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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Kids comics, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Congrats to Raina Telgemeier for three straight years on the NYT Bestseller list


This news arrived via an email ad blast in my inbox, but it doesn’t change the import of it: Raina Telgemeier’s Smile has been on the New York Times bestseller list for three straight years, and she also recently achieved a rare top four sweep of the spots with Smile, Sisters, Drama and the reissued colorized Babysitter’s Club.

Raina’s selection as Person of the Year was deeply deserved, but it’s significant to me that her stature in the publishing world is probably larger than her profile in the comics world—which isn’t to say that she isn’t a big deal in comics, but kids book are still finding their place at the table usually reserved for superheroes and adult literary comics.

With at least 1.4 million copies of Smile in print, it’s definitely one of the best selling graphic novels in the US. And she has more books on the way—currently Telgemeier is working on a new book that will include “paranormal elements.” Can she have FIVE books on the list at the same time? Stay tuned.

1 Comments on Congrats to Raina Telgemeier for three straight years on the NYT Bestseller list, last added: 6/25/2015
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2. Children’s Book Week: James Kochalka’s five favorite kids comics

It’s the 96th Annual Children’s Book Week, and this year’s theme is COMICS. This is a great team up because, as I’ve noted many times in my life, kids like reading comics. To help celebrate, our pals at First Second have reached out to some of their authors to get their picks for favorite kids comics, and kicking things off we have the one and only James Kochalka, whose many kids books include “The Glorkian Warrior Eats Adventure Pie” “Johnny Boo Book 1: The Best Little Ghost In The World and “Johnny Boo Meets Dragon Puncher” . Take it away, James:


Teen Dog by Jake Lawrence

It’s laugh out loud funny story of a Fonzi-like teenage dog and his human friends, the and the art is gorgeous and super crisp and clear.  My boys (age 7 and 11) and I eagerly devoured each of the eight issues.  But what’s next?!  Jake, I’m sure whatever you do next is going to totally rock.


Petite Poilu by Pierre Bailly and Céline Fraipont
These haven’t been published yet in the USA, but they’re wordless books so they’re great for importing even if you don’t know French.  I discovered it when I was a guest at Angouleme a few years back.  Petite Poilu translates as Little Hairy.  It’s about a little boy creature who has surreal adventures.  There are 16 volumes out so far, with the 17th due out in June, and they’re all staggeringly good.  It kind of reminds me a little bit of Jim Woodring’s Frank, if the Frank stories were happier.


Bone by Jeff Smith
No other epic adventure comic even comes close.  In fact it’s the only epic adventure I hold in as high esteem as I hold The Lord of the Rings.  Everything else is just a pretender by comparison.


Leave it To PET! by Kenji Sonishi
This is the funniest comic I have ever read.  It’s about a boy who recycles a can and the can comes back as a robot.  Throughout the series they meet dozens of other robots made of recycled stuff.  Everybody acts just completely off-the-hook insane.  It’s total bonkers fun.


Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond
I love the way storytelling is so different in ongoing weekly serials than it is in a modern graphic novel.  To read them all together in a row gives you a totally new idea of what a story can be.  It’s a seemingly archaic form, but it has a lot to teach us about narrative.  Flash Gordon is great, and it’s what I’m reading right now to the boys, but there are other great ones.  The collections of Popeye dailies are probably even better, actually.

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3. Wimpy Kid #10 goes “Old School” with cover reveal


It’s our annual announcement of the biggest graphic novel of the year!

Wimpy Kid #10 will be out on November 3rd and it will be called Old School…and it will sell millions of copies, just like all the Wimpy Kid books before it. The cover was revealed via Twitter:

The title and cover were also discussed in a webcast.

Many moons ago, the Beat was the venue for the new Wimpy Kid covert debut. It’s true!!! I can’t find the post now because it happened when Ned Stark was alive. But social media has improved a bit since then, and other people like book jacket reveals!

Kinney’s Wimpy Kid books have sold more than 120 million copes worldwide and are a certified phenomenon, and the biggest book series now being published. Kids can’t get enough of the Greg Heffley-eyed view of the world. And just to prove what a cool guy he is, instead of spending his millions on fast cars and liquor, author Kinney opening an indie bookstore in his hometown of Plainville, MASS

Indie bookselling may be financially risky, but Kinney has planned the nearly 3,000-sq.-ft. bookstore and cafe carefully. And he’s had a chance to observe many stores firsthand on his book tours. “An Unlikely Story allows me to play with the truth,” Kinney says, explaining the store’s name. “We’re going to have fun with fables and tall tales.” That includes a replica of a Quidditch match above the children’s section, and books that appear to be flying overhead elsewhere in the store.

During the construction, Kinney has been visiting the store at least twice a day. “It gives me a sense of satisfaction,” he says. Even more satisfying is the opportunity to bring a bookstore to his community, after so many new bookstores have closed, including one where he grew up in Fort Washington, Md. “When I was a kid, we had a bookstore in my town that sold new books and magazines. I visited a few times a week, and the books I purchased there had a huge impact on my life,” Kinney says. “And then one day, the bookstore was gone and a valuable asset to the community was lost.”

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4. Kids Comics Con set for April 25th in the Bronx

Capt KCC Says KCC 2015 Coming

Long before comics for younger readers were fashionable, there was Kids Comic Con, the brainchild of writer Alex Simmons. The ninth edition of the event will be held this year on April 25th at the Bronx Community College from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be comics guests, workshops, face painting and everything else needed for a fun family day.

All the info on the fest is presented below the fold.

The annual event continues KCC’s mission to encourage positivity through imagination and creativity, with special kid-targeted programming including drawing workshops, special presentations, cosplayers, panels and autograph signings by a variety of comics industry and children’s entertainment professionals.

“KCC’s primary goal is to promote reading, creativity, and exploration in kids’ lives,” KCC organizer Alex Simmons said. “We believe it’s so important that young people embrace a continuous flow of positive ideas, skills, and outlets for their thinking as well as self-esteem.”

 Guests already confirmed for the April 25th event include:


  • Alex Simmons (comics writer-playwright-educator, Archie, Scooby Doo, Tarzan)
  • Alitha Martinez (artist, Marvel, DC, Archie, etc.)
  • Louis Henry Mitchell (Sesame Street Workshop artist & art director)
  • Diana Leto (artist on Tarzan, My Little Pony, artist/co-creator of Halloween Legion)
  • Emilio Velez Jr. (artist/creator of The Dodgeball Teens)
  • Ray Felix (comics artist-creator/Bronx Heroes)
  • Gregory Garay (Visual Verbosity)
  • Joey Endres and Jesus Marquez (artists and co-creators, Space Scamps)
  • Jim Salicrup (Papercutz)
  • John-Marc Grob/JMG Studio (multimedia studio – FriendFish children’s books, comics, animation)
  • Matt Herring (comics author, and host of Secret Identity podcast )
  • Mark Mariano (Happyloo, Flabbergast creator-artist)
  • Paul Castiglia (comic writer and editor, Archie, DC, Dark Horse)
  • Pronto Comics (comics publishers)
  • Scary Monsters Nice Sprites
  • Tim Fielder (creator/animator of Matty’s Rocket)
  • Mike Lopez (educator, kids’ comics advocate)


Alex Simmons

Kics Comic Con founder Alex Simmons

An exciting new addition to this year’s programming will be role-playing card game tournaments featuring Yu-Gi-Oh! and Magic, the Gathering. The Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments will be open to both Junior ($7 entry fee) and Expert ($12 entry fee) levels. Yu-Gi-Oh! contestants will receive one free booster pack with entry. The Magic tournament will be a Star City Games open trial. Both tournaments are sponsored by The Lair, the Bronx’s premiere comics and gaming store, “Where Collectors Dwell!” The tournaments are open to all ages and prizes will be given for both. Visit www.facebook.com/thelair1808 for more information.

More guests, panels, workshops and special presentations in the works for KCC 9 will be announced soon, including some one-of-a-kind, interactive experiences not to be missed!

Preceding the flagship event, on April 11 and 12 the KCC Road Show crew will travel to the Meadowlands, New Jersey to take part in the “Kids Love Comics Pavilion” at the first-ever East Coast Comic Con.

“The ‘Kids Love Comics Pavilion’ offers a wonderful opportunity for KCC to bring its ‘comics and kids: perfect together!’ message to the masses. The organizers of East Coast Comic Con are very supportive of kids’ comics and we appreciate the opportunity to exhibit there,” said Simmons.

KCC-affiliated guests for the East Coast Comic Con’s “Kids Love Comics Pavilion” include the afore-mentioned Simmons, Fielder, Castiglia, Leto, Mariano, Endres and Grob, along with:

  • Leslie Carrara-Rudolph (puppeteer and voice of Sesame Street’s Abby Cadabby)
  • Noel MacNeal (Writer, Director, Puppeteer, voice of Bear in the Big Blue House)

In addition to having artists at the table doing sketches and demonstrating drawing tricks, KCC will be offering special programming during the East Coast Comic Con including:

“Sci-Tech Heroes”: In this amazing hands-on workshop Alex Simmons demonstrates how to explore and create superheroes and villains using the boundless regions of science and the imaginative realm of comics. Kids will discuss the powers and abilities of popular comic book characters, and then create their own.

“Try Your ‘Hand’ at Puppets”: Emmy nominated puppeteer Noel MacNeal will conduct a “puppeteering workshop” based on his best-selling book, 10-Minute Puppets. Learn the pro puppeteers’ “secrets of lip-sync and manipulation, make a simple puppet, and operate professionally made puppets!


“Jump Start Your Imagination!”: Leslie Carrara-Rudolph and her wonderful puppet friend Lolly Lardpop are committed to spreading joy and the power of creativity though this wonderful and wacky interactive workshop. Join them as Leslie shows kids how to have fun through puppetry, imagination, and the creative arts!


“Pixel Portraits”: A Digital Storytelling Workshop by the creator of Matty’s Rocket, Tim Fielder, showcasing his storyboarding process of panel-to-panel techniques for comics, animation and film.


Autograph signing schedules for both the East Coast Comic Con and KCC 9 will be announced at a future date, as will post-KCC 9 events in the works for the Road Show team.


“Since 2007 our annual Kids Comic Con event has introduced thousands of kids and families to the power of imagination and creativity,” added Simmons. “Our Road Shows have traveled from everywhere from Chicago to Miami, from Jamaica to Africa, and we continue to bring interactive programming to Ronald McDonald House NYC and partner with them, and others, in its fight for children against cancer.”


This year’s KCC events follow a very successful 2014 that found the KCC team not only organizing KCC 8 but also revving up the “KCC Roadshow” for special events including The South Carolina Book Festival, Chicago’s C2E2 and Awesome Con in Washington, DC. The team also participated in two special happenings for Ronald McDonald House (RMH), including a Sesame Street-themed NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) reunion party of children born prematurely, and the first ever “Superhero For a Day” event for the patients and families staying at RMH.


Simmons added, “This year, we’re launching a program called ‘KCC International Comic Club.’ Our inaugural effort will unites student and teachers in the United States, Senegal, and Ireland in a collaborative, comics-creating project. A formal announcement detailing this project as well as other upcoming KCC events will be made soon.”


The 2015 KIDS COMIC CON is set for April 25 at Bronx Community College, 181st Street and University Avenue, Bronx, NY from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For additional information and up-to-the-minute programming updates, please visit www.facebook.com/KidsComiCon.

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5. ComicsPRO: Papercutz teaming with Nickelodeon for Breadwinners and Sanjay and Craig

Or at least that’s what we got out of these extremely not hard to figure out teaser images:



Papercutz previously published comics based on the RABBIDS cartoon which aired on Nickelodeon. In addition they’ve had pretty massive success with their other kids titles such as Ninjago, Geronimo Stilton and so on. No reason to think this won’t work, too.

The ComicsPRO meeting is currently underway in Portland, OR, with publishers, retailers and a few miscellaneous types on hand to plot the future of comics. Although closed to press, news tends to leak out in a timely fashion. We’ll keep you posted on more development.

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6. Children’s Choice Book Awards nominate several kids graphic novels


Graphic novels for children are on a roll these days, and that was backed up by the Children’s Choice Award nominations, as reported by the CBLDF blog. Winners will be chosen by children voting online. GN nominees are noted in RED.

THIRD TO FOURTH GRADE BOOK OF THE YEAR (Three out of the five books in this category are graphic novels!)

Claude at the Beach by Alex T. Smith (Peachtree Publishers)
The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza by James Kochalka (First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
Happy Birthday, Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matt Holm (Random House Books for Young Readers)
Kali’s Story: An Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue by Jennifer Keats Curtis, illustrated by John Gomes (Arbordale Publishing)
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic)


Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson (HMH Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group)
Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods by Rick Riordan, illustrated by John Rocco (Disney-Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group)
Temple Run: Race Through Time to Unlock Secrets of Ancient Worlds by Tracey West (National Geographic Children’s Books)
The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley (Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic)
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke (First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)


Cece Bell, El Deafo (Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams)
Natalie Lloyd, A Snicker of Magic (Scholastic Press)
Katherine Roy, Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands (David Macaulay Studio/Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
Piers Torday, The Last Wild (Viking Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group)
J.A. White, The Thickety: A Path Begins (Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books)

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7. Preview: Jeffrey Brown Incredible Change-Bots Two Point Something Something

Thanks to the success of his TWO Star Wars series—”Goodnight Darth Vader” has been on the bestseller list for weeks, and his Jedi Academy is a hit series for Scholastic—Jeffrey Brown has become one of the most successful contemporary cartoonists. But before he hit with Star Wars, he was making kids and adults laugh with his Incredible Change-Bots series which parodies, with the same gentle, loving humor, a certain transforming car franchise. TWo small books have come out but here’s a …third, or so. It’s called Incredible Change-Bots Two Point Something Something is a big 224 pages of both previously published and rarely seen material, including short stories, gallery art show pieces, game and toy designs, artwork created for fan club members, interviews with almost every Change-Bot, and more.

And here’s a preview!










1 Comments on Preview: Jeffrey Brown Incredible Change-Bots Two Point Something Something, last added: 6/25/2014
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8. SDCC 2014: Lion Forge gets into print with IDW and kids comics with Care Bears

lion forge.jpg
St. Louis based Lion Forge Comics has been around for a couple of years with a lot of ambitious plans, some well known licenses and a line of here-to-fore digital comics. But recently they announced they are getting into print, with IDW picking up their Air Wolf and Knight Rider comics. They’ll also publish a print version of a comic inspired by MMA fighter Quentin “Rampage”Jackson called Rampage Jackson: Street Soldier. That should be PLENTY wacky. More Lion Forge titles are impending from IDW, possibly including such classic licensed fear as Miami Vice, and Punky Bewster.

Lion Forge also announced a deal with AG Properties, the likening division of American Greetings, to put out three kids comics as part of the Roar kids line: Care Bears, Madballs and the Disney XD animated series, Packages from Planet X.
“Our library has grown immensely in the past year bringing a unique selection of comic books to readers of all ages,” said David Steward II, CEO, Lion Forge. “Bringing the lovable characters from Care Bears with the humor and action from Madballs and Packages from Planet X to our collection further diversifies our offerings while teaching and interacting with our younger fans in new, creative ways.”
Lion Forge will have a booth (#1903) and a panel with Jackson, writers Joelle Sellner, David Gorden and Brandon Easton, and Yaya Han and wrestler Chavo Guerrero. IN other words, just a typical panel at San Diego.

Lion Forge – Saturday (July 26th) 11:00 AM – Noon Room 29A

Lion Forge Comics Presents: Knight Rider vs. Airwolf, Rampage Jackson and debuts new projects with Yaya Han and Chavo Guerrero, Jr.

Panel Description
Lion Forge returns to SDCC! Senior Editor Shannon Eric Denton (Lion Forge) is joined by the next generation of creators; Joelle Sellner, David Gorden, and Eisner Nominee Brandon Easton to discuss their projects – Airwolf vs Knight Rider! Andre “The Giant” original creations Quinton “Rampage” Jackson: Street Soldier, and more!!! With Special Guests; Hero of Cosplay’s Yaya Han, MMA Champion Rampage Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and WWE & Impact Wrestling Champion Chavo Guerrero, you never know what surprises will be in store when you enter The Lion Forge so be sure to stop by!! #LionForge Moderated by Miami Vice writer Jonathan London 

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9. SDCC: Ron Marz tackles a Skylanders Ongoing at IDW

by Alexander Jones

Skylanders00-cvr-5fa17The acclaimed writer Ron Marz is tackling the popular video game franchise known as Skylanders in comic book form. The comic was announced this morning from IDW on their site under the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive content. The first installment into the series known as the Skylanders #0 will be available at the show. Marz was also involved in the Skylanders SWAP Force comic from IDW. Joining him on the new series are artists David Baldeon and Mike Bowden. The new title starts in October, and is going to be an ongoing monthly series. The author stated that in the first Issue of the series, every single character from the franchise will be present. He also teased multiple protagonists in the book.

More as the story develops.

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10. Interview: Marc Tyler Nobleman on Bill Finger and the Secret Origins of Batman

Photo by Kendall Whitehouse

For years, comics’ professionals have been hiding a well-kept Batman secret. Batman has been listed as being created by Bob Kane for decades, but the secret creator of the other half of Batman has been in hiding, signing bad deals and contracts, and being lost to the general public. Despite the immense popularity of Batman, only a fraction of people that enjoy the character have any clue as to who created the hero. Bob Kane has been listed as the sole creator of Batman in almost every piece of media that fans have devoured since his initial appearance in May 1939. Marc Tyler Nobleman has led a crusade to make it known that Batman was created by both Bob Kane and Bill Finger. He did so via a meticulously researched all-ages illustrated book entitled Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman. We caught up with Nobleman for an interview on the secret origins of the creation of Batman.

How do you think Bill Finger would react to the resurgence of different media finally coming together and seeing his contributions to Batman?

Humbly and gratefully.

What do you find interesting about the men and women who have created various superheroes?

With respect to the three I have written about (Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Bill Finger), I find it especially interesting is how these young men were building modern myths from unassuming apartments and (at least in Finger’s case) seemingly without a sense of their cultural significance. Finger’s creative influence could not be more disproportionate to the recognition he got for it in his lifetime. In other words, staggering influence, almost no credit for it.Bill the Boy Wonder - cover sketches 1 (six total)

Is there any information on Finger’s exact contribution to some of the other DC heroes and villains such as Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and Wildcat?

He wrote the first stories to feature both.

Have you studied the reactions of younger fans when they read the book? What are their reactions like?

Because I have the privilege of speaking in schools around the world (including Tanzania, Chile, and the United Arab Emirates), I regularly experience the reactions of fans both young and young-at-heart. It has been immensely gratifying to see how impassioned kids can be over what they perceive as an injustice to Bill Finger. Here’s one of my favorite projects in response to the book – kids pretending to be Bill’s only child Fred and writing a letter as Fred to Bob Kane: http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2013/11/letters-from-bill-fingers-son-to-bob.html. There are some profound thoughts in there.

Did you find any conflicting reports on the research of Finger based on a ‘he-said, she-said’ basis?

Other than the absurd amount of Batman aspects Kane originally took credit for but later attributed to Finger, no.

How did the collaboration with industry veteran Ty Templeton come about?

Having been a longtime fan, I emailed him to ask if he’d be interested. He said yes with more than a passing knowledge of Finger’s tragic career, and I loved that he was already passionate about the subject. My publisher (obviously) also liked Ty, so we were on.

Bill the Boy Wonder - title treatment - black on yellow Have there been any talks about adapting this story into a different medium?

Yes, daily – in my head. And quite often after I speak, someone in the audience will say “This HAS to be a movie.” I have had a few talks with film people. So far nothing has gotten past the exploratory phase but I am confident one day it will. I just hope I am involved!

Aside from the obvious accreditation being taken away from Finger, are you satisfied with the nature of comic books nowadays being more creator-driven among fans of the industry?

On one level yes, but I continue to hear stories of contemporary creators who have felt exploited by comics’ publishers. Certainly the Internet and the explosion of proactive fandom have done much good in the way of acknowledging the talent no matter what the publishers do or don’t do.

For more information, take a look at Marc’s blogBill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman is on sale now. Kendall Whitehouse shot the featured photograph seen at the top of the page.

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11. The Biggest Graphic Novel of the year is out today: Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Long Haul

9781419711893 350x521 The Biggest Graphic Novel of the year is out today: Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Long Haul

Today what will probably be the biggest selling graphic novel—or hybrid graphic novels, or picto-fic or whatever you want to call it—of the year goes on sale. Wimpy Kid #9, The Long Haul is the latest installment of Jeff Kinney’s best selling series, and it finds the Heffleys going on a sumer road trip. Anyone who grew up with a family and car will immediately need no further hype as to the horrors and comedy plot potential inherent in the family road trip, but just in case you need more of a pitch:

28432 1 The Biggest Graphic Novel of the year is out today: Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Long Haul

That’s from a preview up at Publishers Weekly. There’s also an activity guide, embedded below.

In it’s first week, Wimpy Kid #8 Hard Luck sold 1.3 million copies in all formats. The series as a whole had 115 million copies in print as of a year ago. It may not really be a comic, but it is a verbal/visual blend, and it is probably the biggest book series currently going.

Wimpy Kid #9 is on sales today —but if you have a child under the age of 12 you probably already knew that.

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12. Interview: John Patrick Green Marks His Solo Debut With ‘Hippopotamister’

Hippopotamister Graphic 727x1028 Interview: John Patrick Green Marks His Solo Debut With HippopotamisterBy Harper Harris

John Patrick Green is a Long Island-based comics creator, best known for his collaboration with Dave Roman, Teen Boat. In an announcement made yesterday by First Second, Green is striking out on his own with the younger audience based Hippopotamister: the story of a Hippopotamus and his friend, Red Panda, who leave their home at a run-down zoo and strike out into the real world to get jobs. One by one, thanks to Red Panda, they get fired from each new vocation. Our hero then decides to return to the zoo, and use his new-found skills to return the zoo to its former glory, but can he do it without his longtime companion?

Beyond being an exceptional draftsman, Green is also an all-around renaissance man in the comics industry, having served in editorial positions and as a publisher. In honor of the big announcement, we discussed his career in-depth and the origins of Hippopotamister and what readers can expect from this 2016 release.

Why comics? Have you been a fan your whole life? What kinds of comics did you read when you first started–superheroes, all-ages, etc.?

I have been a comics fan my whole life. I was always an artist, constantly drawing as a kid. I was a very sick child and spent a lot of time indoors.  Drawing was an activity I could do that wouldn’t cause an asthma attack or expose me to allergens. My gateway into comics were the funny pages, specifically Garfield. This was shortly before Calvin and Hobbes debuted, and that strip didn’t appear in my local paper for at least a couple years after it started. But the Garfield strips and TV specials were what got me into drawing comics, and using that 3-4 panel format to tells gags and stories. My brother, who is two years older than me, brought the first actual comic books into the house (my dad’s comic books having long been thrown out by his mom). I forget what comics he’d bring home, but I remember not being totally into them until I tagged along to the neighborhood Te-Amo store, which had a spinner rack. It wasn’t the first comic book I read, but I vividly remember the first one I bought with my own money being Marvel’s The Gargoyle #2 (in a Four-Issue Limited Series.) The cover and interior art by Bill Sienkiewicz was like no other comic I’d seen before. Soon my brother and I found an actual comic shop in our area, called The Incredible Pulp (now long-closed), and it was there that I’d get hooked on superhero comics (almost exclusively Marvel, aside from some more prominent DC fare like Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen) like X-Men and Daredevil and indie books like Nexus, Badge, Usagi Yojimbo, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And while I never really read Spider-Man much, one of my all-time favorites was the parody version, Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham.

When did your career in comics start? At what point did you decide that’s what you wanted to do?

My career as an artist began in, I think, 3rd or 4th grade. I had a knack for drawing on model, so I’d draw posters of cartoon characters and sell them to other students for 25 cents. My own mother accused me of tracing an image of Yogi Bear, but she apologized after holding my drawing over the reference up to the light and seeing that the sizes were different. But it was also then that she decided to tell me about copyright law and suggested I create my own comics — which I did. So by the time I was in junior high, I’d already had self-published 9 issues (plus 2 giant-sized annuals) of my own comic book called The Footsies (mostly a parody comic of other cartoons and properties, only starring these three kids who had big feet), which I’d photocopy on my grandparents’ photocopier and sell to other students. The Incredible Pulp also sold copies on commission. Even before I started selling my art, I just knew I wanted to be an artist. My grandfather first said I could work for Disney when I was probably 5. Though I did actually want to be an astronaut most of all, but my health put the kibosh on that.

How did your career begin? What path did you take? What was your number one goal when entering the comics field?

If we ignore the self-publishing as a kid, I’d say my career began in college. In high school I’d kind of given up on comics. They got too expensive (the cover price went over a dollar!) and artistically, I was focused on things like watercolor and oil paints. I went to School of Visual Arts, but I didn’t go for comics or illustration. The school’s biggest focus when I enrolled was design, and the department had a 99% hiring rate upon graduation. I felt like the real reason to go to college was to get an actual job out of it, so I majored in graphic design. But I still *liked* comics, so I’d go to the occasional local comic convention. It was at one on Long Island where I met eventual long-time collaborator Dave Roman. He and his friends were super into comics, and this was early in the days of Image. I actually had a friend who worked at Extreme Studios, so he and I hit it off and they got me back into wanting to make comics. Starting with my sophomore year I took all the comics courses I could as electives. I was a big fan of Klaus Janson’s work, so I took his class, and during the second semester the students have to illustrate a full 24-page comic. We had the choice to draw a Daredevil or Batman script, or write one ourselves. So I teamed up with Dave, and we created the series Quicken Forbidden, which I drew as my project.  When it was done we published it ourselves and distributed it through Diamond. So, just like when I was little, my path into comics was to Just Make Comics. Other than Just Making Comics, the goal was to get paid to do it. When graduation was approaching, Dave and I had already published two issues of Quicken Forbidden, so they were in my portfolio. SVA had a job fair for the design department, and as it turned out Penthouse Magazine had a rep there who said their comics-spin off was looking for an assistant art director. So I interviewed and before even graduating I had an actual paying job in comics, even if it was really just lettering porn.

Who are your biggest influences as an artist?

This is probably the hardest question for me to answer. It’s one that evolves over time. Things that influenced me when I was younger can have had a long-lasting John.Patrick.Green byEllenB.Wright Interview: John Patrick Green Marks His Solo Debut With Hippopotamistereffect, even if I don’t currently consider them to be an influence. So, to bring it back to Garfield, Jim Davis was a huge influence on me. When I was little I sent him some strips I drew and he wrote back personally, encouraging me to do more. And while I can list off all the comic artists, as well as fine artists and illustrators like Van Gogh, Renee Magritte, Norman Rockwell, who I admire, it’s really the fact that I grew up with very supportive and understanding parents and teachers who accepted that I knew, at a young age, that THIS was what I wanted to do, and they let me do it.

At what point did licensed comics become a reality for you, with Phineas and Ferb? How did that experience affect how you worked? Did it change your working style, or were there increased challenges working on a property that wasn’t your own?

Drawing Phineas and Ferb came about mostly because I’d had a long relationship with Disney. After Penthouse Comix, I became the comics assistant at Disney Adventures Magazine. Like Penthouse, it initially mostly involved lettering. The position evolved over time and eventually I was writing and coloring Disney and Pixar comics, but the only comic I drew was a gag strip called “The Last Laugh.” Fast-forward 9 years and Disney Adventures was cancelled. But Disney was still doing magazines and comics, and my former boss contacted me about drawing Phineas and Ferb. Apparently finding someone to draw in the style of the show was difficult. There are a lot of traditional animation techniques (eg, squash and stretch) that the show doesn’t really do, and translating the feel of the show into comics was proving difficult for the studio Disney normally had handle licensed comics. But it was right up my alley, and I was only doing behind the scenes freelance work for publishers here and there, so it was great to work on something that got a little bit more of the spotlight.

How did you go about developing such a variety of skills, having done font and book design? Did you aim to do those things, or did you find yourself in a surprising place with them?

I think they all sort of came about out of necessity. As a graphic design major, I’d do book designs as assignments, but that’s mostly covers and doesn’t really help when trying to lay out a comic that you have to send off to a printer. When I was at SVA everything was still done by hand, all paste-ups and mechanicals. It was at Penthouse that I learned how to color in Photoshop, letter in Illustrator, and lay out comics in Quark. During the year I was there, Dave and I continued to do Quicken Forbidden, but now instead of printing out lettering, gluing it to my art, and mailing that to Quebecor, I transitioned to all-digital. We were just using a free comic-style font for the first few issues, which was turning up in EVERY small-press/indie/self-published comic, so I just said “I’m going to figure out how to make a font based off my own lettering.” Word just got around that I knew how to lay out comic books, design fonts, and get them distributed, and I found myself helping other people who wanted to get into it.  Then when larger book publishers, who were mostly unfamiliar with comics, wanted to start their own line, I guess they heard about me.

When did editing become the direction your career took? Did Disney lead to Penthouse, or did Penthouse lead to Disney? How did those two gigs happen, and were they back to back?

Penthouse lead to Disney, and they were indeed back to back. I had known Heidi MacDonald (full disclosure, she runs The Beat) through Friends of Lulu, an organization that was devoted to encouraging more women in comics, both as readers and creators. Yeah, it was a little weird working at Penthouse Comix and being a member of this group, but you can make the biggest changes from the inside, right? Not that it mattered, because after a year there, Penthouse Comix was getting cancelled.  At the same time Heidi, who was the comics editor at Disney Adventures, was looking for a new assistant. I think maybe a month passed between when my Penthouse job ended and I started at Disney.

Did your experience working on Phineas and Ferb make the editing job on Disney Adventures Magazine easier?

While Phineas and Ferb debuted during the last year Disney Adventures was active, there actually was no overlap. But I was familiar with the property, and had worked with Steve Behling who was editing the Phineas and Ferb comics (and taken over for Heidi after she left Disney), so the whole process was easy to slip into.

How do all your past jobs (artist, font designer, etc.) inform your work as a publisher?

I do have an extremely critical eye, especially when it comes to production, lettering, and design issues. Probably to the point that it’s detrimental.

Do you find that readers often have a misunderstanding about the work that goes into the editorial role?

It’s certainly easier to point at a page and say “this person drew that” or “that person wrote this,” than it is to point out how an editor has affected the final comic you hold in your hands. But the process of making a comic is a mystery to a lot of people. I think most readers don’t understand just how collaborative creating a comic actually can be. An editor plays an important role in any book, but comics is a unique way of telling stories. So even if a person understands what an editor traditionally does, there’s an extra layer to understanding their contribution to a comic.

As a publisher, how do you go about looking for new and interesting talents for Cryptic Press? What are the works that you’ve published that you’re most proud of?

It’s been a while since Dave and I have published other creators’ works. We had grand plans of being this indy press startup, putting out this cool underground comics, like Slave Labor and other small publishers we admired. I miss those days a bit, it was a lot of fun being a ‘businessman’ in comics, not just a writer or artist. Aside from our own book, Quicken Forbidden, the most notable books we published were the first issue of Farel Dalrymple’s Pop Gun War and an issue of Aim by Miss Lasko Gross.

What are the origins of Hippopotamister? What made you want to jump into your first solo graphic novel?

I have a thing for puns and wordplay, and while I’m sure it’s an easy name to come up with, when “Hippopotamister” popped into my head I just knew there was a story there. I really enjoy collaborating on comics with another creator, but every so often I’ve got an idea in my head that takes shape on its own.  Bringing someone else in to work on it with me would just be a step backward. So like many other ideas, this one got filed under “do it myself.” Why this idea became my first solo graphic novel was really just a matter of opportunity.

What is the premise of Hippopotamister? Why a hippopotamus?

I had the title before I had the book concept, but not by much. It started with a kid at a zoo calling a hippopotamus “hippopotamister,” like the kid is mispronouncing the word. The hippo hears this, and thinks “hippopotamister” means that he’s a person, not a hippo, so he puts on a hat and leaves the zoo. And for some reason, whatever hat the hippo wears, like a fireman’s helmet, people think that’s his job. The story evolved, and it’s now very different from that original concept, but the hippo still leaves the zoo and wears lots of different job-related hats.

As a publisher yourself, what made you want to go to First Second with Hippopotamister?

I’ve known everyone at First Second since I think before there even was a First Second. My editor Calista Brill may even remember catching me using the office photocopier to make copies of Teen Boat minicomics when we were both at Disney. I’ve been a fan of their work since the beginning, and I’ve done behind the scenes work for them for years (book layout, ad designs), and I knew they were looking to do more graphic novels for younger readers. I like their approach to comics, and have wanted to do an actual book with them.  So when they responded well to my 10-second pitch for Hippopotamister, I knew it would be a good fit.

Is the intended audience for the book all-ages, younger readers, or do you hope it will entertain readers of all ages?

Hippopotamister is definitely for younger readers, but as a creator I generally want as many people as possible to find something enjoyable out of my work.

A sizable portion of your comics work has been in collaboration with fellow Comics Bakery creators like Dave Roman…was it at all scary to break out on your own, or were you more excited about the opportunity?

I can’t say it’s scary. It really doesn’t feel like I’m breaking out on my own. For all the books I’ve done with Dave, be it Quicken Forbidden or Teen Boat (or ones most people have never seen, like Melon Head or I Just Had My Lab Test), it was just him and me. We didn’t really have editors or publishers, at least not until they came along to publish collected versions. With Hippopotamister, while Dave’s not involved, I *am* working directly with an editor and publisher. Plus, there’s Gina Gagliano, who does First Second’s marketing and PR, something Dave and I didn’t really have resources for as Cryptic Press. And I’m working with an amazing colorist, Cat Caro, on Hippopotamister. So while it’s technically a solo book, I’m certainly not alone in making the book happen, and it’s probably less scary than other projects. It is still very exciting to have the chance to make this book, though, that’s for sure.

How long was the production process on this graphic novel?

You ask that as if I’m not still in the middle of it!  Hippopotamister should be in stores in 2016.

Were there any surprises or roadblocks along the way?

Not yet, knock on wood.

What’s the underlying message of Hippopotamister that you would like your readers to take away?

Don’t be afraid to try something new. You don’t have to be good at something to be able to enjoy it. And if you don’t like what you’re doing, try something else. You might even uncover some hidden talents along the way.

Is there another graphic novel in your future that fans can look forward to after reading Hippopotamister?

There is ALWAYS another graphic novel in my future!  The question is just which one do I do next.

You can find Hippopotamister at local retailers in the Spring of 2016 from First Second

4 Comments on Interview: John Patrick Green Marks His Solo Debut With ‘Hippopotamister’, last added: 11/14/2014
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13. Black Friday ’14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)

by Zachary Clemente

gift guide Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)If you’re like me, you don’t have any siblings, which is a real shame since I really want to get kids into comics. Thankfully, I have enough younger cousins who are easily susceptible to the gift of comics no matter the occasion, so I spoil them rotten at pretty much every turn.

I hope they actually like them.

Either way, here’s a collection of great gifts to get your younger cousins (or siblings or children or whatever – take your pick) this Black Friday consumer-fest in preparation for the upcoming holidays.


STK644501 Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Adventure Time Fionna & Cake Mathematical Edition Hardcover – $29.99 (-25%) TFAW

Literally one of the most beautiful books I’ve read – whether you’re a fan of Adventure Time’s sometimes heroines, this loving tale of friendship with melt your heart. This is the collected series. Written and Drawn by Natasha Allegri.

prv14944 cov 772x1028 Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise Library Edition HC - $23.99 (-40%) TFAW

A must read for any fan of the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” series. This hardcover collects the three volumes of Gene Luen Yang’s canonical stories of the events directly after the end of the hit series, Drawn by Gurihiru. There are two more series after this one; “The Search” and “The Rift”.

4064457 01 Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Bride’s Story, Vol. 1 – $13.24 (-22%) Amazon

There is literally nothing like Kaoru Mori‘s series about the life of Amir Halgal, a young woman living during 19th century Silk Road, betrothed to a boy 8 years younger than her. Bride’s Story represents this situations with care, keeping the events historically accurate while making it accessible and entertaining for contemporary audiences. Additionally, Mori’s art is unparalleled with this series, currently 6 volumes in total.

BandettePresto Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Bandette Volume 1: Presto! Hardcover – $7.49 (-50%) TFAW

A lighthearted jaunt through the life of Bandette – the first collection of Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover‘s “harmless” crime romp is delightful and exquisitely executed. The second volume to out April 2015.

BATMAN 66 vol1 nm1mbsipz0  527c205d3e9f65.33103894 Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Batman ’66 Vol. 1 Hardcover – $12.64 (-37%) Amazon

Bringing back the spectacular fun of the classic Batman series, Jeff Parker writes dastardly deeds and timeless heroics with artists Jonathan Case, Ty Templeton, Joe Quinones, Sandy Jarrell, Ruben Procopio, and Colleen Coover. Batman ’66 currently has 2 volumes out, with the 3rd out April 2015.

cvr9781421550640 9781421550640 hr Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Box Set - $42.00 (-30%) Amazon

Actually the most amazing thing on this list. While most American readers are familiar with Hayao Miyazaki‘s early masterpiece in animated form – it was original a manga – a far deeper and involved story about Nausicaä’s adventures. I literally cannot recommend this enough. The whole series is printed in two gorgeous hardcover books in this set.

91Z0pfjw9UL Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Battling Boy Vol. 1 Paperback – $9.68 (-39%) Amazon

A distillation of everything cosmic about Kirby and magical about Miyazaki; Paul Pope‘s entrance into all-ages comics is a fantastic tome for anyone looking for adventure. This is the first of two volumes, with an offshoot series Aurora West having one of two books currently out.

71iS9Uek5CL Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Smile/Sister Boxed Set – $18.68 (-15%) Midtown

No offense, but if Raina Telgemeier‘s work isn’t on your radar, better move out from under that rock and pick it up. I recently attended an event where she ran a workshop and it was literally swimming with eager children.

dcb772b0 e6df 43fa a11a 20f906690597 Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Ms. Marvel Paperback Vol. 1 – No Normal – $12.79 (-20%) TFAW

Same as above, if you aren’t aware of what Marvel is doing with the name “Ms. Marvel” you need to check out this book. Meet Kamala Khan, a teenage superheroine who is learning the ropes of how to juggle a like of crime-fighting and being an inconspicuous teenager in a devoutly Islamic household; it’s tremendous and important work. Written by G. Willow Wilson and Drawn by Adrian Alphona, this is an ongoing series.

Ewoks SoE Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Star Wars: Ewoks – Shadows of Endor – $3.99 (-50%) TFAW

There literally isn’t a reason to pick up Zack Giallongo‘s wonderful Star Wars book. He has a marvelous style that allows for epic battles and violence while riding the line of accessibility for all readers. Also, c’mon – Ewoks are the cutest. This is currently a standalone book.

johnny boo cover new lg Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Johnny Boo Hardcover Vol. 1 – Best Little Ghost in the World - $4.97 (-50%) TFAW

There are so many books by Vermonter James Kochalka that could (and should) be on this list, but the Johnny Boo series is my favorite. There are currently 6 super-cute volumes out and they’re all really fun.

Costume Quest Invastion Of The Candy Snatchers Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Costume Quest Hardcover: Invasion Of Candy Snatchers - $19.99 (-20%) TFAW

For me, this was a dream come true. Zac Gorman is well-known online for crafting wholly unique animated comics that distill that feeling of beating a temple in The Legend of Zelda on the first try at 2 in the morning. Since then, he’s been making amazing comics in print. Costume Quest is a property from the immensely wonderful company Double Fine (Psychonauts, Broken Age) and well-deserving of a beautiful comic.

MAY140616 Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)How Toons: Tools Of Mass Construction  – $9.74 (-35%) TFAW

That’s right. There’s a comic made to teach kids how to use DIY projects to practice science and explore engineering principles (safely enough). Created by Nick Dragotta, Saul GriffithJoost Bonsen, and Ingrid Dragotta, How Toons is the perfect gift for that would be physicist or doctor without seeming forced.

2005185 sailor moon 1 600dpi Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Sailor Moon Kodansha Edition Vol. 1 - $6.65 (-39%) Amazon

Fair warning – there are like 12 volumes of the premier Shōjo manga by Naoko Takeuchi, so in for a penny in for pound. Retranslated and reprinted starting a few years ago, the adventures of Usagi Tsukino, the leader of Sailor Senshi, are an absolute joy to read.

nov090804 Black Friday 14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members)Kazu Kibuishi’s Copper – $6.49 (-50%) TFAW

Last but not least, is Kazu Kibiushi‘s early work, Copper. Don’t get me wrong, his work on Amulet, Flight, Daisy Kutter, and more are amazing – especially as a fan of seeing his progression. However, nothing – any I mean nothing – has gotten as close to the tone and feeling that Calvin & Hobbes encapsulated; and we have to celebrate that.

0 Comments on Black Friday ’14: Presents for Younger Cousins (And Other Such Family Members) as of 11/25/2014 2:26:00 PM
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14. Gift Guide: TOON Books gift sets and sale

s558472801427611443 p9 i2 w1632 Gift Guide: TOON Books gift sets and sale

It’s gifting time, and the Beat team is showcasing some suitable gifts for everyone in your family.

Among those are theseTOON Books gift sets which are now 33% off. Toon Books, the line of comics for young readers edited by Francoise Mouly, offers a whole rage of books at different reading levels—the set shown above, Level 2, is for beginning readers, but other sets target pre-readers and middle grade level kids. The new Toon Graphics line is for all ages. The books are all comics so they instill comics reading at an impressionable age. Best of all, the stories and art are by some of the best in the business: Jeff Smith, Eleanor Davis, Rutu Modan, Jeffrey Hayes, Liniers, R. Kikuo Johnson, Lorenzo Mattotti, Jay Lynch and many more.

You really can’t go wrong with any of these books as a gift for a young reader (or even just a comics art fan) of your acquaintance. Among those books suitable for the latter, we’d suggest Frank Viola’s gorgeous A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse and of course the Gaiman/MattottiHansel and Gretel, which is a suitable gift for just about anyone.

0 Comments on Gift Guide: TOON Books gift sets and sale as of 12/10/2014 6:08:00 PM
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15. Andy Runton’s Owly Books is going self published

2636017 owly and friends reading Andy Runtons Owly Books is going self published
When IDW acquired Top Shelf a few weeks ago, there was much talk about creators like Alan Moore staying around, but Top Shelf’s Chris Staros made it clear that he had discussed the move in advance with his top creators.

One much liked book that Top Shelf published for about a decade is Andy Runton’s Owly series, a steady seller that helped establish kids content in the indy world long before it was fashionable. However, as noted by Johanna Draper Carlson, Runton tweeted that he would be self-publishing Owly going forward.

I reached out to Runton for more information and he explained that this had aboslutely nothing to do with the IDW deal. His contract with Top Shelf actually ran out last year, and he had made plans to self publisher starting then. “I’ve been thinking about self publishing for a long time and have gotten some great advice from Terry and Robyn Moore,” he told The Beat. However, a series of personal setbacks put this on hold for all of 2014, and he has no firm publishing lans yet. Hopefully, we’ll see Owly coming back in 2015, and Runton back on top form.

3 Comments on Andy Runton’s Owly Books is going self published, last added: 1/19/2015
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16. Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

When Scholastic launched its Graphix imprint 10 years ago, graphic novels were a novelty, if you can pardon the expression, in the mainstream publishing world. And kids comics were an unknown quantity—comics shops didn’t want them and bookstores didn’t know what to do with them. In the first wave, there were many miscues and misunderstandings at many houses along the way. But Graphix wasn’t the one making them. Granted, starting out a line with Jeff Smith’s Bone is about as much a sure thing as possible—6.9 million copies in print and counting. But picking Raina Telgemeier to do a Babysitter’s Club relaunch and eventually Smile, and Kazu Kibuishi to publish his Amulet series weren’t as sure—but they sure paid off. Along the way Graphix has picked up multiple Eisner Award wins and nominations, a Stonewall Book Award, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor, an Edgar Allan Poe nomination, and 14 New York Times bestsellers. They’ve published many more top cartoonists such as Doug TenNapel, Greg Ruth, Mike Maihack and Jimmy Gownley. And there’s more to come.

To celebrate their tenth anniversary—Bone: Out From Boneville was published in 20o5—Scholastic has some cool stuff on tap. To kick things off they’re revealing two covers for the first time:

SpaceDumplins Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

Craig Thompson’s Space Dumplins comes out in August. It’s the first kids book by the acclaimed author of Blankets and Habibi, and his first one in full-color, with Dave Stewart adding hues.

SunnySideUp Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

And the sister/brother duo of  Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, best selling authors of Babymouse and Squish have a new one as well: Sunny Side Up (August 25, 2015; ages 8-12), which is a semi-autobiographical story, their first.

In addition, 12 Graphix artists have created new art that will be offered as prints throughout the year at events and online. The line-up: James Burks, Nathan Fox, Jimmy Gownley, Matthew Holm, Kazu Kibuishi, Mike Maihack, Dave Roman, Greg Ruth, Jeff Smith, Raina Telgemeier, Doug TenNapel, and Craig Thompson. Events include ALA Midwinter (Chicago, IL), Emerald City Comic Con (Seattle, WA), Texas Library Association (Austin, TX), BookExpo (New York City, NY), ALA Annual (San Francisco, CA), Comic-Con International (San Diego, California), Long Beach Comic Expo (Long Beach, CA), Salt Lake Comic Con (Salt Lake City, UT), and New York Comic Con (New York City, NY).

Finally, on February  24, Graphic will publish BONE #1: Out from Boneville, Tribute Edition, with a new illustrated poem from  Jeff Smith and new tribute art from sixteen top artists.

Along with the cover reveal, Graphic has announced some future projects:

  • Two more installments in the Amulet series
  • A new graphic novel, as yet untitled, by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Books 3 and 4 in Mike Maihack’s Cleopatra in Space series
  • And from Raina Telgemeier, a nonfiction family story in the vein of  Smile and Sisters), a collection of short stories, and a fictional graphic novel.

It’s definitely worth giving Graphix and its founder, David Saylor, a tip of the cap. 10 years ago it was a gamble. Today it’s an institution.


4 Comments on Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm, last added: 1/30/2015
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17. Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

When Scholastic launched its Graphix imprint 10 years ago, graphic novels were a novelty, if you can pardon the expression, in the mainstream publishing world. And kids comics were an unknown quantity—comics shops didn’t want them and bookstores didn’t know what to do with them. In the first wave, there were many miscues and misunderstandings at many houses along the way. But Graphix wasn’t the one making them. Granted, starting out a line with Jeff Smith’s Bone is about as much a sure thing as possible—6.9 million copies in print and counting. But picking Raina Telgemeier to do a Babysitter’s Club relaunch and eventually Smile, and Kazu Kibuishi to publish his Amulet series weren’t as sure—but they sure paid off. Along the way Graphix has picked up multiple Eisner Award wins and nominations, a Stonewall Book Award, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor, an Edgar Allan Poe nomination, and 14 New York Times bestsellers. They’ve published many more top cartoonists such as Doug TenNapel, Greg Ruth, Mike Maihack and Jimmy Gownley. And there’s more to come.

To celebrate their tenth anniversary—Bone: Out From Boneville was published in 20o5—Scholastic has some cool stuff on tap. To kick things off they’re revealing two covers for the first time:

SpaceDumplins Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

Craig Thompson’s Space Dumplins comes out in August. It’s the first kids book by the acclaimed author of Blankets and Habibi, and his first one in full-color, with Dave Stewart adding hues.

SunnySideUp Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm

And the sister/brother duo of  Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, best selling authors of Babymouse and Squish have a new one as well: Sunny Side Up (August 25, 2015; ages 8-12), which is a semi-autobiographical story, their first.

In addition, 12 Graphix artists have created new art that will be offered as prints throughout the year at events and online. The line-up: James Burks, Nathan Fox, Jimmy Gownley, Matthew Holm, Kazu Kibuishi, Mike Maihack, Dave Roman, Greg Ruth, Jeff Smith, Raina Telgemeier, Doug TenNapel, and Craig Thompson. Events include ALA Midwinter (Chicago, IL), Emerald City Comic Con (Seattle, WA), Texas Library Association (Austin, TX), BookExpo (New York City, NY), ALA Annual (San Francisco, CA), Comic-Con International (San Diego, California), Long Beach Comic Expo (Long Beach, CA), Salt Lake Comic Con (Salt Lake City, UT), and New York Comic Con (New York City, NY).

Finally, on February  24, Graphic will publish BONE #1: Out from Boneville, Tribute Edition, with a new illustrated poem from  Jeff Smith and new tribute art from sixteen top artists.

Along with the cover reveal, Graphic has announced some future projects:

  • Two more installments in the Amulet series
  • A new graphic novel, as yet untitled, by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Books 3 and 4 in Mike Maihack’s Cleopatra in Space series
  • And from Raina Telgemeier, a nonfiction family story in the vein of  Smile and Sisters), a collection of short stories, and a fictional graphic novel.

It’s definitely worth giving Graphix and its founder, David Saylor, a tip of the cap. 10 years ago it was a gamble. Today it’s an institution.


0 Comments on Graphix is 10 and reveals covers to new Craig Thompson and Jenni and Matthew Holm as of 1/30/2015 6:48:00 AM
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18. Review: Princeless: The Pirate Princess #1 packs a punch

Screen shot 2015-02-14 at 5.14.20 PMWriter: Jeremy Whitley

Artists: Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt

Publisher: Action Lab

This installment in the ongoing Princeless series is everything you could want from a title like Princeless: The Pirate Princess #1. A tough and self-assured lead, whose Father trained her from childhood to be a quiet, efficient warrior of the high-seas as opposed to a princess waiting in a tower for rescue. Yet in the latter situation is exactly where Raven Xingtao, the pirate princess, finds herself in the opening pages of the book. Yet it’s two other princesses on a large pink dragon that end up breaking into Raven’s tower. Adrienne is clearly not “wearing her husbands armor” as a Knight loitering beneath the tower discovers to his peril, and Bedelia formidably wields a large Harley-Quinn style mallet. Raven easily falls in with the trio leading to several action packed scenes.

Admittedly, this is was my first brush with the Princeless series, but the story was easy enough to follow. I would have liked to learn just a little bit more about Raven and her brothers before the issue ended, though. We’re fed some tantalizing bits–such as the fact that her brothers put her in the very tower she escaped from, apparently with the blessing of Raven’s Pirate King father. This is quite a reversal from the flashback scene that opened the issue, which found the King grooming a young Raven to follow in her great-grandmother Ming’s fierce, legendary pirate-of-the-Rim-Sea footsteps.

Rosy Higgins Ted Brandt are a lovely art team on this book, giving the story and action the look and feel of an animated series that would have fit right into the Disney’s afternoon programming block. Sadly, in those days princesses did not get to save themselves. Writer Jeremy Whitley seems more than aware of this fact, and the whole package makes Princeless: The Pirate Princess #1 incredibly appealing to anyone who wants a little less damsel-in-distress and a little more Kick-Ass in their fairy tales.


1 Comments on Review: Princeless: The Pirate Princess #1 packs a punch, last added: 2/15/2015
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19. Kick-Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

One of the ways many people stumbled onto their first comic was through the promotional comics that used to come bundled in with action figures. You know the ones – you buy a He-Man figure, and in the box comes a comic which shows him in action, fighting against all the other characters who coincidentally also have action figures available too.

Well, if you do remember those comics, then here’s a kickstarter for youMichael Moreci, Steve Seeley, and Tim Seeley’s MINI COMICS INCLUDED.

Mini Comics Included will be a set of six mini-comics, which replicate the sort of comics which used to come packaged in with action figures and board games. Each drawn by a different artist, with Moreci and the Seeleys writing all six issues. And if you pledge towards the project, you can get your hands not just on the comics – but also on action figures which have been custom made to go along with the comics.

I spoke to Michael Moreci about the project, and how it came into existence.

mci2 Kick Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

Steve:  Mini Comics Included are based on the comics that used to be enclosed in the box whenever you bought toys like He-Man action figures, or Transformers. What are your memories from those mini-comics?

Michael: I have such amazing memories of Christmas morning, unwrapping presents with my older brother and revealing glorious He-Man action figures. We were into other stuff as well—I was especially a fan of the Super Powers figures—but He-Man was the alpha and omega of my childhood. Rick, my brother, and I would play with these figures all day long, making up stories, designing our own cartoon ideas, and acting them out. We’d cut up comics and paste new panels together that made little sense, but the stories were ours.

As a matter of fact, I really think that’s the beginnings of my love of storytelling in general, the ability—and encouragement from my parents—to make stuff up on my own. To wonder, to imagine. I read so many comics—mainly the minis that accompanied He-Man figures—and watched so many cartoons that the structure of stories got ingrained in me at a young age.

Specifically, with the comics, I was always hooked by the curiosity “what’s next?!” factor. Because, let’s face it, a lot of those comics were simply rad catalogues. Their whole purpose was to show off the next villain or weapon or whatever. Like, He-Man would suddenly bust out this underwater gear and, as an adult I’m like “where the hell did that come from? Dude’s  wearing a loincloth and nothing else…” But as a kid, my mind was immediately set to “must have!” mode. Luckily, my mom worked at a toy store, so I had a hook up.

The comics were cool because, yeah, they were sometimes promo pieces, but they were also simple stories. They were just cool stories that enhanced the experience of being a He-Man fan, or a comic fan.

Steve: Why recreate that style of comic, in particular?

Michael: A lot of the discussions the three of us have regarding comics—and a lot of people have about comics—is the lack of fun, just pure, raw, fun. Guys like Kirby, Mantlo, Toth, you name it, were all exceedingly enthusiastic and had these wild imaginations. And that doesn’t exist all that much anymore. We’re too serious of an industry, like we won’t be regarded enough if we allowed our work to do all those wonderful things comics are capable of doing.

Getting back on point – Steve, Tim , and I have all had this itch to do something that harkens back to this particular comic/cartoon/toy era that we love so much and influenced us so heavily. And we wanted to do it right—nothing watered down, nothing compromised. We want to take readers back to a time when comics were something to enjoy, pure and simple. You read them because you were like “oh my God, who is this new character?! Is he good? Bad? What does this mean?!” But, again, so much of comics, right now, is set in its ways. Stories have to be told in a certain way, for a certain audience, in a certain format. We’re breaking all those rules because, one, we want to do something fun and original and totally unique; and two, we absolutely know people want this. These are the comics we love, but they’re also the comics people want.

Steve: You’ve worked with Steve Seeley frequently, with the current Hoax Hunters series at Image being one of the most high profile works. How did you all come together on this project in particular, and realise it was something you wanted to try and make a reality?

Michael: Steve and I, and Tim, share a similar affinity for this era of nerd culture, that late 70s early 80s cartoon, comic, toy, etc.  I mean, we’re three 30s-ish geeks, how could we not?

It’s not just that, though. We’re also creators who like to think outside the box, creatively and professionally. And doing a Kickstarter has been on our minds for awhile, but we wanted to do it right. Meaning, we wanted their to be a reason we were doing a Kickstarter, not just some cash grab to make good on our names. That’s lame.

So, one night we were drinking—as we are wont to do—and kicking around ideas. We had something there, like we were scratching the surface. We knew we wanted it to be inspired by those comics and toys we loved, but that wasn’t quite enough. It still didn’t have that “okay, but why?” factor. And Tim hit it: Mini comics. Everything took off from there, making them a certain size, getting the toy designers on board, even the weird incentives. Because, truly, this isn’t something we could do anywhere else. Not like this. That’s is what makes it a perfect project for Kickstarter—we’re not just giving away art or head sketches or whatever. We’re all in on this the mini comics theme, and the drive is a ton of fun because of that.

Steve: How has the process of working with the Seeleys been? Both on Hoax Hunters, and now with Mini Comics Included.

Michael: Tim and Steve are like brothers to me. We work really well together because we share both common interests and common values. We’re workers, we’re that prototypical Midwestern no-frills get-the-job-done type professionals. We love what we do, but the cornerstone of how we operate is grounded in dedication to the work.

Yet, as similar as we are, we’re also very different. We each bring something different to the table and, out of that, we refine the best possible product. That’s how Hoax Hunters is—Steve and I often have different sensibilities and have to find a middle ground; the process of doing so makes us really understand where we’re coming from on a story level, and the book is better for it.

mci3 Kick Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

Steve: So, to the comics in particular – how did you decide which characters to use for these stories? Did you have some of the characters in mind already, or did you create them just for this project?

Michael: For the most part, yes. These were kind of pet projects that we knew, to some degree, would not thrive in the Direct Market system. This was an opportunity for us to cast off those shackles and say, “okay, we’re doing these stories right here, right now.” Steve and I have been chipping away at Prime-8s, and we had done an Omega Family short for Double Feature Comics awhile back. Tim had done a Colt Noble one-shot with Image awhile ago as well. His other two ideas are just exercises in weird and crazy stuff that Tim digs. So, beware.

The main requirement, though, was to align the stories with the spirit of the project. This isn’t one big excuse for a vanity press—some stories didn’t make the cut. We were looking for a specific type of playfulness. For instance, Literary Commandos is a G.I. Joe riff; Prime-8s is kind of He-Man meets Ninja Turtles; Colt Noble has He-Man written all over it. The feel of the book matters. Without that, it doesn’t matter what size it is or what toy you may have purchased; the story, and art, has to function. Speaking of, the artists on these titles are incredible. Paul Tucker, Brent Schoonover, Sean Dove, Clint Hiliniski are all absolutely killing on these books, and we selected them because they’re such perfect, perfect fits.

Steve: How long are each of the issues?

Michael: Sixteen total pages for each comic.

Steve: Are there any characters you’re particularly fond of? I couldn’t help but notice there is a frog cyborg, and I immediately need to know everything about this character, please.

Michael: Ha, well, that’s actually a frog totoro, though easily mistaken as a cyborg. He’s the leader of the hyper-evolutionaries who make havoc for the Omegas. That’s all Paul Tucker—his design sensibility and playfulness are out of this world. Watch that name, he’s going places.

Hmmm… favorites. Well, Dracula Man (from Superbeasts) is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve heard in a while. I love the Prime-8s villains, Dogtastrophe (you know, a play CATastrphe, get it?) and the K-G-Bee. And what’s not to love about a four-armed gorilla named Fourilla? There’s Marksman Twain, that’s a good one. Kikintha Balls…oh, and Daxxis from Omega Family. Love that Woolly Mammoth…thing.

Steve: BUT! Has it been difficult to create characters who can match up to the might of The Street Sharks?

Michael: Where would democracy be without them? And Battletoads?

In terms of raw power, I’d need to wrap up Travis Bickle with Driver with a mutated dinosaur to enter the arena. Those were some badass sharks.

mci1 Kick Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED

Steve: How tongue in cheek will the comics be? Looking back now, we’re aware that the comics were a way to try and sell more toys to kids – are you going to play with that, at all, or are you playing things straight? Is it tempting to try a more satirical approach with the stories, and wink at the readers?

Michael: We sort of play with the stories. As mentioned above, we’re totally aware that these comics were often promo pieces, and that’s that. But one thing we absolutely did not want to do was get ironic with this. Nobody enjoys nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. So we had to walk a fine of embracing the  idea too much and making it a sell aware wink at the tradition. I think the balance we have is a good one. We embrace it and honor what we’re working with, but make it our own as well, in a very loving way. Again, we want to recapture that feel of the time, and the best way to do so, we think, is to make it somewhat contemporary but retain the best sensibilities

Steve: How do you see the project moving on, if this Kickstarter is successful? Could we see a second wave in the future?

Michael: Oh boy…that’s like asking a woman who’s crowning if she’s thinking of having another kid. Okay, maybe not QUITE like that, but I’ve already had nightmares about the launch, and I’m writing this before actually doing so. I’m so thrilled about the project, but it’s also going to be a massive undertaking, from start to finish. I would love to do six more titles and make this a thing, and I think Steve and Tim would also. Right now, I’d say I’m hopeful. After all, we still haven’t told the story of the Blasteroids!

Many thanks to Michael for his time. So, one last mention – you can find Mini Comics Included on Kickstarter here. You can also find Michael on Twitter here!

0 Comments on Kick-Watcher: Michael Moreci on MINI COMICS INCLUDED as of 3/5/2013 7:34:00 PM
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20. DC Comics launches a blog for families

THIS IS DCCFF DC Comics launches a blog for families
Sharing your favorite superheroes with your kids is one of the most reward parts of the fan experience, and DC has just launched a Fan Family mini site to promote their family friendly offerings.

This new family-friendly site is designed to deliver the best of the celebrated Super Heroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman with a slew of fun, family-oriented content for parents to share with their kids.

The DC Comics Fan Family blog will serve as an online hub for all DC Entertainment family-friendly news and information, and offer readers a variety of content including DC Comics-themed activity sheets, DIY craft projects, guest blog posts featuring DC Comics talent, the chance for fans to see their own artwork featured with a variety of creative submission contests, and much more!

They’ve also announced contest with Capstone Publishing for 3-6th graders to write about the real life superheroes they know. Winners get a trip for four to the DC Entertainment Offices n Burbank and a VIP tour of the WB Animation Studio, and lots of Capstone and DC merchandise.

In case the name Capstone doesn’t ring a bell, they’re a children’s book publisher with heavy distribution into the educational an dlibrary marktes. They’ve been doing DC based chapter books for years, like this line of Super Pets books.

While people complain about Marvel and DC not doing enough to reach younger readers, they both have pretty robust licensing programs in the kids areas, as this reminds us. As I’ve mentioned before, both publishers have a problem with appearing kid-oriented alienating their core audiences. Licensed books for the kids are a good way around this.

5 Comments on DC Comics launches a blog for families, last added: 3/8/2013
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21. Pre Order Astronaut Academy and get a sketch

201304031142 Pre Order Astronaut Academy and get a sketch
Call this the easy peasy version of a Kickstarter reward: Preorder a copy of Dave Roman’s Astronaut Academy Re-Entry from bookstore WORD! and you’ll get a free sketch.

From now till May 9th, I will sign, personalize, and draw in every copy (of either book 1 or 2) ordered through WORD, you’ll get a free bookmark, andyou’ll be entered into WORD’s exclusive contest. One lucky person will win an Astronaut Academy style portrait of themselves (or whoever the book is a gift for), hanging out with the character of their choice!

Astronaut Academy Re-Entry is the second volume in the series about kids learning to be spacefarers. It’s a lighthearted romp with some fun soap opera elements, manga-infused in appeal but not necessarily art style.

0 Comments on Pre Order Astronaut Academy and get a sketch as of 4/3/2013 6:51:00 PM
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22. The Beat Podcasts! – Heidi interviews Jeff Smith!


Straight from the offices of Publishers Weekly, it’s More to Come! Your podcast source of comics news and discussion starring The Beat’s own Heidi MacDonald.

In a More To Come interview special episode,  Heidi talks with acclaimed indie comics creator Jeff Smith about his Eisner-winning kids’ fantasy epic Bone, his adult sci-fi tale RASL, the advantages and difficulties of being your own publisher, his new Paleolithic webcomic Tuki Save The Humans and much, much more on this episode of Publishers Weekly’s graphic novel podcast. in this podcast from PW Comics World.


Now tune in Fridays at our new, new time for our regularly scheduled podcast!

Stream this episode and catch up with our previous podcasts through the Publishers Weekly website or subscribe to More To Come on iTunes

1 Comments on The Beat Podcasts! – Heidi interviews Jeff Smith!, last added: 9/13/2013
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23. Wimpy Kid #9 takes the Heffleys on the road this November

It’s that time! Time for the #1 graphic novel of the year to be announced!

Abrams Books Amulet imprint has just revealed that the ninth Wimpy Kid book will arrive on November 4, and a teaser image suggests a road trip is in the offing for the fractious Heffley clan.

“I’m taking the Heffleys out of their home environment and sending them out on the road,” said million selling author Jeff Kinney. “Writing about an epic family road trip has really got my creative juices flowing, and I think this could be the funniest book yet.”

The last Wimpy Kid book, Hard Luck, released in November ’13, has sold more than 3 million copies and was the number one selling book in the US last year.

Whether you call it a graphic novel, a hybrid, one of the most successful book series of all times, or Al, Wimpy Kid #9 will probably sell another three million copies.

1 Comments on Wimpy Kid #9 takes the Heffleys on the road this November, last added: 3/21/2014
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24. Nominees and voting announced for 2014 Kids Comic Awards

201405221344.jpgVoting is now open for the second annual Kids Comics Awards, which will be presented June 22nd, during the Kids Read Comics festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The awards are sponsored by Kids’ Comics Revolution!, a podcast dedicated to spotlighting the expanding worlds of kids’ comics and kid lit. Voting is open to kids and can take place via the
online ballot at http://comicsaregreat.com/kcrawards14, or a paper ballot available at the Kids Can Read show OR even printing out the downloadable PDF and mailing it to
Kids’ Comics Revolution,
P.O. Box 1763
Ann Arbor, MI 48106

Nominees for this year’s awards were selected by a council of educators and retailers including Eti Berland, Elisa Gall, Patrick Gall, Laura Given, Sharon Iverson, Calum Johnston, Jennifer Vincent, Colby Sharp, John Schumacher, Maria Selke, Adam Shaffer, Mary Ann Scheuer, Jessica Stork Gilcoes, and Matthew Winner.

And the nominees are:

Favorite Graphic Novel (Adventure):
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff (First Second)
G-Man: Coming Home by Chris Giarrusso (Image)
The Silver Six by AJ Lieberman & Darren Rawlings (Graphix)
Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrel (Top Shelf)
Mouse Guard: The Black Axe by David Petersen (Archaia)

Favorite Graphic Novel (Humor):
Extreme Babymouse by Jennifer and Matthew Holm (Random House)
Lunch Lady and the Video Game Villain by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Knopf)
Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso (Amulet Books)
Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon (First Second)
Stone Rabbit #8 Robot Frenzy by Erik Craddock (Random House)

Favorite Graphic Novel (Non-Fiction/Myth):
Bluffton by Matt Phelan (Candlewick)
Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party by Nathan Hale (Abrams)
Fairy Tale Comics by Various (First Second)
Poseidon: Earth Shaker by George O’Connor (First Second)
Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks (First Second)

Favorite Comic/Novel Hybrid:
Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo Boxers by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic)
Dork Diaries: Tales of a Not-So-Happy Heartbreaker by Rachel Renee Russell (Aladdin)
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell (Candlewick)
Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffery Brown (Scholastic)
Vordak the Incomprehensible: Time Travel Trouble by Scott Seegert and John Martin (Egmont)

Favorite Comic Book Series (Licensed/Franchise):
Adventure Time (Boom)
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search (Dark Horse)
Batman ‘66 (DC Comics)
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW)
Sonic Universe (Archie)

Favorite Comic Book Series (Original/Creator Owned):
Aw, Yeah Comics! By Art Balthazar and Fraco (Aw, Yeah)
Bodie Troll by Jay Fosgitt (Red 5)
Herobear and the Kid by Mike Kunkel (Boom)
Skyward by Jeremy Dale (Action Lab)
Super Dinosaur by Robert Kirkman and Jason Howard (Image)

Favorite Cartoonist/Author:
Faith Erin Hicks
Jennifer and Matthew Holm
Jeff Kinney
Jeff Smith
Kazu Kibuishi


Favorite Webcomic:
Cucumber Quest by Gigi D.G. (cucumber.gigidigi.com)
Gronk by Katie Cook (gronkcomic.com)
Princess at Midnight by Andi Watson (pmmidnight.blogspot.com)
Saturday Morning Webcartoons by Various (saturdaymorningwebcartoons.com)
Yeti 4 Hire by Jeff Crowther (yeti4hire.com)

Cutest Comic Character:
Babymouse (Babymouse)
Beandog & Nugget (Beandog & Nugget)
Chi (Chi’s Sweet Home)
Little Sister (The Big Wet Balloon)
Ulysses the Squirrel (Flora & Ulysses)

Best Hair in Comics:
Aphrodite (Olympians series)
Bodie Troll
Delilah Dirk
Johnny Boo
Salem Hyde

Grossest thing in Comics:
Cannibalism (Hazardous Tale: Donner Dinner Party)
Fregley chewing him with his belly button (Diary of Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck)
Pool full of fish (Mermin: Out of Water)

4 Comments on Nominees and voting announced for 2014 Kids Comic Awards, last added: 5/22/2014
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25. Interview: Kids Read Comics Enters its Sixth Year

By Dave Carter

This coming weekend (June 21-22, 2014) will mark the sixth annual Kids Read Comics Festival. KRC brings together kids (and their families) and cartoonists for two days of comic-centered fun, combining a tradition comics convention with hand-on workshops and other activities.

Last week via email I interviewed one of the KRC founders, teaching artist/cartoonist Jerzy Drozd, about the history of KRC and how the festival has evolved over the years. I had intended to work with Jerzy’s responses to craft a narrative, but his responses were so well-constructed that they really form a narrative on their own. So I present them here with minimal editing.

krc_program_sidebar(Disclaimer: While I am not directly involved with KRC proper, I am one of the organizers of a KRC pre-conference for cartoonists, librarians and educators that runs the day before the main KRC festival.)


What is the ‘secret origin’ of Kids Read Comics? When, where and why did it start? Why did you and your colleagues feel there was a need for a convention/festival/show focused on kids?

The four organizers (Dan Mishkin, Dan Merritt, Edith Donnel, and myself), all followed our own vectors into making what became the Kids Read Comics celebration, and all I can share is the story of how I became involved.

In 2006 I met Dan Mishkin at Heroes Con. During our conversation he handed me a flier with information about Alex Simmons Kids Comic Con, one of the first (if not THE first) comics convention with the explicit intent to serve kids and families. On the flier Dan expressed an interest in starting something similar for the kids of Michigan. At that time I agreed it was a great idea, though I had no idea how I could help. I was making comics for kids, but I had nothing to offer such an event outside of being an exhibitor.

A year later I found myself working as a teaching artist for organizations like ArtServe Michigan’s Literacy Arts Comic Book Project, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and local schools and libraries. When I saw the difference in how kids engage with comics when they participate in the medium, I realized how I might be able to help Dan realize his “comics convention for kids.” Rather than simply exhibit at such a show, I could help advocate for my medium by creating workshops and experiences that get kids really excited about making and reading comics.

It was during these visits to schools and libraries that I met Edith Donnel, Teen Librarian at the Chelsea District Library. After leading a well-attended 6-week comics workshop at her library, Edith expressed an interest in creating some more substantial comics events for kids. I told her about Dan Mishkin’s idea, and she suggested holding the “comics convention for kids” at her library.

Though the Chelsea District Library was well-versed in leading big events (CDL’s Summer Reading kickoff gets the whole town to turn out), we still felt we needed some help in crafting a unique comics event. Dan Mishkin and I both thought of the terrific duo Dan and Katie Merrit of Green Brain Comics, whose Free Comic Book Day festivities are practically a one-day comics convention/advocacy event. We were very glad when they agreed to join us as founding organizers.

From the beginning we realized that a “convention for kids” had to feel different than most comics cons. Of course we would place our focus on showcasing creators whose works are aimed at younger audiences. At traditional comic cons, however, the interactions between creator and fan are mostly in the way of autographs, photo opportunities, panel q&a, and maybe sketch purchases. These can be very rich interactions, but having seen how kids engage with comics when making comics we believed that KRC could do something more.

You don’t have to compel a kid to draw. They’re eager to interact and participate with the things they love. What’s more, by participating in the medium, they better appreciate and enjoy the experience of the medium. In other words, by encouraging writing and drawing, we would help kids become better and more active comics readers. The question we asked ourselves was: How might a convention interaction change if, instead of simply meeting their favorite author, we provided them with the opportunity to draw along side of their favorite author?

(For adult readers, just imagine going to a comic con and instead of simply getting Jack Kirby to autograph your issue of Fantastic Four, you get to sit down and take a free comics class led by him.)

These powerful interactions have led to kids exhibiting their work at Kids Read Comics. At KRC 2010, guest Ryan Estrada met a 7-year-old girl who showed him her series of comic strips along with character designs, relationship charts, and copious notes on where her story was going. She asked Ryan “what does it take to be a professional?” Ryan is a pretty sharp guy, so he had the presence of mind to respond “You already are. What separates you and me is that I’m behind the table. Get in touch with the KRC folks and se about tabling next year.” That young girl did get in touch with us and was a guest at KRC 2011. She’s also a guest at this year’s show. (You can listen to a recording of Ryan telling the story at http://audioboo.fm/boos/140782-best-story-ever )

Once we reframed the notion of a comics convention for kids, we realized that we had the opportunity to do something unique. Kids Read Comics is about promoting great comics for kids. But it’s equally about getting kids to love making comics, thereby making them more active readers of comics. As Dan Mishkin likes to say, “we’re in the business of changing lives.”

When was the first KRC? How has it evolved?

Over the years we’ve experimented with different venues and formats for KRC. Our first show in 2009 was held at the Chelsea District Library, which featured an indoor Artist Alley with many of our hands-on workshops and programs happening both indoors and outdoors. In 2010 we moved to the Dearborn Public Library, which had an impressive amount of space for workshops and demonstrations. We took an “outdoor festival” approach with KRC 2011, returning to the Chelsea District Library. The events at our 2011 show happened all over Downtown Chelsea; we held our interactive Quick Draw events in front of many of the local businesses who also participated in our town-wide scavenger hunt (in which kids were invited to find KRC trading cards containing clues to find the next event location). The Artist Alley was also split between two different locations in Chelsea, which presented an interesting challenge in setting up events to guide the attendees to the artists’ locations.

In 2012, however, we came to roost at the Ann Arbor District Library. We continue our experiments with different venues and programs, but instead of bouncing between towns, we operate within Ann Arbor. This year KRC programs will happen at the Ann Arbor District Library, 826 Michigan, and the Ann Arbor Art Center.

How many people attend KRC?

It’s difficult to give solid numbers because attendance is free with no registration required. Our first year we estimated around 700 attendees, and we had between 1,000-1,500 at our 2013 event.

The most encouraging thing for me is how the show seems to attract a lot families who aren’t necessarily “die-hard” comic book fans. There’s a large investment required in becoming the kind of fan who travels and pays registration fees to meet an actor from a sci-fi TV show or see a panel of creators talk about what’s next for the DC Universe. Because KRC is a free show with a large emphasis on participating in making comics, we’re providing a low-risk way for the general public to explore their curiosity about the medium. What I mean by “low risk” is that you don’t have to hold a doctorate in a fandom’s headcanon in order to participate. Programs like Mark Mariano’s Doodle! Scribble! Draw! get cartoonists and attendees working together to create a visual narrative that only requires imagination and the courage to share one’s work. We’re grateful that KRC attracts engaging, outgoing cartoonists who sincerely want to get people to fall in love with comics. They’re the most important element in attracting the kind of audience you’ll find at KRC.

KRC is free to attend and there is no charge for artists and writers to table. How can you all afford to put on the show?

Since the beginning KRC has relied on the support of forward-thinking libraries like the Chelsea District Library, the Dearborn Public Library, and the Ann Arbor District Library. We also fund our events through grants like the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts, donations from local businesses, and fundraising at conventions and Free Comic Book Day at Green Brain Comics. Another big component in making KRC happen is partnerships with similarly-spirited organizations like the University of Michigan, the Ann Arbor Book Festival, 826 Michigan, and the Ann Arbor Art Center. We four founders gather the cartoonists and put on the show, but it is our partners who provide the venues and resources to make the show possible.

One of the many reasons KRC landed and roosted at the Ann Arbor District Library is the incredible support and resources they provide us. I’m going to interpret the word “afford” to refer to time as well as money, and time is a big one for us, as none of the KRC founders make a dime off of this event. We donate our time to put on the show, and we all have day jobs, so efficiency becomes very, very important. I cannot overstate just how terrific the staff is at AADL. They’re the most competent, committed, and enthusiastic group of people you’re likely to meet, and without their help we just simply couldn’t do any of the really exciting things you’ll find at KRC.

If a creator is interested in participating in KRC, what steps should they take?

The primary qualifications we’re looking for in KRC guests are having a kid-friendly comic, an engaging presence, and a desire to share one’s joy in making comics through a demonstration or workshop. An important distinction between KRC and many other comics shows is that our principal focus is on advocacy. This isn’t a show for the timid or misanthropic!

Disclaimers out of the way, we hold open applications for tables around February of every year. You can follow the KRC Twitter account (http://twitter.com/krcomics) or the KRC Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/kidsreadcomics) for updates. As with most shows, space is limited, but we do our best to fit in nearly everyone who applies.

What have you learned from organizing KRC about comics as a medium?

Anyone who has been around the comics industry for the last 20 years will recall plenty of dire predictions about the “inevitable fall” of comics. In working with committed partners outside of the comics industry, like libraries, universities, literacy advocacy organizations, as well as outgoing, enthusiastic cartoonists, I’ve gained more confidence that comics will be enjoyed by readers for a long time.


Details on this year’s Kids Read Comics Festival can be found on the KRC Website at http://mlatcomics.com/krc/ . You may also wish to view this promotional video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtUjjmWQ0NI

Jerzy Drozd is a teaching cartoonist and illustrator. His latest work, with Dan Mishkin and Ernie Colón, is The Warren Commission Report: A Graphic Investigation into the Kennedy Assassination; it will be released in September by Abrams ComicArts.

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