Happy Anniversary, Graphix! + News!

January 30th, 2015

Hey, guys! Yesterday was Graphix’s Tenth Anniversary! My publisher (an imprint of Scholastic) is one decade old, and I’m pleased to say I’ve been working with them since the beginning! I signed my first contract in 2004, and my first Baby-sitters Club graphic novel was published in 2006. It has been a wild and wonderful ride, and we’re all looking forward to more great stuff in the future.

A few comics news sites broke the story about several upcoming Graphix books yesterday, and included among the news was the fact that…I’ve signed up to do three more books! That, plus the one I’m currently working on, means I’ll be publishing FOUR graphic novels between now and 2022.

While I can’t tell you any of the specifics yet, the press release teases that I’ll be doing (another) nonfiction family story (along the lines of Smile and Sisters), a collection of short stories, and a fictional graphic novel. I have lots of ideas and I’m looking forward to getting them out of my head and onto paper!

But for now, it’s back to work on my current project, which is a fiction story with a fantastic setting, slated for 2016. I hope to be able to share more details soon.

That’s all for the moment!

#iDrawThisBig

January 19th, 2015

My friends over at the Nerdy Book Club asked illustrators to post a sample of the size they create their original work at, and use the hashtag #iDrawThisBig. The quarter is there for reference, but I think the better reference is the books themselves — all of my books have the same trim size, so you can easily see the paper size in contrast to the books in the photos. I posted my results on Instagram along with some annotations, but thought you guys might like to see them too, and putting everything in one post seemed like a good idea.

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First up: SMILE! Smile and Sisters were both drawn on 9×12 Bristol board. When I began Smile as a weekly webcomic back in 2004, my goal was to spend as little time as possible on each page, and working small kept me in line. It also lent a sense of intimacy to such a personal project. I repeated this technique with Sisters, as you will see! Drama and the four Baby-sitters Club graphic novels were all drawn larger. Also, for those interested, Smile is my only published book to date with hand-lettering. All of the others were lettered with a font based on my handwriting.

Fun fact…I chose to show this page because it takes place on my first day as a student at Lowell High School in San Francisco…and my 20-year reunion is this fall!! Time truly flies when you’re having fun.

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Next : DRAMA! Drama pages were drawn on 11×14 Bristol board. The four Baby-sitters Club graphic novels were also drawn at this paper size. Drama is the project where I began adding panel borders digitally. It saves some time and ensures the margins are straight, which pleases the design team at the publisher! I chose this page because I love bookstores.

Fun fact…The store in this scene is called Longacre’s…Mrs. Longacre was a frequent substitute teacher at my elementary school, and she subbed long-term in my third grade class while my regular teacher had surgery or something. Mrs. L was kind and caring, in stark contrast to our regular teacher, who was an angry, tough lady, and I remember that being a wonderful month within a really difficult year. However, both teachers left a mark, and I learned SO much from both of them.

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Finally, SISTERS! It was actually quite challenging to go back to this smaller paper size after Drama, but I felt that it was important to work similarly to the way I created Smile, because this was a companion book. My working methods changed a lot between Smile and Sisters, though…I no longer hand-letter the dialog (although I still create sound effects by hand) and panel borders are digital. I have also worked with a different colorist on each project, although I have had the same editor, book designer, and letterer since Smile. It’s nice to have a team that’s comfortable working together!

Fun fact…We really did hit this huge storm while driving across Nevada, and Lovelock, NV was the town we stopped in to wait it out for the night. We had planned to go further, but traveling requires thinking on your feet sometimes. To this day, when my sister and I joke about the worst places we’ve ever been in our lives, that town always tops the list! I’m sure it’s totally fine now, but in 1991 (when Sisters takes place) it was pretty sad. Especially in a torrential storm.

Hope you enjoyed this peek into my studio!

Comics!!

January 5th, 2015

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Whoa, so…every year, The Beat, which has long been my favorite comics news source, asks folks across the industry to cast their vote for the Person of the Year, defined as “the most important person, someone who had the biggest impact, an innovator, someone who set the pace, or had a banner year creatively” in comics.

This year, I won.

I can certainly concede that my 2014 was incredible, and felt like it built in intensity with each passing month. But to round it out with this honor is astounding…my career feels like it’s pretty swell to me personally, but being recognized by my peers is on a whole other level of awesome.

I’ve loved comics for a long time. From the day I discovered them as a kid, there’s been little else I’ve been so passionate about, and nothing else I wanted to do more. I’ve been fortunate to be able to make work I care about, and to have such great readers along the way, as well as a community of people that supports me and cheers me on.

So, thank you!

Congratulations to all the other people nominated for the PotY, too — smart, talented, hard-working people who deserve just as much (if not more) credit as I do.

Happy New Year!

December 31st, 2014

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I’m ending the year on a sweet note — the Wall Street Journal has published an article called The New Wave of Graphic Novels, which talks about the last ten years and how things have shifted and changed in my industry, and heavily features me and my work. I couldn’t be prouder.

2014 has been a banner year for me. It had its ups and downs, but overall, it has been an overwhelming success. The debut of SISTERS surpassed my (and my publisher’s) wildest expectations, and it was a real treat to meet so many of my incredible readers on my book tour.

Then, I came home and finished the first draft of the script for my next graphic novel — the article hints at some of the themes in the story towards the end. I’ll spend most of 2015 at my desk (pictured!) creating the art, and in 2016, I’ll have another book to share with all of you!

So, thank you.
Without you guys, none of this would be possible. Thanks for letting me share my stories, and for sharing so many of your own in return. I’m looking forward to even bigger and better things in 2015, and beyond!

photo by Sasha Maslov for the Wall Street Journal

GoRaina Holiday Shop — Shipping Deadlines are Soon!

December 7th, 2014

One last reminder about holiday orders and shipping deadlines!

***Signed copies of my books can be ordered from my local indie bookstore, Astoria Bookshop, and they will ship it directly to you! Please submit orders by December 17 (Dec. 10 for int’l orders) to assure they arrive in time for Christmas. (Need some suggestions for other graphic novels to gift? Here’s a list!)

***SMILE T-shirts are BACK! We’re taking orders for the holiday season over on THE COMICS BAKERY website. Please place your holiday orders by December 17 at the very latest to receive them in time for Christmas!

***If you’re looking for original artwork, I sell pages from the Baby-sitters Club graphic novels right here on my site! Please order by December 10, as the packages are a specialized size and therefore sometimes take a little longer for the post office to process and send.

***ALA SMILE posters are available from ALA’s website!

Thanks, everyone. Back to work for me!