at the Javits Center this Friday between 1 and 3, look me up. I'd love to meet you!

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7. Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Hi ho.  Time to round-up what Jules and I have been up to over at our Wild Things blog (book promotion for bloggers means more blogging, you see).  Here’s the long and short of what you may have missed:

Whew!  We’re busy little bees, aren’t we?

  • Tra la!  It’s coming!  The greatest conference of children’s and YA literary bloggers is coming!  And Liz Burns not only has the info but also the reason such an event is cool.  Quoth she: “What I love about KidLitCon is it’s about the bloggers. Full stop. That is the primary purpose and mission of KidLitCon. It’s about what the bloggers care about. Oh, there may be authors and publishers there, presenting, and that can be great and amazing. But it’s not about them. They are there to support the blogging community: they are not there saying, what can the blogging community do for us.”  Amen, sister.  Preach!  By the way, the theme this year is Blogging Diversity in Young Adult and Children’s Lit: What’s Next?  Be there or be square.
  • So there’s a new Children’s Book Review Editor at the New York Times and by some strange quirk of fate her name is NOT alliterative (note Julie Just, Pamela Paul, and Sarah Smith).  Her name?  Maria Russo.  Which pretty much means I’ll be tracking her like a bloodhound at the next Eric Carle Honors event.  Trouble is, we don’t wear nametags at that event so I’ll probably be the crazy lady grabbing all the women, staring intently into their eyes.  Wouldn’t be the first time.

LewisTolkien 300x186 Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet. I blame Saving Mr. Banks.  One little children’s writer biopic comes out where the writer isn’t seen as all kittens and sunshine (I still loathe you Miss Potter and Finding Neverland) and all hell breaks loose.  Now we hear that McG is going to do a Shel Silverstein biopic on the one hand and that there are plans to examine the relationship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on the other.  I’m just counting the minutes until someone tackles Margaret Wise Brown or the whole Anne-Carroll-Moore-didn’t-like-Stuart-Little story (which you just KNOW is in the works somewhere).

  • Speaking of films, when I heard that Alan Snow’s delightful Here Be Monsters was being turned into a film called The Boxtrolls I was incredulous.  That book?  The one I couldn’t get kids to even look at until they made a blue paperback version?  I mean I liked it (it came out in a year when sentient cheese was all the rage in children’s literature) but how long was this film in production for crying out loud?  Doesn’t matter because according to iO9 it’s brilliant.  Good to know.
  • So Phil Nel, our ever intrepid professor with a hankering for children’s literature, went to ComicCon.  Best of all, he’s willing to report his findings to us (so that we don’t have to go!).  Read up on Part 1, Part 2 (my favorite for the cameo of Bananaman), Part 3, and Part 4.  Phil was there promoting his Barnaby books (which he co-edited with Eric Reynolds). These include Barnaby Volume One: 1942-1943 (2013) and Barnaby Volume Two: 1944-1945 (2014).
  • Did I know that Amanda Palmer wrote a song about what she owes to Judy Blume?  I do now.
  • This is what separates the true fangirls from the poseurs.  Thanks to the CBC for the link.
  • Two Little Free Libraries have sprung up near my home across the street from the Harlem branch of NYPL.  I couldn’t be more pleased because they mean just one thing to me . . . a place to give away my books!!!  Culling books is terribly enjoyable.  It’s also part of BookRiot’s incredibly useful post 8 Tips for Moving When You Have a Ton of Books.
  • Daily Image:

Two words. Bookish shoes.  My personal favorites include . . .

Little Prince Shoes Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Sherlock Shoes 500x335 Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Book Spine heels Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

Remember, by the way, that my sister told you how to make some of these yourself.  Thanks to Mom for the link.

share save 171 16 Fusenews: Hear the beat, of literary feet.

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8. Ypulse Essentials: McDonald’s Cuts Calories From Happy Meals, Big New From Comic Con, Foursquare Expands College Program

McDonald’s is revamping its happy meals (to make them healthier. Kids will find fewer fries, and a serving of fruit or veggies instead, lowering the overall calorie content by 20%. McDonalds had thought about cutting out the fries altogether... Read the rest of this post

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9. Comic Con Pictures!!!!

Okay, as promised--a full comic con update!!!


It's kind of hard to describe the insanity and chaos that is 120,000 hardcore fans/geeks crammed into an exhibit hall for four days, so I'm mostly going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

So...this was us on Friday...
(that's my: I can't believe I let him leave the room like this smile)
Rainbow Brite and Quail-Man

I usually don't post pics of the Hubs on here, but he was so ridiculously proud of his costume he gave me his permission (shoot--he requested it.) 
(though, I will admit, it was a VERY popular costume. He was definitely at one with the nerds)

At Marie Lu's signing
(where I got a signed ARC of LEGEND--Squee!)
@PenguinTeen even tweeted this photo (and FB'd it) so LOTS of people got to see it. Um...yay?

This might be my favorite picture:
 The hubs took it when people started handing me their children so they could get a picture with Rainbow Brite, and he was cracking up because he knows how much babies/toddlers scare me. It's not that I don't like kids. It's just that I have NO idea what to do with them when they're that young! WHAT IF THEY CRY OR SPIT UP ON ME???
(side note: what was UP with people trusting me with their children??? How did they know I wasn't a creeper?)
(I mean, I'm not. But still--they didn't KNOW that!)

And...Saturday's look: 
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10. New York Comic Con

Who’s going to New York Comic Con? We’re excited to be there for the first year, featuring Tu’s first three books! Make sure you stop by booth 2846 and say hi on your way to ogling slave Leias or taking pictures with Stormtrooper Elvis (or both). (Does Stormtrooper Elvis come to NYCC, or is he strictly a SDCC guy? I’m actually not sure.) I’ll be in the booth all day every day of the con, minus lunch breaks and some time to run around the show floor and attend a couple panels.

In fact, you should know that Galaxy Games series author Greg Fishbone will be dropping in on Saturday from 2-3.

Also, Tu’s books will be discounted at our booth, so come by for a good deal, too!

Originally published at Stacy Whitman's Grimoire. Please leave any comments there.

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11. Susan Lee: Artist, Filmmaker, All-Around Awesome

Susan Lee is a busy, creative person wears a lot of hats. (That's probably why we get along.) As a playwright, a filmmaker, a screenwriter, a teacher, and a painter, Susan has made her mark in many different fields. I know she's made her mark on me as a director and as a friend.

I recently interviewed her at length about her new graphic novel and webseries - both based on Mastermind by Michael Patrick Sullivan - as well as other projects she has lined up.

I thought readergirlz would like what she had to say about strong characters:

"What motivates me is when a piece speaks to me. As a director, it's always the language first. If something isn't well-written, I won't do it. [...] So I always want something that's smart and intelligent. Something that has characters who are complicated and rich. Characters you want to spend not just two hours with but want to take them home and make them dinner and dig even deeper into them. It has to make me want to explore why the characters are the way they are."

- and why she finds being a teacher so delightful:

"What I love about working with kids is how open and vulnerable they are. They're not afraid to tell you what they think. And when they grab on to something, they hold on for dear life. My favorite part is when they have a breakthrough and they achieve something they never thought they could. And to have them step back from their drawing or their painting and have them gasp in wonder at what they've created, there is not enough money in the world to compete with that. They astound me with their ability to create and with their openness and access to their emotions. They make very single day at work a pleasure and so very worthwhile."

Read our full-length interview at Bildungsroman! Share the link and help get the word about Susan's works so she can get an awesome publishing deal for the Mastermind graphic novel!

Important links...

Life On Its Side Productions: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Mastermind: Website | Webseries on YouTube | Facebook | Twitter

Susan's Blog: Diary of a Mid-Life Crisis

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12. Monthly Events Roundup: Ad Age Digital, Digital Kids Conference, Trend School

Today we’re bringing you our monthly roundup of cool youth media and marketing events you or colleagues from your company may want to attend. If your company hosts an event relevant to the youth media or marketing space that you’d like... Read the rest of this post

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13. Monthly Events Roundup: Millennial Mega Mashup, Mashable Connect, Streaming Media East

Today we’re bringing you our monthly roundup of cool youth media and marketing events you or colleagues from your company may want to attend. If your company hosts an event relevant to the youth media or marketing space that you’d like... Read the rest of this post

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14. jillthompson: Here’s a sneak preview of the little book of...


Here’s a sneak preview of the little book of paintings I will have at my table (1320) at San Diego Comic Con. 24 Full Color Postcards you can remove to send or frame as you choose! Or keep them all in the book! People have been asking if I sell my tiny paintings . Now everyone can have their own copy!

Ooooh jeeeeezz you guys!! Jill Thompson is selling these little books of her gorgeous paintings!

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15. Your Guide To Animation At Comic-Con International 2012

Less than a week remains until Comic-Con International begins in San Diego, and whether you’re a fan of animation, comics, fantasy novels, movies, or a little bit of everything, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for. Our own Jerry Beck will be at the convention as both a fan, a professional and a panelist for a number of events (see his post for details), but the animation excitement doesn’t stop there. We’ve pulled together a list of all of the panels, screenings and presentations related to animation so that attending Brew readers can navigate the halls of the gargantuan San Diego Convention Center and find their cartoon fix.

Take note: seating for all of the events listed below are on a first-come, first-served basis. Last year there were seventeen separate rooms hosting panels, with the seating ranging from small rooms with 280 seats to the largest at 6500 seats. As one Comic-Con traveler to another, I’d recommend showing up extra early for the panels you’re most interested in… and above all else, have fun!

Thursday, July 12

11:00-12:00 Nickelodeon: Butt Biting & Magical Mischief!— Meet series creator/executive producer Butch Hartman along with the casts from both The Fairly OddParents and T.U.F.F. Puppy, including Nick talent Jerry Trainor (iCarly) as Dudley Puppy. This year’s panel is totally interactive, with the fans interviewing the cast directly, plus a sneak peek from the Nickelodeon live-action movie A Fairly Odd Christmas, along with a chance to win prizes. On hand: Jerry Trainor (voice of Dudley), Tara Strong (voice of Timmy and Poof), Grey DeLisle (voice of Kitty and Vicky), Daran Norris (voice of Chief, Cosmo and Dad), Matt Taylor (voice of Snaptrap), Susanne Blakeslee (voice of Wanda and Mom), and Carlos Alazraqui (voice of Crocker). Moderated by Dana Cluverius, executive in charge for Nickelodeon. Room 7AB

11:00-12:00 Bongo Comics/United Plankton Sneak Peek— Bongo Comics and United Plankton Pictures offer a tantalizing preview of upcoming projects featuring The Simpsons, Futurama, SpongeBob SquarePants, and a few other surprises. Bongo’s creative director Nathan Kane, managing editor Terry Delegeane, and art director Jason Ho are joined by intern/fan favorite Louis Lane and Simpsons/Futurama-ologist Bill Morrison for a fun and informative free-for-all. Find out what’s in the future for Futurama Comics, what to surmise about Simpsons Comics, and what’s next for Bongo in the print world and beyond. Also, Chris Duffy, managing editor of United Plankton Pictures, will dish up some Krabby Patty-infused morsels of what’s to come in SpongeBob Comics. Room 9

11:00-12:00 Filmation and Lou Scheimer: Celebrating a Generation of Animation and TV Heroes— One of the most successful and groundbreaking television animation studios was Filmation, whose productions shaped Saturday mornings and daytime syndication from the 1960s to the 1980s. From Superman, Batman, and Aquaman to The Archies, from Fat Albert and the Groovie Goolies to the live-action Shazam! and Isis series, up to the groundbreaking

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16. Comic Con Day #0

I’m heading down to Comic Con right now and will be there tonight and for the next few days. In addition to funky old comics, here’s a couple of new items I’ll be looking for in the dealers room:

South Park designer and storyboard artist Greg Postma is sharing some space at booth #1223 with his fellow co-workers, selling a sketchbook compiling production sketches from the first 8 seasons of the show. The Bunker also includes samples of the artists own work. Finally the talent behind the show step out from behind the scenes. Can you buy it online? I’m not sure, but here’s the website associated with it.

When you work on kid shows all day, you’re bound to create something a bit dark. Nick, Sony and Dreamworks story artist Jeremy Bernstein has new book out in time for Comic Con. His sixth self published book in six years – Texts – takes drawings done in workshop and mashed them up with hand written text messages that were in his phone. Sounds strange, but Bernstein’s art is always worth the trip.

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17. Comic Con sights

Reasons I still go to Comic Con… to see stuff I can’t afford, but am delighted still exists. Here’s a few snaps from my iPhone:

A Scrappy booklet printed on fabric!

A one-page glossy flyer (not a magazine trade ad) sent to theater owners in 1954:

Disney is giving out these Oswald caps – and it seems like half the convention attendees are wearing them!

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18. More Comic Con finds

A last look at some of my coolest finds at the Con. And here’s a real winner: this unframed cel, found in a stack of MGM odds and ends.

The Con is over. I’m safely back at home. The event has forever turned into a Hollywood Mardi Gras, with an actual comics convention under the surface. And if you dig deep enough, you can still find stuff like this: a Barney Bear title card layout and a Rudolf Ising credit title cel (they happened to be one on top of another and I thought it looked good):

Or this original title card layout drawing for The Univited Pest (1943)

These boots are made for walking… in cycles! Someone was selling a pair of cool Hanna Barbera shoes from the 60s.

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19. Foodie Friday: Comic Con Edition

This week we caught up with Art Director Bob Lentz, recently returned from San Diego Comic Con. If there are two things Bob loves, its comics and food. So why not combine them in a special Foodie Friday interview? 


Q. What was the best meal you had at Comic-Con?
A. Sushi. It doesn't get much fresher than on the coast. However, the Korean BBQ street tacos I ate were equally as good. Loaded with spicy beef and kimchi, they were delicious. The cuisine in San Diego is varied, but you can never go wrong with tacos of any kind. Actually, you can never go wrong with tacos anywhere. In the world. Ever.

Q. According to your expertise, what do superheros like to eat?
A. Hostess Snack Cakes. Back in the 70s and 80s, comic books would always run these little comic strip advertisements of Spider-Man or Batman saving a group of kids and then they'd all enjoy a Twinkie or a Ho-Ho together. The strangest one I ever saw was I believe the Hulk or Spidey enjoying a Hostess Fruit Pie with Meatloaf (yes, THAT Meatloaf) after his concert. For real. You can't make it up.

Q. If Comic-Con 2012 was food, what food would it be and why?
A. Hmm. The easy answer would be goulash, because Comic-Con is a little bit of everything that popular culture has to offer, all blended into a very large 9x13 casserole dish. But if you want the hard facts, I would say that Nacho Cheese Doritos + Mountain Dew + Slim Jims + donuts + Skittles + frozen pizza + Taco Bell + coffee = Comic-Con.

Q. What snack will you feast on while watching The Dark Knight Rises this weekend?
Whatever my wife smuggles into the theater. My money is on Junior Mints.

Q. All food aside, could you sum up your experience in San Diego in 150 words or less?
A. How about 10 PHOTOS or less?

Kids are mesmerized by Capstone's books…

…but, of course, choosy big sisters, parents, and librarians already know that!

And all of them were smitten by our EXCLUSIVE 24-book box set of DC Super-Pets hardcovers,

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20. VVCF Badge Contenst 2013

Sad that you didn’t get a chance to compete in our Badge Art Contest in 2012 … because we didn’t hold one? Well, it’s back, kids! That’s right–if you want to see YOUR artwork hanging around the necks of 100 guests at this year’s Vegas Valley Comic Book Fest, then pay attention! Our VIP Badge Art Contest is back for 2013, to once again spotlight local & regional artists, and the grand prize winner — in addition to getting a bunch of free stuff like graphic novels, gift certificates, etc. — will see his or her art incorporated into the badges that all pre-registrants will wear, designating their VIP status (and fine taste in art).

2011 Grand Prize winner Ken Lamug

Entry is easy! Create a piece of 2-D artwork in any medium — paints, pencils, markers, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc. — that features an appropriately geeky image: think sci-fi, superheroes, fantasy, horror, etc. Submit it using our handy online form, and then a panel of judges including Alternate Reality Comics owner Ralph Mathieu, “Tales from Lost Vegas” writer Ed Hawkins and Aberrant Press founder Justin Newberry will rate the entries based on three major criteria: subject matter, composition and general quality. One talented winner will receive the grand prize: His or her art featured on the VIP attendee badges, a prize package as noted above, recognition on our websites, and the winning art prominently displayed at the Fest on Nov. 2, 2013. Up to five runners-up will also have their art featured on our websites as well as (less prominently) at the Festival. All winners will enjoy the benefits of VIP registration.

Deadline for entry is Oct. 1, 2013 at 11:59 p.m., so get your pencils, pens or Wacom styluses working! We look forward to seeing what you’ve got.

Repost from http://www.vegasvalleycomicbookfestival.org/2013/09/our-badge-art-contest-returns/

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21. Free Coloring Page Friday: Don’t Blink

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Children's book illustrator and writer

If you were unaware I’m now informing you that Doctor Who is my favorite TV show. Sometimes I forget because I don’t get to constantly indulge my thirst for new episodes… but then I remember. ;)

I am aware that the show is pretty ridiculous and nothing really makes sense but when I’m watching an episode it doesn’t really matter. Since Salt Lake Comic Con FanX is just around the corner, and they just announced Karen Gillian as one of the guests I’ve created this little baby for you to color. I’ll probably have some to give away at the show too.  I’ll be at artist alley table D2.

Have fun coloring.


Click the Link Below to download, print and color.

Don't Blink (0)

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22. Going “Looney Tunes” at Comic Con

I’ll be in San Diego next week, lurking around Comic Con, hanging out at Tr!ckster, and showing The Worst Cartoons Ever. You will be seeing a lot of people walking around with this bag (above) which will be handed to all attendees of Comic Con.

It’s the official carry-bag of the Comic Con, designed by Warner Bros. Worldwide TV Marketing. They feature artwork from 10 different Warner Bros. titles (TV series, video games, DC Comics) on one side, with official Comic-Con 2011 artwork (also designed by WB WW TV Mktg) on the other. For the first time ever, the giant-sized (24″x28″) bag converts into a backpack, making it more functional. And, yes, the protective poster tube remains intact.

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23. THIS WEEK: Comic-Con & Tr!ckster

I’ll be down in San Diego later this week, splitting my time six ways (and probably pulling my hair out) running all over Comic Con where I’ll be hanging at the ASIFA-Hollywood booth (#1534) when I’m not moderating a panel or a screening (see below), or taking meetings, looking for old comic books or crashing parties (I’ll happily accept any legitimate invites I can get – hint, hint). I’ll also be attending numerous panels – too numerous to list here – if I can get into them.

I’ll also be jumping across the street, to present films on behalf of Cartoon Brew at Tr!ckster, the alternative animation-artist con which we are co-sponsoring at the San Diego Wine and Culinary Center (across the street in the Gaslamp District). They got a nice write-up in Sunday’s L.A. Times. Check it out if you are down there.

As I said, there are too many animation industry panels at Comic Con of interest for me to list. Every current primetime, cable and kids animated series, theatrical feature and direct-to-video movie in production has a panel devoted to it. I highly recommend you consult the daily schedules posted online. Here are the ones I’m doing, as well as some I may attend and a couple I want to plug because they feature friends as panelists:


10:00 -11:00am Cartoon Brew’s Festival of Student Animation, a celebration of student animated short films, curated by yours truly and Amid Amidi of “the phenomenal animation website Cartoon Brew”. At Tr!ckster (200 Harbor Drive, suite 120)

3:00-4:00pm Classic Warner Bros./Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Going Blu-ray – Yours truly Jerry Beck and Warner Archives’ George Feltenstein lead a panel of renowned animation creators, including directors Spike Brandt (The Looney Tunes Show), Tony Cervone (Duck Dodgers), and Paul Dini (Batman the Animated Series), in presenting and discussing selected vintage cartoons from Warner Home Video’s fall 2011 Blu-ray release of the newly remastered Tom and Jerry Golden Collection and Looney Tunes Platinum Collections. Don’t miss this panel – secrets will be revealed! Room 32AB

6:00-9:00pm – 3rd Annual Comic-Con Beer Bust – ASIFA-Hollywood, One Plus Hub, Technicolor, and The Producer’s Guild of America invite you to the 3rd Annual Beer Bust. Meet, connect, hang out with members of animation community that will come together for this fantastic event. No need to RSVP. Just show up! The first 400 beers are FREE! At The Yard House Keg Room (1023 4th Ave.)


10:00-11:00am Cartoon Brew’s Festival of Student Animation is a second screening of the same program curated by me and Amid. At Tr!ckster (200 Harbor Drive, suite 120)

12:00-1:00pm ASIFA-Hollywood’s State of the Animation Industry What do pros think of the animation scene today? Will it all go 3D? Is 2D dead? When is a hybrid VFX flick an animated flick? How do I get my first job? Join Tom Sito (Lion King, Hop), Ken Duncan (Tarzan), Allen Batt

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24. Shannon --> Out

Okay, I KNOW I keep disappearing on you guys. (I *might* have gone a little overboard when I booked my summer schedule). But I have to do it again because as you read this, I am on my way to San Diego for Comic Con.

I'm totally, TOTALLY excited. But I'm also bracing for impact. See ... Comic Con is kind of an adventure.

There's the whole: fighting-your-way-through-the-exhibits thing (they say on the floor at any given time is about 65,000 people. It is MADNESS!!!)

And the whole: being-surrounded-all-day-by-people-like-THIS thing:

Need I say more?

(And, no--*I* will not be dressed like that. You'll thank me later.)

But I WILL be in costume--at least one of the days. And I'm still deciding if Rainbow Brite will make a reappearance too (I can't decide if it's lame or funny to rock the Brite 2 years in a row).

So I promise, when I get back, there will be LOTS of pictures and SHANNON SHAME GALORE!!!! (Hopefully that will compensate for my taking the rest of the week off blogging). 

(I'm sure I'll also be tweeting and updating FB throughout the next few days, so keep your eyes out for that)

I hope everyone has a fabulous rest of the week and a much more relaxing weekend than I'll be having. See you all on Monday!

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25. Reactions from Comic Con and Tr!ckster

The doors just opened at Comic Con, and I’m not exactly in a position to “live blog” the event – but perhaps you are. If you are reading this while on line or waiting for a panel to begin, send us your thoughts on how its going, what you’ve seen or any or if you found anything cool in the exhibit hall (like this limited “Con exclusive” Comic Book Guy ornament (above) being sold at the Hallmark booth).

If you are you an animation artist artist who is exhibiting your wares at Comic Con or Tr!ckster, please post that info on our Open Thread. And don’t miss Tr!ckster, across the street in the San Diego Wine and Culinary Gallery. It’s a must see – and I’ll be screening Cartoon Brew’s Student Film Festival Thursday and Friday mornings at 10am!

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