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jabberworks July 22 2014, 08:17

oliver and the seawigs launches in the usa!

The Sea Monkeys are loose in America!!! My book with Philip Reeve, Oliver and the Seawigs launches with Random House TODAY!! Seawigs is being published in 20 countries now, but how will it fare in the place where I grew up? ...I am SO CURIOUS.


Sea Monkey knitting pattern by Deadly Knitshade... Know anyone who knits? You can download yours free here!



I'm originally from Seattle, and growing up near beaches and tidepools did play a major part in the creation of our story.



Here's a drawing I made as a kid of the rocks near Cannon Beach, in Oregon, where our family used to go on vacation almost every year. (You might also recognise it as the setting from the 1985 film The Goonies.)



I drew some of the inspiration for the setting of Oliver and the Seawigs from my family visits to the fishing village of Seldovia, in Alaska. Here you can see the Crisp family house, supported on stilts and wooden pilings.



And here are some of my drawings from Alaska. I showed Philip these drawings when we were still coming up with the story idea, and we both thought it looked like the perfect place for our tale.



My Japanese-Hawaiian uncle's family owns one of the stilted cottages in Seldovia and I love watching otters swim by, and bald eagles swoop down and steal fish from the seagulls.


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yaytime July 21 2014, 20:38

Comic Con, San Diego

Here is where to find me at Comic Con International: San Diego from July 24th-27th.


Thursday July 24th

4pm: Kids’ Heroes, Capes and Journeys: Does One Size Fit All? (Room 29A)
Graphic novel authors and educators discuss how kids’ heroes have grown and changed over the years. Discussing “Hero” templates, they’ll explore old and new hero favorites and whether a mold helps or hinders the development of future heroes. Panelists will then ask the audience to help create an SDCC 2014 hero as artist panelists draw/design/experiment with hero templates. Implications for fans, educators, students, and aspiring writers, and critics will be discussed. Panelist include Jennifer Holm (Babymouse, Squish)Matthew Holm (Babymouse, Squish),, Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy) , Frank Cammuso (The Misadventures of Salem Hyde)TedNaifeh (Courtney Crumrin) , Marc Tyler Nobleman (Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, Bill the Boy Wonder), and Alexis Fajardo (Kid Beowulf).

THURSDAY NIGHT OFF SITE EVENT:
Gene Yang

7pm: Dave Roman & Gene Yang presentation, live drawing & book signing
Barnes & Noble Mira Mesa
10775 Westview Parkway
San Diego, CA 92126
More info & store locator


Sunday July 27th

10am Kids Draw! Interactive panel. (Room 30CDE)
This fun-filled draw-off pits cartoonist against cartoonist as kids help tell the story-with Kelley Jones (Space Mountain), Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants), Dave Roman(Astronaut Academy), Dan Santat (Comics Squad: Recess), and Kirk Scroggs (Snoop Troop) and as many monsters, aliens, princesses, and plot twists as they can fit into a single panel! Moderated by Matt and Jenni Holm (Babymouse, Squish).

11:30am Dave Roman signing all books at Sails Pavilion, AA09

12pm Dave Roman signing copies of Astronaut Academy at :01 First Second booth #1323

1pm – 2pm All-Ages Comics Have Arrived! (Room 24ABC)
Quality all-ages comics are back and better than ever! We’re not just talking about “kids” comics, we’re talking about amazing comics that can be enjoyed by young, old, and everyone in between. Join KaBOOM! editor Shannon Watters as she has a lively and fun conversation with several all-ages creators, including David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity), Gene Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints), and Ian McGinty (Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time: Candy Capers).

Mirrored from it's yaytime!.

jabberworks July 17 2014, 06:09

summer reading challenge: draw anansi!

Try your hand at drawing Anansi, one of the Mythical Maze characters in the Summer Reading Challenge! It's easy, if you do it step by step:



If you'd like to print it out for your library (or to use at home, or at work - adults can try it, too!), you can download a PDF here.



Some background: When I was planning out the Mythical Maze characters, some of them changed quite a bit from my original sketches. But not Anansi, I think I nailed him with my first drawing. I taped this bit of paper to the wall of my studio:



Anansi's an African trickster god, and the god of stories. When you think of spiders, you think of dusty corners and cobwebs. But I'd been reading a Telegraph article about men in the Congo who live in quite rough places, but take great pride in dressing very smartly. The basic philosophy of the Society of Elegant Persons of the Congo: to defy circumstance and live with joie de vivre. I liked the idea of making Anansi a very dapper chap. Thus, the yellow hat, cool glasses and spats.



I've heard storytellers tell tales of Anansi - he comes very much from an oral tradition of storytelling - but I can think of two books I've read about him. I grew up with Anansi the Spider, the picture book by Gerald McDermott, and much later I read Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. Two books couldn't be more different, but they're both inspired by the same mythical character, and I'm sure the two books (and newspaper article) inspired me.



But those are just two Anansi books, there must be lots more. Can you tell me about any other top Anansi books or comics? Leave a note in the comments if you know of one, a really good one!

Why not try writing your own Anansi story? What sort of tricksy adventures would your Anansi get up to? Can you use spiderwebs as part of the design for your book cover or comic? Your setting could feel very African, or you could show Anansi right where you are, maybe in your home, at the shops, at a funfair, or even as far away as the moon. You can draw Anansi more like a person or more like a spider, or perhaps your Anansi will be female. It's up to you!

I'd love to see your drawings and comics, if you want to tweet photos of them on the #SummerReadingChallenge hash tag. Don't forget that the Medusa Malarky comic competition is still going on! You can download your comic Story Starter here.



Oh dear, yesterday someone in Seattle set their house on fire trying to kill a spider with a blowtorch. Do NOT try this at home! Spiders are tricksy. ...Oo, and there's another possible story starter.
jabberworks July 15 2014, 22:44

summer reading challenge + a royal reading adventure

SELFIE WITH CAMILLA! ^____^


Photo by Sarah Reeve

Yesterday the Summer Reading Challenge team took me and the Medusa fascinator to Exeter Library to talk and draw with children from St Leonard’s Primary School ...and the Duchess of Cornwall! (Camilla is no stranger to the Medusa hat; you can see hers on a Royal Hats blog here.) I talked with the kids about the Mythical Maze characters I'd drawn, then they helped me draw a four-panel comic about an yeti-Medusa adventure, showing them how easy it is to make a story. And we all drew Medusa. (One kid had something like 46 snakes on his Medusa - it looked like an explosion!)



I talked a bit about how we are still creating myths and legends; no one can second-guess which will be the stories remembered for thousands of years, but we can try our creative best and who knows, perhaps people will still remember our characters for generations to come. I introduced them to my Oliver and the Seawigs co-author Philip Reeve and we pointed out the little Sea Monkey on the poster, saying it was our contribution this year to myth making.



I invited Camilla to come help me draw a Sea Monkey, and she was such a good sport about it! I liked her monkey, it's quite ferocious! I asked her if she wanted to draw it smiling or roaring, and she said, 'ROARING!'.






From The British Monarchy channel

And we all sang the Sea Monkey song! Camilla said she wouldn't be able to get the chorus our of her head, and I apologised. (It does have an annoying catchiness to it.) The Duchess has a real heart for children and getting kids reading, and we were super-chuffed she could come along.


Photo by Sarah Reeve

By the time we got back to London, people were already sending us links to news reports! Camilla wasn't the only one giggling, after I'd read this Daily Mail article by Rebecca English:







(Actually, there are more than 800,000 children taking part, not 8000, but otherwise it's a good write-up of the day.)
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jabberworks July 15 2014, 06:41

nine world geekfest events!

Hey, I've been hearing awesome things about London's Nine Worlds Convention, running from 8-10 Aug. And the guy who contacted me about doing events was Jared Shurin, who's one of my favourite people in book world. (And I've only met him at Kitschies events a few times; I mostly watch him and his partner Anne Perry getting up to antics online.) Anyway, check it out, there's loads going on. So much, in fact, that a lot of people are booking hotel rooms near Heathrow and staying all weekend.



While you're there, come along to my Cakes in Space event with my co-author Philip Reeve. (And it may be the first time a limited number of advance copies of the books will be available for sale.) I'm getting up to a few things:

Saturday: MONSTERCLASS: Comics 5.00pm - 6.15pm, Room 30
Explore comics with illustrators Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve, and get tips on making your own. Intimate masterclass, max 12 people.

Saturday: Working with Artists: drawing up professional relationships, 6.45pm - 8.00pm
County A
How can artists get the best from their writers, and vice versa? Advice about making great things.
Q&A, with Sarah McIntyre, Emma Vieceli, Gillian Redfearn, Djibril al-Ayad, Adam Christopher


Sunday: Food in Science Fiction, 1.30-2.45pm
How do aliens eat? What do they eat? Do they eat at all? Will they want to eat us? Food is essential to human survival and to the survival of most everything we normally think of as living, so in any journey to an alien world it can never be forgotten. Our panel discuss the different ways in which we might grow or construct food in the future, as well as the role food plays in science fiction of all kinds
Panel: Sarah McIntyre, Gareth L. Powell and Aliette de Bodard


Sunday: Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre: CAKES IN SPACE!, 11.45am - 1.00pm, Room 38
Robots! Spaceships! Killer Cupcakes! Batty Battenbergs! Explore the furthest reaches of storytelling and drawing with this space-suited dream team!
The bestselling authors of Oliver and the Seawigs turn their attention to outer space in their new book CAKES IN SPACE. Grab your pencil and get set for zany adventure, in this stage show / creative masterclass / collaborative singing / storytelling spectacular!
#CakesinSpace


Front endpapers for Cakes in Space, published this September by Oxford University Press
jabberworks July 13 2014, 13:38

london YA lit con 2014

Hatted up, suited and booted: just another day heading into the office...



Ha ha! It's so much fun when other people dress up, not just me. Yesterday I went to YA Lit Con (that's Young Adult Literature Convention, or #YALC), held as part of the London Film and Comic Con at Earl's Court in London. On the pavement outside, this lady in her fine threads won my heart... until she shot an arrow straight through it. Aiee!



Seriously, where else but these sorts of conventions do you get tens of thousands of mostly-unaccompanied kids and teenagers together in one place - many with MASSIVE WEAPONS - and have such a well-behaved, literate group of people? These people LOVE stories, and they often don't just want to read them, but become actual characters in these new myths and legends. I love this so much. Here's Martin Chilton's coverage of YALC in The Telegraph:



When I got to the Green Room, I went a little crazy with taking selfies with lots of people there. Steve Cole was super-chuffed to get his photo taken with one of the Doctor Who characters, Paul McGann. (Steve had written BBC books starring Paul's Doctor from '97-'99.) To be honest, I had a bit of a crush on him in the film Withnail and I; there are even two pages in Morris the Mankiest Monster based on screen shots I took of that film.



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jabberworks July 11 2014, 18:19

summer reading challenge: a weird & wonderful mythical world!

Snakes alive! This year's Summer Reading Challenge is off to a great start! Here are a bunch of us at the British Library launch, being our usual quiet, demure selves.



That's illustrator-animator Steve May on the left (who did a great job animating the Mythical Maze trailer), writer-illustrator Liz Pichon, some tall chick in a hat, writer (and former actor, I discovered) Guy Bass, and writer Helena Pielichaty. Oh, and here's Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman! (She's also been super-busy coordinating this weekend's London YA Lit Con.)



One of the things we were asked to do was to make a video saying which book we'd like to recommend to people doing the Summer Reading Challenge. I chose my studio mate Gary Northfield's book, The Terrible Tales of the Teenytinysaurs. It's a brilliant read: funny, and beautifully drawn.



Look out for the beautiful dark underwater scene that Gary carved out of a giant sheet of scratchboard! (Here's a peek at it from our studio.) Gary's the person who originally showed me how to do library events, he's ace.



Here you can see me talking about Teenytinysaurs. I think I might have been underwater, too, or just very tired, because I don't think I usually talk that slowly and deeply. Kind of weird sounding. But, hey... FLOURESCENT MEDUSA HAT.



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jabberworks July 11 2014, 08:39

should you go to art college?

I get a lot of people asking me for advice about art college. Should they go? Will it help them get work in illustration, children’s books or comics?


Camberwell Alumni Day

I can’t answer for everyone; art college might be right for you, but wrong for someone else. But here are a few tips from my own experience and looking around at friends and fellow students who have gone to art college:

1. You don’t have to go straight from school to art college.

Everything you do goes into the pot of good experience. First, here’s my background: Illustration wasn’t my focus of study when I did my Bachelor’s Degree in the USA. I studied Russian language and literature at Bryn Mawr, and did what’s called a ‘minor degree’ in History of Art. The art faculty came to a private arrangement with me where they let me take a few more studio classes than was strictly part of the History of Art requirements, so I still got in quite a bit of painting and drawing. But this course of study was a great preparation for being an illustrator. When I took the study-abroad option for my third year, I found huge inspiration in the art galleries and museums of Moscow, and it gave me a unique focus to what would later inspire my own artwork. One of the international schools in Moscow didn’t have an art teacher, so I volunteered teaching art for half a day every Friday. This was rather frustrating, but SUCH good training for later, when I’d be leading workshops and standing on stage, presenting my book to crowds of up to a thousand kids. After my year of study in Moscow, I stayed for a second year, delaying my graduation, and worked at The Moscow Times newspaper as a full-time copy editor and occasional journalist. That experience taught me a lot about how the media works, how to catch mistakes in text, and how to write headlines and photo captions. (I often think of this blog as a series of photo captions.) I learned that I really didn’t want to be a journalist, but I love the freedom of blogging; I can write what I want, when I want, and if I make the occasional mistake, it’s unlikely anyone will care enough to sue me or fire me. I graduated with my BA in Russian in 1999 and didn't start art college until 2005. I had a career crisis, got depressed, couldn't draw properly, and starting college gave me just the boost I needed.


Some of my degree show artwork

Mature students rock. When I was on the MA Illustration course at Camberwell, the people who seemed to get the most out of the course were people who had already been working for some time in the field. They knew which questions to ask and how to set themselves challenging projects. People who had come straight from a BA course seemed slightly bewildered that no one was telling them what to do, and they didn’t know how to go out and supplement their training with outside courses, lectures and professional groups because they didn’t really know what they needed. It’s a bit of a sweeping statement, but with a few exceptions, I wouldn’t really recommend anyone go to art college before they’re 30. Study something else first, get work experience. And that way you’ll avoid being part of the young groups who are desperately worried about maintaining their artist image, wearing cool clothes, getting drunk, trying to learn how a washing machine works, etc. Mature students are almost always much more focused.

(I did tour two art college when I was 16 (Cornish in Seattle, and Emily Carr in Vancouver), vaguely thinking maybe I wanted to be a painter or a graphic designer. But I looked around at all the sneering students in their cool outfits and thought I would never fit in. And I cared about fitting in, I was 16. ...Ha ha, Bryn Mawr wasn't like that, it was wonderful Nerdville.)

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jabberworks July 10 2014, 11:41

summer reading challenge makes a slithering start!

Yesterday evening, The Reading Agency, the British Library and Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman launched the Summer Reading Challenge Mythical Maze! (I wore a Medusa hat.)



More about this soon! You can get updates on the Summer Reading Challenge website, their Facebook Page, and follow the #SummerReadingChallenge hash tag on Twitter. (Be sure to use the hash tag if you do something fun at your library that you want to share!)

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