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Upcoming Events

2014 will be full of events, but mostly in the second half of the year. I'll be adding lots of things to this space in the coming months, so keep checking back!

Public Lecture at
Austin Peay State Univ.

Clarksville, TN
Wednesday, April 16
7pm
Sundquist 106a

TCAF
Toronto, ON
May 10-11

Gaithersburg Book Festival
Gaithersburg, MD
Saturday, May 17
Presenting at 1:15pm!

Book Expo America (BEA)
New York, NY
May 29-31

ALA Annual
Las Vegas, NV
June 26-July 1

San Diego Comic-Con
San Diego, CA
July 23-27

SISTERS is in stores!!
August 26, 2014

Small Press Expo
Bethesda, MD
September 13-14

Sheboygan Children's Book Fest
Sheboygan, WI
October 11-12

NCTE
Washington, DC
November 20-23

Fairy Tale Comics: Out Now!

September 23rd, 2013 | Permalink


Fairy Tale Comics is in stores TODAY!

I wrote and drew an 8-page Rapunzel story. Here’s a short interview about my story I did with the librarian book blog, Stacked. The other stories in this book are really good, and the cartoonists who drew them are amazing! You should seek out their other work if you like what you see!


Here’s a panel from my story.

Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists
Various authors; edited by Chris Duffy
Published by First Second
Hardcover; 128 pages
ISBN: 9781596438231

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Book Fests! Princeton, NJ and Brooklyn, NY!

September 16th, 2013 | Permalink

This weekend you can find me at TWO book festivals!

Princeton Children’s Book Festival
Saturday, September 21
Signing in the Purple Tent from 11am-4pm
Presenting my work from 2:20-2:30pm
Books for sale via JaZams of Princeton!

Brooklyn Book Festival
Sunday, September 22
Event: Comics Quick Draw!
11:00am
Three cartoonists face off in this fast-paced battle of the sharpies. Drawing from audience suggestions, the award-winning and reader-adored Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Platypus Police Squad: the Frog who Croaked), Eisner Award-winner Raina Telgemeier (Drama), and Printz Award and National Book Award-winner, Gene Yang (Boxers & Saints) will battle with pen and pad. And, everybody wins; finished art will be gifted to some of the lucky young people in attendance. Moderated by Calvin Reid (Publishers Weekly Comics World).
Location: Youth Stoop (Borough Hall Plaza/Columbus Park)
Book signing immediately to follow.

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Small Press Expo: 9/14-9/15 in Bethesda, MD!

September 9th, 2013 | Permalink

This weekend is the Small Press Expo (aka SPX) in Bethesda, MD! I’m a special guest this year. You can find me at table #K1-2 both days with copies of all my books, original art, and a few t-shirts. I’ll also be on the following panel:

Raina Telgemeier and Gene Yang in Conversation
Saturday, September 14
3:00 – 4:00
The rise of comics for younger readers has been among the most striking developments in comics publishing of the past decade. Raina Telgemeier’s YA graphic novels Smile and Drama have both been New York Times Graphics Books #1 Bestsellers; Gene Yang’s YA book American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award, among other honors. These two artists join us for a unique conversation about their work, moderated by journalist Chris Mautner.
Location: White Oak Room

If you’ve never been to SPX before, it’s one of the most welcoming small press comics events in the country. From SPX’s tumblr, here’s a list of first-time-attendee questions and answers!

See you there!

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September Events! Bethesda, Princeton, and Brooklyn x2!

September 4th, 2013 | Permalink

It’s September, and the fall event circuit is gearing up. Here’s where you can find me this month:

September 14-15
Small Press Expo
Bethesda, MD
I’m a special guest at this year’s SPX! You can find me at table #K1-2 both days with copies of all my books, original art, and a few t-shirts. I’ll also be on the following panel:

Raina Telgemeier and Gene Yang in Conversation
Saturday, September 14
3:00 – 4:00
The rise of comics for younger readers has been among the most striking developments in comics publishing of the past decade. Raina Telgemeier’s YA graphic novels Smile and Drama have both been New York Times Graphics Books #1 Bestsellers; Gene Yang’s YA book American Born Chinese was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award, among other honors. These two artists join us for a unique conversation about their work, moderated by journalist Chris Mautner.
Location: White Oak Room

If you’ve never been to SPX before, it’s one of the most welcoming small press comics events in the country. From SPX’s tumblr, here’s a list of first-time-attendee questions and answers!

*****

Saturday, September 21
JUST ADDED! Princeton Children’s Book Festival
Princeton, NJ
Check back for program and signing schedule soon!

*****

Sunday, September 22
Brooklyn Book Festival
Brooklyn, NY

Comics Quick Draw!
11:00am
Three cartoonists face off in this fast-paced battle of the sharpies. Drawing from audience suggestions, the award-winning and reader-adored Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Platypus Police Squad: the Frog who Croaked), Eisner Award-winner Raina Telgemeier (Drama), and Printz Award and National Book Award-winner, Gene Yang (Boxers & Saints) will battle with pen and pad. And, everybody wins; finished art will be gifted to some of the lucky young people in attendance. Moderated by Calvin Reid (Publishers Weekly Comics World).
Location: Youth Stoop (Borough Hall Plaza/Columbus Park)
Book signing immediately to follow.

*****

Sunday, September 29
Fairy Tale Comics Event and Signing
Community Bookstore
Brooklyn, NY
11:00am
Meet three of the talented cartoonist contributors to the new comic anthology Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists: Raina Telgemeier, Charise Mericle Harper, and Brett Helquist! Each cartoonist will introduce their fairy tale adaptation and kids will have the opportunity to participate in a brief drawing workshop. Ages four and up.

*****

Hope to see you! I’ve got more events coming in October, and I’ll post about those closer to the fact. Enjoy your fall…the best season of all!

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One Year…

September 1st, 2013 | Permalink

My next graphic novel, SISTERS, will be out one year from today!

I know that seems like a long time, but I’m still drawing it. I’ll finish up the art around New Years, then the book goes into production (more about what that means here and here), and the finished product will be in stores on September 1, 2014. I hope to announce book tour dates sometime late next summer.

I’ve been posting process shots over on Facebook and Instagram (@goraina). Here’s just a little bit of the work in progress that is making a 200-page graphic novel…


I think it will be worth the wait!

Anyway, all is not lost! I’ve got short stories in several anthologies coming out between now and Sisters’ release date:


Fairy Tale Comics
I wrote and drew an 8-page Rapunzel story.
In stores September 24!


Explorer: The Lost Islands
I drew a 16-page story, written by Dave and colored by Braden (who is also coloring Sisters!).
In stores October 15!

Funny Pages: Recess
I wrote and drew 14 pages for this anthology.
In stores July, 2014!

*****

Post a comment on my Facebook page!

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Advice for Budding Cartoonists

August 25th, 2013 | Permalink

I get letters and emails from a LOT of aspiring writers, artists, and cartoonists, asking for tips and advice. Without knowing each of you personally, it’s hard to be too specific, but I do have some general advice for budding creators that I can share!

READ.

Sounds obvious, but it bears mentioning: The best way to learn how to write is to read. The best way to learn how to write and draw comics, is to read comics. (Or manga, or graphic novels, or whatever you want to call them.) Study your favorite books. Read them out loud. Look up any words you’re unfamiliar with. What appeals to you? Why? Read outside of your favorite genres—you might discover some new favorites!

Practice, practice, practice.

Practice drawing all the time. Take classes. Keep a sketchbook. Draw from life as often as you can. Draw things you’re not comfortable drawing. You’ll only improve.



Sketchbook pages from a visit to Muir Woods in Northern California.

Share.

For years, I was too shy to show anyone my comics. But, once you start to share, people can enjoy them, give you feedback, and help you improve. You might even meet people who share your interests, and now you’ve got a support system! Don’t wait to start sharing your work!

I met my husband Dave through comics! He’s a cartoonist, too!

Collaborate.

Not everyone is the best artist. Not everyone is the best writer. But maybe you can do one and your friend can do another. Team up to create something!

Young cartoonist collaborators in Portland, Oregon.

Small is okay.

Often, young cartoonists have ideas for long, multi-volume, epic series. They are planning out the story arcs and worldbuilding and drawing hundreds of pictures of character costumes. Why not try creating a short story using these characters and this world, instead? It’s a better and faster way to get to know them. Creating short stories (1 page, 3 pages, 10 pages…) is a great way to improve your craft.



From a silent 3-page story called Small Steps.

Self-publish.

Also known as: make mini-comics! Xerox your pages, fold and staple them into booklets, and share or sell them with your friends. You can absolutely call yourself a self-published author, because you make mini-comics! Here’s a link to a mini-comic making tutorial.

My mini-comic series, Take-Out. Each was 12 pages long, black and white. I handmade and sold/distributed about 7,000 copies, total, of my minis!

Post your comics online.

Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, DeviantArt…pick a social networking platform, and start sharing your work online. Don’t worry too much about things like copyright. If you can give yourself some sort of schedule (one page per week; two comics per month; whatever seems comfortable), you’ll build an audience and build up a body of work before you know it.

Do it ‘cause you love it.

If you want to make comics or any kind of art…don’t let anyone stop you!

*****

This essay was originally posted on Inside A Dog. Copyright Raina Telgemeier.

Post a comment on my Facebook page!

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A Tour of my Workspace

August 19th, 2013 | Permalink

I thought I’d share a look at my desk! It’s messy, but most of the mess is stuff I reach for on a regular basis.

Here’s view number one:

Stuff you can see in this photo:

•My bulletin board. Full of reference, inspiration, art from fans.
•A t-shirt I designed for a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk team, featuring the BSC’s very own Stacey.
•Below that, a cardboard box full of fan letters. I need to answer these.
•My laptop. This has my script on it, plus music, reference, email, and the inevitable Twitter.
•Empty teacup number one.
•Old photos. I’m working on a book about my sister and I when we were little, so, old family photos are helpful!
•Pens. Brushes. Lip balm.
•A bunch of old sketchbooks.
•The paper (Bristol board) for the pages I’m drawing.
•A necklace made of sculpey, of the happy face from the cover of Smile, made by my fans/friends!
•Under the desk: an old monitor somebody gave me, that I haven’t found a good use for yet.

And view number two:

•The page I’m working on!
•My pencil, eraser, and blue layout pencil.
•More photos.
• Full teacup.
•Little IKEA desk lamp.
•iPod speaker doc.
•Empty teacup number two.
•Used tissue. I’ve had pretty bad allergies this season!
•Color wheel. I don’t use this much anymore, but I like it.
•Cup of water for rinsing my brushes.
•Bin full of ink, thumbtacks, pencil sharpener, scissors, and miscellany.
•Space heater, down below. My studio is badly insulated, and FREEZING in winter!
•Outside the window: Queens, New York. My view is of a couple of parking spaces, a few trees, and the apartments across the way. There are a couple of stray cats that like to sit on top of my neighbors’ cars, and I like watching them. The window faces west, so I get some pretty nice sunsets here.


I don’t always work at my desk!

What about you? What things are essential to your workspace?

*****

This essay was originally posted on Inside A Dog. Copyright Raina Telgemeier.

Post a comment on my Facebook page!

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‘Beginnings’ in Japanese!

August 18th, 2013 | Permalink

A few days ago, I learned that the manga Barefoot Gen has been banned from some schools in Japan for its depiction of violence. If you’ve ever seen me talk, you might know that Barefoot Gen is one of my seminal influences as a cartoonist, and I hold its creator Keiji Nakazawa in the highest regard. Mr. Nakazawa passed away last December, and I never wrote a proper eulogy for him, but I wrote a short comic over a decade ago called Beginnings, which says everything I wanted to say about the book and what it means to me.

I received a very kind letter from a father in Japan (@unpocketable on Twitter) over the weekend, who was frustrated over the book banning and came across my short story. He asked if he could translate my comic into Japanese for his young daughter to read, and to share with some of her friends and others in his community. I was delighted by the idea, and he sent me the translated version so I could share it here on my website, too. Without further ado:



Thanks to @unpocketable, and again, the original English version of Beginnings can be read right here on my site.

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In Which I Recommend Some Graphic Novels

August 18th, 2013 | Permalink

Hey, so you like my books! I’m so happy, thank you!!


“I’ve read this a couple of times…what else you got?”

If you enjoyed Smile, Drama, or my Baby-sitters Club graphic novels, here are some suggestions for graphic novels and comics to read next.

The best way to get a hold of most of these titles is to ask your favorite local bookstore or comic shop to order them for you. You can also buy them via online retailers like Amazon and Indiebound.org. And you can always request them at your local library!

For Ages 8 and Up:


My webcomics!

Hey, maybe you haven’t read them yet! I’ve got a whole pile of short-story comics right here on my website. Some of these are over a decade old; some of them are newer. Many of them were originally published in my minicomic series, Take-Out, and some were created for other web or print venues.

Astronaut Academy

By Dave Roman

Character-driven stories about kids who go to school on a space station. Really fun if you like anime, manga, video games, word play, and space ninjas!

Babymouse

By Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

She may be a mouse, but she has many of the problems kids face in their regular lives: homework, a messy locker, bullies at school. Babymouse also has a massive imagination, which helps her overcome!

Lunch Lady

by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

A school cafeteria lunch lady who is also a superhero! All of her tools and gadgets are made from kitchen tools and common household objects.

Zita the Spacegirl

By Ben Hatke

An adventure comic with a big heart, beautifully illustrated.

Yotsuba&!

By Kiyohiko Azuma

My favorite manga of all time. Hilarious, simple, and some of the best comic timing I’ve ever seen.

Giants Beware

By Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado

A girl who wants to fight monsters, surrounded by a town of medieval characters. Claudette and her friends make a winning team.

Ameila Rules!

By Jimmy Gownley

Amelia and her mom move to a new town, and this series follows the adventures of Amerlia and her new friends. A fourth-grade lens on real life.

Bone

By Jeff Smith

An absolute classic. Epic story, funny characters, surprising depth, jaw-dropping artwork.

Amulet

By Kazu Kibuishi

Kazu is bringing an animated, Miyazaki-like sensibility to the comics page, and creates an exciting adventure along the way. One of the most gorgeously-drawn comics available today.

The Secret Science Alliance

By Eleanor Davis

If you like jam-packed artwork full of tiny, interesting details, this one’s for you.

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

By Barry Deutsch

An 11-year-old orthodox Jewish girl who wants to fight monsters? Sweet!

Chiggers

By Hope Larson

Summer camp! Secrets! Cute boys! Lightning!

Guinea P.I.G.: Pet Shop Private Eye

By Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue

Super sweet and super funny. Kids who love animals will love this series.

To Dance

By Mark Siegel and Siena Cherson Siegel

An autobiographical graphic novella about a girl who aspires to be a ballerina.

Mal and Chad

By Stephen McCranie

A kid scientist and his talking dog. Love it!

Bird & Squirrel on the Run

By James Burks

A buddy road trip comedy, made even more fun by animal protagonists and solid cartooning.

Sidekicks

By Dan Santat

A houseful of pets all aspire to be their superhero owner’s new sidekick. Delightfully drawn.

Calvin and Hobbes, any volume

By Bill Watterson

Probably the best comic strip of all time. Brilliantly drawn and written, with a lot to say about the world we live in. A must.



For Better or For Worse, especially the volumes published between 1983 and 1990

By Lynn Johnston

My very favorite comic strip, which also taught me how engrossing realistic fiction could be. I credit FBorFW with paving the way for the kinds of comics and stories I like to create today, as well as being the biggest influence on my art style.

For Ages 12 and Up:

Friends with Boys

By Faith Erin Hicks

Faith is quickly becoming the premier YA graphic novelist of our day and age, and Friends With Boys is her strongest work to date. It’s about homeschooling, public high school, a missing mother, a bunch of crazy brothers…and a ghost.

Anya’s Ghost

By Vera Brosgol

Setting the YA comics bar extremely high, this is an expertly written and drawn graphic novel with a spooky edge. Vera is a storyboard artist for Laika Studios (Coraline, ParaNorman), and it shows in every panel.

American Born Chinese

By Gene Luen Yang

A powerful story about the Chinese-American experience, an ancient Chinese fable, and a look at racism in society…all converging into one narrative, and accessible to any reader. ABC was the first (and so far, only!) comic to win the prestigious Printz Award, as well as a National Book Award finalist.

Will & Whit

By Laura Lee Gulledge

Artsy kids, heartbreak, and a hurricane! If you’re a fan of Drama in particular, this book would serve as a wonderful companion.

The! Greatest! Of! Marlys!

by Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry’s comics were my YA, before YA really even existed. She’s been writing teen stories with an incredibly clear voice since the early 80s. This book collects many of the stories about Maryls and her sister Maybonne, and is probably better categorized as being at the young end of YA comics lit. Raw, ugly, hilarious, and poignant.

Please note: I’ve focused on books that I think are appropriate for my target readers, who mostly range between ages 8 and 13. You may be older or younger, but in general my books are considered “middle grade,” and this list focuses on graphic novels within that range. This means I’m leaving out some truly quality suggestions, especially for older readers, but there are plenty of resources out there to help you find good comics for the upper end of young adult, and adult readers.

*****

This essay was originally posted on Inside A Dog. Copyright Raina Telgemeier.

Post a comment on my Facebook page!

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What is Style?

August 12th, 2013 | Permalink

Where does style come from? How do you develop one?

A few years ago, I got the chance to turn one of my favorite prose book series, The Baby-sitters Club, into a series of graphic novels.


Here’s the original cover of The Baby-sitters Club: Claudia and Mean Janine, then the cover of my adaptation, and an interior spread.

When my graphic novels debuted, some readers were taken aback because my style is so different from the original portrayal of the characters. It’s true: My artwork has a pretty distinct style. How would you describe it? Some people have used words like cartoony, rounded, smooth, appealing, friendly, retro, warm, young, and loopy to describe my work. This stands in contrast to the original series’ covers, which you might describe as realistic, painterly, or very 1980s. (Were the 1980s a style?! Some people argue that they were…)

I certainly wasn’t born drawing the way I do. I’ve spent the past three or so decades practicing and refining my work. With that in mind, let’s think about this question: Where does style come from?

1. Influences

From very early on, I loved watching cartoons and anything animated. Some of my favorites were Scooby Doo, the Smurfs, the Care Bears, and anything Disney. I also loved the Muppets on Sesame Street, Berenstain Bears books, and Mickey Mouse.




Early influences.

My earliest drawings are just scribbles and shapes, but they’re all sort of rounded, featuring a lot of bubble-headed figures.

Some of my early masterpieces.

When I was nine, I discovered comic strips in the newspaper. I fell instantly in love with Calvin and Hobbes, For Better or For Worse, FoxTrot, and Luann. And these characters didn’t need huge animation studios to make them live and breathe…they just needed some word balloons and a few panels to play around in!

I made my first comics around the age of 10. I wish I had some to show you–but I don’t! They’re either lost to the sands of time, or buried in a box somewhere in my mom’s storage space.

2. Copying

It’s fun to draw other peoples’ characters sometimes! Here’s Tree Trunks, from Adventure Time, and Tintin and Snowy from Tintin, by me.

For a while, I just copied my favorite characters in my sketchbooks. In some cases, I even traced them. There’s nothing wrong with this—I think learning how other artists fit shapes together is a really helpful way to learn to draw. Then, I began to invent my own characters, which usually bore a striking resemblance to my favorite cartoons and comics…like a detective named Inspector Lock-It, who had a nephew and a cat (pretty much ripping off Inspector Gadget, with a little bit of genderswap and species-swap going on). I also drew myself, my friends, my teachers, my family…anybody I came in contact with was likely a subject of my comics!


An illustration from my middle school yearbook. Age 12 or so. For a while, a key part of my drawing style was to give characters a circle for a nose!

I continued to draw all of my favorite cartoons, and became somewhat famous in my middle school for being the “girl who could draw anything.” The Simpsons, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Little Mermaid…people ‘commissioned’ me all the time, and lots of people stuck my drawings in the fronts of their binders, proudly on display. I guess this was my fanart stage, and if Tumblr had existed in those days, I would have gotten a lot of notes!

By the time I got to high school, my style was starting to “gel.” People could tell when something was a “Raina drawing.” I had a great time in high school, painting dance posters, drawing comics for the school paper, illustrating as many of my class assignments as possible, and drawing caricatures of my friends and teachers.


Creating a giant dance poster for school! (Fun facts: In Smile, you see my character creating posters much like this one! And the person painting with me in this photo is my amazing friend Jake, who inspired the character of Jesse in my book Drama!)

3. Art Class, Art School

Eventually I went to art college–The School of Visual Arts, in New York City. Here is where they “teach” you to draw the “right” way. I really enjoyed my illustration classes, painting, comics-making classes, and especially figure drawing classes, learning about human anatomy and trying to capture difficult poses…but, my faces were always cartoony. My teachers hated this! But I was beginning to realize that cartoony faces are a huge, ingrained part of my “style” of drawing. (You could also call it a crutch.) Once I finished college, I was happy to just embrace my own style, and started making comics nonstop.

4. Tools

The tools you use will certainly have an impact on your style. Do you draw with a brush? A pen? A computer? Do you use paints, or charcoal? Crayons or markers?

Here are two unrelated comics pages I drew during college. The first is from when I was still inking with pens and markers…the second is after I switched over to inking with a brush.

5. Day in and day out.

Another huge factor in an artist’s style is time. Try drawing the same character every day, over the period of a month, a year, five years. The first will probably look different than the last. Styles can change a lot over time, due to many things: your hand memorizes certain lines and shapes, and starts to simplify them. You start to take certain shortcuts. You find yourself always drawing things in a certain order. Eventually, you can practically draw your characters with your eyes closed!

I’m sure my style will continue to evolve over the years, but an amazing thing has happened:


The characters from Drama, as drawn by Alyssa!

Some of the young readers of my work are starting to try to draw like me. Some of them might even list me as an influence on their own style, someday.

And I can think of no greater compliment.

*****

This essay was originally posted on Inside A Dog. Copyright Raina Telgemeier.

Post a comment on my Facebook page!

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