Mac McCool - Children's Book Illustrations and Graphic Novels

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quick News: Children's Graphic Novel Day, Hugo Cabret, and Jay's 13 Reasons

Speakers for the roundtable on children's graphic novels in bookstores, schools, and libraries, chaired by Andrew Mitchell, now include artists, writers, librarians, bookstore professionals, Tommy Kovac, Douglass Barre, J. H. Everett, and Michael Payne. Registrations for Children's Graphic Novel Day are coming in, so don't delay (it's one week away). And it sounds like we'll have some great professionals attending as well -- so we should see very lively and informed discussions. Thanks to Lisa Yee, Greg at GottaBlog, Christina Forshay, Marilyn Scott-Waters, and all of you who are helping to promote this event! You guys rock!! And from Lisa Yee's blog: Brian Selznick Invention of Hugo Cabret won a fine award! More great news for this expanding medium! Finally, my SCBWI buddy, Jay Asher's first (and much acclaimed) novel is out: check out Thirteen Reasons Why.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Updated GoRaina Website

Last night, we received Mary Anne Saves the Day. It reminded me that a couple of weeks ago, Raina Telgemeier, the comic artist adapting the "Baby-Sitters Club" series to graphic novels, updated her website,! It's filled with fun and happy goodies!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fires in Southern California

The fires do not threaten our community now, yet they are close enough for us to see the smoke and inhale the dry air... Many people we know and thousands more we don't are dislodged, helping others, or have lost their homes. The San Diego Red Cross chapter, which is in most need, has a direct link to help. Thanks for your thoughts and help.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday Tip: Writing The Soundtrack of a Comics

Every time a comics becomes an animated show, some long-time readers upon seeing it for the first time will say, "Huh?... That's not the voice I had in mind for [insert character name]." It's one of the magical dimensions of comic art! Graphic novels do have soundtracks, only they play in our mind's ear. The writer and the artist work together in making the otherwise silent book object turn into a decibel-filled experience. For the writer, this magic resides in crafting natural-sounding dialogues with unique voices distinguished by speech patterns, hints of accents, and authentic jargon. Listen to people speaking, pick up rhythms, inflections, and selectively hand them to your characters. Next, the writer provides the first draft (or first spelling) of sound effects (onomatopoeias) for those sounds that should break past a scene's normal auditory landscape. You can use conventional spellings (WHAM! POW! ZAP!) for typical sounds, but you're creative, right? So why not add your own sound effects to the sequential art soundbank?

Next tip: how does the artist transform marks on the page into sounds in our heads?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

HarperCollins To Start Publishing Children's Graphic Novels

The latest SCBWI Bulletin announces that Brenda Bowen (formerly with Simon & Schuster and Hyperion) recently joined HarperCollins to launch a new imprint, which will publish children's graphic novels. Bowen is looking for new writers and artists, and for "graphic novels and books on cultural trends and titles with 'global reach,'" states a HarperCollins press release. Harold Underdown lists the name of the new imprint as "Bowen Publishing." Bowen oversaw the Hyperion launch of graphic novel biographies, such as Houdini by Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Children's Graphic Novel Day - Nov. 3!

If you're a writer or illustrator aspiring to create great children's graphic novels, the Southern California Tri-Regions Chapters of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is creating the very first Children's Graphic Novel Day. It's going to be a fun, hands-on, workshop-style introduction to the wonderful literary, visual, and narrative potentials of graphic novels! What better way to meet folks with shared interests too?! More news to come, but register now before it's full!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Future of the Graphic Novel

The Los Angeles Public Library organized an insightful panel on "The Future of Graphic Literature" (6-part video at New Rage Order). Among the panelists, artist and editor Kazu Kibuishi talked about his new children's graphic novel anthology, Flight Explorer (scheduled for early 2008), his own upcoming graphic novel, Amulet, Jeff Smith's Bone (Scholastic), and more tidbits about the children's graphic novel market. If you're new to the comics publishing industry, it's a great, albeit mellow, intro! Thanks to my illustrator friend Christina Forshay for the heads-up!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tuesday Tip: Reverse-Writing a Comics

With authors wanting to write graphic novels, many stumble on which format to follow. Although the industry has "traditions," it has no strict standard rivaling those for screenplays. For example, at Marvel, one such tradition (believed to have started with Stan Lee) consists in handing down to the artist a one-page point-by-point plot, which the artist then converts into the typical 22-page comic book format. At the end, a writer or editor adds dialogues and captions on top of the art. Other graphic novel writers will not only write dialogues, but give detailed panel-by-panel instructions, down to the camera angle and the characters' facial expressions.

One of the best exercises for an aspiring writer is to take their favorite graphic novel and "reverse-write" it (think reverse-engineering). Pick a sample of pages, look at the text in the dialogues and captions, identify the stage direction (action), the sets (description), and create a script that would have generated the page you are looking at. Ask yourself how you would communicate your thoughts with the artist, which thoughts are important to share, etc. With this exercise you will also become familiar with the many devices and concepts unique to graphic novel storytelling.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Great SCBWI Editor's Day 2007!

Congratulations to Francesca Rusackas, Q.L. Pierce, and Priscilla Burris for organizing such a fun, informative, and motivating SCBWI Editor's Day! What a treat to meet the very friendly Mary Lee Donavan (Candlewick Press) and Elizabeth Schonhorst (Bloomsbury Children's Books), and to listen to all the speakers (including my wonderful friend, Marilyn Scott-Waters)! Mary Lee Donovan introduced me to what looks like a super fun children's graphic novel (she called it a "graphic storybook"), Sticky Burr by John Lechner. The day even ended with news of a Graphic Novel Day for children's book writers & illustrators!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Conference Man

So, okay, I did sketch (quite a bit, actually!) during my conference last weekend. Here's one of the more interesting shaped-face I saw!

Monday, October 01, 2007

She's Fit To Be Tied!

No, this is not someone I met this weekend! Just a sketch I had fun with! Still, even the doodles in my sketchbook are afraid of this girl. What happened to the cute bunnies?!