One Year…

September 1st, 2013

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!


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Advice for Budding Cartoonists

August 25th, 2013

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!


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.


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!


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.


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.

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A Tour of my Workspace

August 19th, 2013

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.

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‘Beginnings’ in Japanese!

August 18th, 2013

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.

In Which I Recommend Some Graphic Novels

August 18th, 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, 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 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!


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.


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.


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 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.


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.

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