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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
This is an updated version of a post from early 2013.
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, Sisters, 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 Indiebound.org or Amazon. And you can always request them at your local library!
For Ages 8 and Up:
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.
by Cece Bell
One of my favorite graphic novels in recent memory. A memoir, in which young Cece suffers from severe hearing loss after a bout with meningitis, and goes through life with a clunky hearing aid. At its core, this book is really about friendship and finding your place in the world, which anyone can relate to!
The Dumbest Idea Ever!
by Jimmy Gownley
A memoir about how Jimmy became a cartoonist when he was a young teenager. A perfect read for budding authors, artists or cartoonists, or anyone who likes stories about real kids with real lives.
By Kiyohiko Azuma
My favorite manga of all time. Hilarious, simple, and some of the best comic timing I’ve ever seen.
By Jimmy Gownley
Amelia and her mom move to a new town, and this series follows the adventures of Amelia and her new friends. A fourth-grade lens on real life.
By Hope Larson
Summer camp! Secrets! Cute boys! Lightning!
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!
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.
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!
Cleopatra in Space
by Mike Maihack
What if Cleopatra went to school in outer space?! That’s really all you need to know before diving into this fun series!
The Silver Six
By AJ Lieberman and Darren Rawlings
A standalone story that feels like it could be based off your very favorite cartoon show. Full of action and fun.
Zita the Spacegirl
By Ben Hatke
An adventure comic with a big heart, beautifully illustrated.
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.
By Jeff Smith
An absolute classic. Epic story, funny characters, surprising depth, jaw-dropping artwork.
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!
By Doug TenNapel
Doug has a knack for writing fantastical fables about real-life kids. This is my favorite of his books.
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.
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.
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. FWB is about homeschooling, public high school, a missing mother, a bunch of crazy brothers…and a 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.
by Liz Prince
A fantastic memoir about Liz’s life growing up as a tomboy. One of my favorite YA graphic novels. Recommended for high school and up.
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 slightly 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.