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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kids Comics Q&A Blog Tour

I'm super excited to have the Kids Comics Q&A Blog Tour, organized by Macmillan, stopping by today!

Celebrate kids comics with Q&As with fantastic children’s cartoonists for Children’s Book Week! Join us as great authors talk about their own creative work and the graphic novel industry throughout April and May. Comics for kids are reaching a time of unprecedented acceptance in the American literary scene, and it’s now true that there are comics for everyone. All interviews are conducted by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado.

I'm honored to share the interview with the Adventures In Cartooning team, with y'all...

QUESTION:  Do you think of your books as a campaign to train future cartoonists? What are you hoping readers take away from your books?

James: In the future everyone will be a cartoonist—and I'm not saying that facetiously. One day all elementary schools will be teaching visual literacy —and cartooning is like the ABCs of visual literacy. Adventures in Cartooning is a text book disguised as an adventure.

Andrew: Most definitely! It's my hope that any kid (or adult, for that matter!) who wants to tell a story with comics—no matter his/her drawing "level"—believes that he/she can do so.

Alexis: The Adventure in Cartooning books encourage readers to tell stories using the skills they already have. Our books don't set out a prescribed method for making comics which I think is antithetical to the creative process. Instead, they seek empower young artists who, hopefully, discover a tool they can use to help process the world around them. The goal is less about training cartoonists than validating a young readers creative impulse. So, if the Adventures in Cartooning books were part of a campaign the slogan would be "Yes, you, can, DRAW!"

QUESTION:  Andrew and Alexis, if we understand correctly, you both met James while students at the Center  for Cartoon Studies where James teaches.  What are some of the things your study at the CCS prepared you for in your lives as working cartoonists?

Andrew: This is true! Alexis and I were members of the school's first graduating class. Looking back, I think one of the most important things I learned from CCS is the process of editing one's own work. Creating comics is a strenuous and time-consuming process, but being patient with your work is one of the only ways it will get better!

Alexis: Two important lessons I learned were, "Watch out for James' elbows in the low post," and "Wearing a sweater during the summer is totally normal in Vermont." But in all seriousness, the school's focus on teaching students about the entire process of creating a comic, from developing an initial concept, through writing and drawing the story, to preparing the final document for printing, is invaluable for any aspiring cartoonist. Additionally, during the first year, students are expected to create at least one complete comic weekly. This heavy work load helped prepare me for the amount of effort that goes into producing a graphic novel for print

QUESTION: James [Sturm], we really enjoyed the 12 Panel Pitch series you curated with Slate Magazine awhile back.  They were funny, weird - in the finest way possible - and we could see some of them as actual movies.  Did you get much response from them?  Are any of the pitches going to become time-traveling-pirate spring-break sports-comedy movies?   Are you going to do it again? 

James: 12 Panel Pitch grew out of a classroon exercise that explored genre structure and tropes and narrative compression. No movie deals signed yet! Will I do it again? Well, I do it every year with students at The Center for Cartoon Studies.

QUESTION:  For someone with a kid who loves your books and wants to read even more about cartooning who or what would you recommend?

James: There are so many great comics out there now. How about chek out some classics like Little Lulu, Moomin, Tintin and Scrooge McDuck? These comics are beloved by generations for good reason.

Andrew: Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, to my mind, is the best overall book out there when it comes to talking about the art of comics. But it's not only a wonderful tool—it's just an overall great read, and I'd recommend reading and re-reading it whenever you can.

Alexis: For older kids, Scott McCloud's "Understanding Comics" is probably the best book there is about the mechanics of narrative storytelling. "Drawing Words and Writing Pictures" by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden is also great. But, I would agree with James, one of the best ways to learn how to draw comics is to read lots of comics. For example, reading through the Calvin and Hobbes box set is like getting a master class in cartooning.

QUESTION:  What's next for each of you?  More books in the Adventures in Cartooning series?  Or are you working on individual projects?

James: After the four AIC Jr. books are done we'll take a deep breath and hudddle with the :01 crew and figure out if we want to keep it rolling. 

I hope to have two solo childrens books coming out next year. One was inspired by Kamishibai (a Japanese storytelling tradition) and another one is about a sensitive Ape and an Armadillo who doesn't play so well with others. This fall marks CCS's 10-year anniversary so I plan on celebrating.

Andrew: I've got a few projects that I'm working on and hope to flesh out once we've wrapped up the final book in the picture book series. They're in the early stages, so I'd rather not elaborate on them too much because you never know how much something might change from idea to book!

Alexis: We're really excited about the four Adventures in Cartooning Jr. of books that are coming out starting in April. These are unique books that use visual narrative storytelling in a traditional picture book format. I guess the future of the AIC gang depends on how this mash-up is received. I am working on some solo projects during the time I have between drawing the Adventures in Cartooning books but they are still very much works in progress.

Sponsored by the Children’s Book Council with Every Child a Reader and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in celebration of Children’s Book Week.

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