Miriam B. Schiffer, author of Stella Brings the Family (@ChronicleKids), illustrated by Holly Clifton Brown (@HollyRCB), stops by to talk about knowing your family is enough, the dilemma that occurs when a child doesn't see him or herself in the commonplace, and feeling liberated knowing the illustrations would share in carrying the story.
Karen Rostoker-Gruber (@KarenRostokerGr), author most recently of Ferret Fun in the Sun (Two Lions), illustrated by Paul Ratz de Tagyos, stops by to talk about author visits, her past life writing adult humor, and her goal to make a pun everyday.
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 (Dragons Beware!).
RAFAEL/JORGE: Hi Jenni and Matt, thanks for taking our questions. We’re big fans of your work.
JENNI & MATT: Thank you so much!
(FROM RAFAEL) My youngest daughter is a HUGE fan of "Babymouse!" Where did the original idea come from? Is she based on a particular kid (you, perhaps?)
JENNI: Awww, that's so sweet to hear!
MATT: When we were growing up in the Dark Ages (the 1970s!), there weren't a ton of female comic book characters that Jenni could relate to. I was always drawing and cartooning so she roped me in. Where else could she get free labor? I started drawing Babymouse.
JENNI: Who kind of looks like me. If I was, you know, a mouse.
Jenni, what’s your working process with Matt like? Do you write a full script, an outline? The books are so packed with jokes, that it makes us think that there’s a real back and forth between you two, a loose approach. Is that the case?
MATT: We've actually always collaborated long-distance and it is very back-and-forth. Typically, we come up with the generally theme and story for the book together. Jenni beats it out on a storyboard and then I edit it and put in my two cents. I pencil thumbnail sketches and then she lays out the book. I do the final art digitally.
Jenni, we've read that you have four brothers including Matt. Are you and the Matt the only siblings who went into the arts? Did you collaborate at an early age and was it encouraged by your parents?
MATT: The brother who is between us is a graphic designer.
JENNI: I was always Matt's biggest fan. He started drawing cartoon strips when he was in fifth or sixth grade.
MATT: Our parents were in medicine (our dad was a pediatrician and our mother a pediatric nurse.) We didn't follow in their footsteps, but we do work with kids like they did. Although we don't have to give shots.
As siblings, are there shortcuts or a shorthand that you can take with each other that you can't take when working with others?
MATT: We usually don't have to explain too much at this point. Our upcoming graphic novel, SUNNY SIDE UP (GRAPHIX, Pub August, 2015), was inspired by our childhood, Jenni could just give me notes along the lines of "the phone at mom's desk" and I would know what she wanted me to draw.
JENNI: Also, I'm the older sister, so I always get my way.
What is on your nightstand?
JENNI: Actually, my entire family is currently *obsessed* with a webcomic by a cartoonist—it's Dave Roman's STARBUNNY (starbunny.net) My eleven-year-old son literally checks it every single day for updates.
MATT: Nathan Hales' HAZARDOUS TALES series.
Children's Book Week, (May 4-10, 2015) - 96th annual celebration!
Children's Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading. It is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country.
In 2015, official Children's Book Week events - including appearances by beloved children's book authors & illustrators, children's open mic nights, read-alouds, book-themed costume parties, and much more - will be held in all 50 states. Photos from last year here. Event attendees receive complimentary Children's Book Week posters and tote bags. You can see how the celebrations for 2015 are shaping up here.
Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw (@KosteckiShaw), author illustrator most recently of Luna & Me: The True Story of a Girl Who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest (@HenryHolt), stops by to talk about how art can be magic, the life and discovery waiting in a goosepen, and how "you just get it" when you're there among the old growth redwoods.