Mac McCool - Children's Book Illustrations and Graphic Novels

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesday Tip: Margins on Originals Provide Finger-Space and More

Nothing earth-shattering for this tip, however I'm always surprised when students and aspiring comic artists show me their originals with only a quarter of an inch or less between the edge of the paper and their beautiful panels! Ample margins have multiple purposes: plenty enough room for holding without risking putting your fingers on the ink lines, a protective band (if you drop your fancy sheet of paper and bend a corner, or knock over a coffee up or ink bottle), a playful space for tiny graphic experiments and notes-to-self, and finally a "framing" look that gives the original page a greater aesthetic appeal. How much is enough? No rule, but I'm happy to see a 1-inch minimum. How about you?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

White Mountain Tops, Green Hill Tops, and Ocean View

What little rain has fallen so far during our "rainy" season has repainted the landscape green. Plants I've never seen before are popping on every trail side. Far away, snow on mountain tops almost glows in the noon hour. On my hike today, with the winter sun low enough in the sky, it was possible to see the Pacific Ocean (a rare event) and the hills of Catalina Island. The ocean shone like a silver sheet and the tankers heading in and out of the port of Long Beach looked like little dashes.

Thanks to all of you who have expressed concerns about my "delayed" suitcases. A few days ago, I made a special trip to LAX to snatch them off the luggage belt the minute they slid down! Now, I've got some serious reading to do!!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Kids Comics Convention in 2008

Quick news to share: a kids comics convention is taking place in NYC this year again, and it now hosts awards!

Friday, January 04, 2008

What's in French Comics Stores These Days?

After visiting four comics bookstores (yeah!) since my arrival in France, I noticed few changes from last year's selection. Mangas have decidedly conquered their shelf-space (about a tenth of the store space). Their printing quality often surpasses the U.S. pulp trade form. For decades French and Belgium readers have been used to beautiful color printing and hardbound comic books (they call them "albums"), so buyers probably expect higher quality production in their mangas than we do in the U.S.

Children's graphic novels remain a mix of top-selling series (Marsupilami, Smurfs, Titeuf, Petit Spirou), look-alikes of top-selling series, and more creative, often illustrative and poetic, stories (Octave, Echecs et Automates).

The alternative and experimental press has a space of its own (about half the size of mangas), but a sectarian following. I didn't see nearly as many people go to those shelves as to the other areas of the bookstores. We seem to witness a maturing, if not a slight oversupply of that type of comics now that the rise of the "Nouvelle Bande Dessinée" (the New Comics) dates back to more than 10 years. One store even had a section for the more artistic and established trend-changing authors like Sfar (Sardine, The Rabbi's Cat), David B. (Epileptic), Christophe Blain (Isaac The Pirate), Manu Larcenet, Lewis Trondheim, and a few new promising artists like Daphné Collignon whose art seduced me.

Last, organizing graphic novels by genre rather than by author or publisher appears well-entrenched. The stores I visited had sections for thrillers, fantasy, western, history, classics, humor, children's, mangas, super-heroes, alternative and small press, and studies and monographs on comics. We may look forward to such a development in the U.S. in the years to come.