All Ages

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Chynna Clugston's Queen Bee

Queen Bee
Originally uploaded by scout101.
Received my galley copy of Chynna Clugston's QUEEN BEE yesterday and promptly read it last night. It really is a fun book and has all the things that will appeal to tween girls - fashion, crushes and an American Idol-esque competition complete with some serious psychokinetic battle. There are plenty of Chynna-isms to keep her devoted fans happy -- the cute boy wears a London Calling t-shirt, there's cheeky references to mainstream superhero comics, one word: retro and perfectly timed slapstick humor that had me laugh out loud a few times. QUEEN BEE will be available in book stores in mid-August and will also be available on Scholastic Book Clubs in Canada and the US this Fall.

As well, fellow blogger Johanna Draper Carlson has recommended QUEEN BEE as one of her June 2005 Previews picks.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Post-TCAF link blogging

Still trying to regain my sparkling personality after TCAF, which was all in all an incredible success for everyone who attended. I have tons of pictures and will give a full report of all the kid-related happenings in the next couple of days.

In the meantime, here's what's going on in the world of comics for kids these past few days:

- Newsarama reprints an article from Comic Shop New about ALIAS COMICS as one of the up and coming publishers of 'all ages' material. I haven't had the chance to read any of these books as of yet but we all know my issues with the term all ages from past rants.

- The Pulse has an article written by Alan Gross, the author of NBM's CRYPTOZOO CREW on his experiences with teachers and kids and how they've both responded to his 'family-friendly' comic book.

- The Fourth Rail reviews a self-published kids comic by Brian Clopper called WINGNUT AND FIDGET, about an intergalactic bounty hunter and his wacky sidekick. Brian was one of the first guys I was in contact with about marketing and creating comics for kids back in the day when I was negotiating the Jetcat deal. Nice to see him back creating comics again.

Friday, May 27, 2005

TCAF is upon us

If you happen to live or are visiting Toronto, please stop by the the Scholastic Canada Children's Tent at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival tomorrow and Sunday in Mirvish Village. I'll be taking tons of pictures and reporting on any anecdotes and charming observations. It's going to be a great time for all.

In the meantime, here's a blast from the past -- an interview with me at the Pulse years ago when I had worked with Oni Press and Jay Stephens to put together a collection of Jay's JETCAT CLUBHOUSE comics to sell on Scholastic Book Clubs. This was around the time when the big manga bookstore boom was just catching on and graphic novels didn't have the media attention that they have now.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Tis the convention season

Man, there really hasn't been a lot to talk about in regards to kids comics lately. I'm a bit behind in my reading so instead of going silent for the next week or so I've decided to go with a frivolous post today and outline where I'll be in the upcoming con season.

May 27-29 Toronto Comic Arts Festival -- Scholastic Canada will be sponsoring the kids tent and I'll be manning the booth for most of the weekend. Should be a great time
June 3-5 Book Expo America -- I'll be walking the show with my book club buddies. I'll be in NYC the entire week after that as well if anyone's around to show me a good time.
June 11-12 MOCCA Art Festival -- My first year going to this and I'm very excited.
July 14-17 San Diego Comic-con -- Scholastic will have a big presence at this con this year with a booth featuring Jeff Smith's Bone (of course!) and other upcoming projects

Feel free to stop by and say hello!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


One of the great things about work is sometimes I get to see preview screenings of movies. So today at 9:30am I saw STAR WARS EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITH. Lots of great lightsaber battles and cool space ships but still a pretty illogical story in parts. Watch for multiple decapitations and limbs being chopped off. Fun!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Free Comic Book Day

In deep contemplation
Originally uploaded by scout101.
Proof! Kids do love comics...and with so many great free age-appropriate titles to choose from...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Cine-manga for the little little kids

Tokyopop has announced the launch of a new line of Cine-manga books aimed at ages 3 to 6. They will resemble early readers and feature an average of 2 art panels per page for easy reading. 3 books will start the new Jr. Cine-manga line with one MY LITTLE PONY title and two SESAME STREET titles.

This will definitely help young kids understand how to read comics earlier by introducing the concept of story structure as told through panels. Still not moving towards my dream of new original stories, however, the market these days is very licensing driven so it shouldn't surprise me here.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Disney's W.I.T.C.H.

Senior Vice President of Global Children's Magazines, Disney Publishing Worldwide, Alessandro Belloni gives some background behind Disney's W.I.T.C.H. series over at the Pulse. He knows his marketing and it's very apparent especially with statements like this:

"Our core target is girls 9-13 years of age," continued Belloni. "As this is a very aspirational group, we chose a slightly higher age for our heroines. By doing so, we ensured what we’ve found to be a successful combination of identification and aspiration."

Now that's talking the talk.

I had some issues with Disney/Hyperion releasing this property as a series of chapter books with a few pages of color comics bound in. It felt like Hyperion wasn't prepared to release these as graphic novels even though that was W.I.T.C.H.'s original format. However, with the release of two volumes of pure graphic novels, one available now and another coming this summer, I'm starting to change my tune. I was pretty much prepared to hate W.I.T.C.H especially after reading that it was conceived by "a creative team consisting of scriptwriters, artists, and editors," but took it upon myself to read THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP and was quite surprised -- quality artwork, sharp dialogue and a solid story. It's definitely not the most original work and does read like a mass market property (the book just screams dolls with removable clothes and magical accessories) but the series does touch on experiences that most tweens will identify with.

I still have my ongoing gripe that we need more children's graphic novels that can form a canon of in this category instead of just taking the easy route with licensed properties and turning them into graphic novel form. There's definitely a place in the market for this stuff, like the SpongeBob Squarepants chapter books or Barbie early readers but I'm just itching for some more books with a singular creative vision.

Hyperion boasts that they've sold over a million copies of W.I.T.C.H. so far in North American in its various formats. I've personally seen ok sales but nothing to deem it super hot. Sometimes it takes a while for properties like this to really catch on and with a cartoon on its way that's sure to help raise W.I.T.C.H. popularity in the children's book market.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

USA Today talks graphic novels

USA Today has a great article talking about the importance of graphic novels and comics books in helping to encourage positive reading experiences in and outside of the classroom and to increase school library participation.

From the article:

So the artists were taken aback when the librarians professed that they already were in love with comics and wanted more. "I'm like, 'Hello? Is there a gas leak in here?' " says Smith, the creator of Bone, the epic adventures of a trio of cartoon cousins. "We were used to being told comics are bad."

I can attest to this -- I remember being told I couldn't use Tales of the New Teen Titans: Cyborg for a book report in Grade 2 because it wasn't a real book. Nice to see over 20 years later, attitudes towards comics finally changing.