All Ages

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Canadian publishers get on the graphic novel field

Picked up off of my Publisher's Weekly Childrens Bookshelf newsletter:

Patsy Aldana at Groundwood Books has purchased Skim, a YA graphic novel by Toronto playwright Mariko Tamaki, with artwork by her cousin, New York-based illustrator Jillian Tamaki. Set in 1992 suburban Toronto and written in the form of a diary, Skim was originally a 24-page, one-shot comic collaboration riffing on goth-girl angst. The Tamakis will expand it to a 96-page graphic novel that's pegged as "a dark romance about rebellion, friendship, and bittersweet first love for Goth private school girls." While Groundwood has already published graphic fiction of sorts, such as Nicolas Debon's award-winning Four Pictures by Emily Carr, this is the publisher's first foray into full-length graphic fiction for young adults. The book is scheduled for spring 2008.

Considering what I've heard about BONE's success in Canada, as well as the widespread critical acclaim and of Drawn and Quarterly's LOUIS RIEL, it's no surprise to see smaller Canadian publishers making the effort to acquire graphic novels to their lists. Are Canadians just more open to the format? Who knows... Penguin Canada has also already made the jump into the adult graphic novel field with their book DRAGONSLIPPERS, but this is the first foray into the YA market.

I'm just wondering if 96 pages is meaty enough to really stand out on a shelf.

Monday, November 07, 2005

YALSA makes it happen!

The Young Adult Library Services Association has released its list of nominations in their newest book list category. The Great Graphic Novels for Teens list will be released in sometime in midwinter 2007. This is the first acclaimed list associated with libraries and dedicated solely to the format. While librarians have embraced graphic novels as a way to excite kids and teens to read for years, this is definitely an indication that the support is now out there in pushing them as a valid and growing form of literacy. Both YALSA and ALA are organizations with strong voices in the children's book community and any kind of official list is a step in the right direction.

According to the YALSA website, the final list will be compiled using the following criteria:
- appropriateness for young adults aged 12-18
- how well image and word are integrated
- clarity of the panel's flow on the page
- ability of the images to convey the necessary meaning
- quality of the artwork's reproduction.

The committee making the choices for the final list are all librarians (both school and public, very important here) and included are Dawn Rutherford, a very well-known YA librarian who dyed her hair in order to get kids to read more and Robin Elizabeth Brenner who runs the excellent website, No Flying No Tights. The rest of the committee can be found here. What I'm most curious about is who is actually nominating these books. The list is quite ecclectic with a mix of manga, superhero and alt indie titles, but surprisingly no books from Marvel Comics.

Some commentary below on the nominees:

Burns, Charles. Black Hole. Random House/ Pantheon Graphic Novels, 2005. 24.95. (0-375-42380-X).
A very very dark book about the isolation and grotesqueness of being an adolescent - totally belongs here.

Clugston, Chynna. Queen Bee. Scholastic/ Graphix, 2005. 16.99. (0-439-71572-5).

Yay! Pat Scholastic on the back...

Crane, Jordan. The Clouds Above. Fantagraphics Books, 2005. 18.95. (1-56097-627-6).
I love this book but it's almost too much of a fetish object to be here.

Holm, Jennifer L. Babymouse: Our Hero. Random House/ Books for Young Readers, 2005. 5.95. (0-375-83230-0).
Definitely not for the 12-18 set. This is Random House's first graphic novel squarely aimed at ages 7-10. A review will come later.

Katayama, Kyoichi. Socrates in Love: Volume One. VIZ Media/ Shojo Beat Manga, 2005. 8.99. (1-4215-0199-6).
Takanashi, Mitsuba. Crimson Hero. VIZ Media/ Shojo Beat Manga, 2005. 8.99. (1-4215-0140-6).
Yazawa, Ai. Nana. VIZ Media, 2005. 8.99 . (1-4215-0108-2).

Three titles originating from Shojo Beat magazine -- considering all the hype this summer about how this book was going to change the industry, things have been very quiet. Although, I've very much looking forward to reading Nana when it comes out in early December.

Meltzer, Brad. Identity Crisis. DC Comics, 2005. 24.99. (1-4012-0688-3).
Pekar, Harvey. The Quitter. DC ComicsVertigo, 2005. 19.99. (1-4012-0399-X).
Vaughn, Brian K. Ex Machina Volume 2: Tag. DC Comics/ Wildstorm Signature Series, 2005. 12.99. (1-4012-0626-3).
Baker, Kyle. Plastic Man Volume 2: Rubber Bandits. DC Comics, 2006. 14.99. ( 1-4012-0729-4).

Four very different titles from DC Comics and I'm just having a really hard time seeing any of them having a wider appeal to a teen audience.

Quick, Jen Lee. Off*Beat. TokyoPop Media, 2005. 9.99. (1-59816-132-6).
Rivkah. Steady Beat: Volume One. TokyoPop, 2005. 9.99. (1-59816-135-0).

Two OEL titles from Tokyopop -- they seem to be shifting their attention to this list and pushing them hard in the teen market. It will be interesting to see what ones come out on top.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Graphix swag


I'm promised Raina a few weeks ago that I'd upload a picture of the new BABYSITTERS CLUB promotional backpack clips, so here they are. I've also included the sassy QUEEN BEE change purse that we gave away at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival back in May and at Comic-Con in San Diego in July. Fun stuff -- I'm thinking AMULET action figures would be really cool.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Graphic novels, parents & teachers

There's been two instances in the past few days that I've had contact with people who were involved some way in promoting graphic novels to kids through the educational system.

I received a call on Thursday from an enthusiastic parent who wanted to talk to me more about graphic novels for kids. Her daughter had bought a copy YOTSUBA&! from Scholastic Book Clubs and completely engrossed in it. The parent remarked to me that admittedly had no prior knowledge to comics or graphic novels but was so happy to see her daughter enthusiastic for reading. And now the little girl was planning on doing her own comic and planned on formatting it in the traditional Japanese style, read left to right. She's 10 years old.

I also received an email from Scott Tingley, a grade 1 teacher who has recently launched a website called Comics in the Classroom, dedicated to bringing knowledge to parents and teachers about great comics for kids. The site will eventually feature reviews, related articles, community projects, lesson plans and more.

With this sudden surge of people realizing the value of comics at the educational level, I felt it was a good time to bring attention to a pamphlet that Scholastic published about a month ago called Using Graphic Novels in the Classroom. This is the perfect primer for any teacher who is thinking of introducing graphic novels into their curriculum and for any parent who unsure of the value and suitability of graphic novels for their children.


The two main contributors here are Philip Crawford, Library Director for Essex Junction High School in Vermont and Stephen Weinder, Director of the Maynard Public Library in Maynard, Massachusetts -- both are highly regarded as experts in the field of graphic novels for youth librarians and teachers. Topics in the pamphlet include overview of graphic novels (what they are, are they suitable for kids, lists of recommended titles), why graphic novels are good in the classroom (how they promote literacy and enhance the curriculum, etc.), an introduction of BONE along with number of hands-on classroom activities.

I'm not sure how widespread this pamphlet is, but I highly recommend it. If you want a copy please visit Scholastic's website or email me at and I will track down a copy for you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What are you doing on Saturday?

My friend Chris Butcher of The Beguiling and, in conjunction with the Toronto Public Library, is putting on the first of hopefully many events bringing young readers and graphic novels together. Whether you're an aspiring graphic novelist or a fan of video games, manga or superheroes, this will be a lot of fun.

Monday, September 26, 2005

SPX 2005

Just got back from SPX and thought I'd share a little since I was berated by many people -- including bloggers David and Joanna for not blogging enough lately. It's true...I've been a bad monkey. Rich Stevens of Diesel Sweeties designed the badges this year and made sure to make the VIP badge as obnoxious as possible. Lucky me I got to walk around with its air of video game pomposity around my neck. (Thanks Steve for the totally unexpected perk!)

My trip to Bethesda was a pretty last minute one when my weekend cottage plans fell through. I managed to hitch a ride with my pal Chris Butcher and his ragtag band of comics creators in a mini van and spent 10-ish hours driving south to Maryland. My intent was to enjoy this show, buy a few cool books for myself and get jazzed into doing my own writing again. I remembered how inspiring SPX was last year and hoped that I'd get the same feeling this year. I didn't really have any intention of doing the whole Scholastic thing this time, although the VIP badge had some people asking questions but I kept my answers to the bare minimum. I wanted to be a bit incognito

SPX isn't really a show with a focus on kid-related material anyways, although last year there was a decent component mostly because of Jeff Smith's attendance and the panel on creating kids comics. Although I did do my rounds and spoke with a lot of great kids comic creators that I had already talked to at the other conventions I attended this year including Andy Runton, Aaron Renier and John Gallagher.

Buying highlights
- buying Hope Larson's SALAMANDER DREAM in person, especially with the rounded corners she manually cut herself with her own corner rounding machine
- finally buying Kean Soo's JELLABY -- very excited to read this

Social highlights
- properly congratulating Raina and Dave on their engagement
- hanging out with the gay comics contingent -- especially my good friends Tim and Kyle

And yes, I did come out of the show definitely all hyped up to start my own work. Mission accomplished...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Erik Larsen on kids comics

From his current column over at CBR:

Many companies make an attempt to publish comics for kids. Most don’t pull it off. My kids could not care less about most of the comics, which are, allegedly, aimed at them. Big winners around my house include DC’s "Plastic Man" by Kyle Baker (and the "Plastic Man Archives" by Jack Cole) and Bongo’s "The Simpsons," which is, quite possibly, the most faithful translation of a cartoon to comic book ever.

Other favorites include "Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth," "Tin Tin," "Captain Marvel Adventures" and nearly everything Lee & Kirby did together.

Why do I get the feeling he's automatically defaulting to Marvel and DC here.