At the urging of my sister, beginning in the New Year (probably January 7), I'm going to be re-running, one day at a time, my comic strip Marty Gray. It first appeared online in 1997 (!), as a daily feature of my (and collaborator Jon Follett's) web magazine, Strange Voices, which was a publication for extraterrestrials who were living on earth. Stay tuned!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Yes, it's true: Babymouse: Puppy Love is here!
Well, actually, it arrives the day after Christmas. But I'm going out of town, and hopefully won't go on-line for a week, so I'm telling you now.
It's the perfect thing to buy with all of those Christmas gift cards!
I just saw that Cynsations is giving away
...a Babymouse doll and a copy of the seventh Babymouse adventure: Babymouse: Skater Girl...But you have to enter the drawing by 3 p.m. CST TODAY! Hurry on over!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The podcast interview that Sabrina at Teachtopia did with me a while back is finally online at ChildrensBookRadio.com. We discussed Babymouse, Middle School Is Worse than Meatloaf, and children's graphic novels in general.
It turned out quite nice! Though, for some reason, it sounds to me like I'm 40 years old and I have a mustache. I don't exactly know what the sound of a mustache is, but there you have it.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast gives would-be readers seven reasons to read Babymouse: Skater Girl.
Thanks to Jenni, who is wasting time on-line instead of working. But who can blame her? The year is wearing away quickly...
Here's something that escaped my (and Google's) notice: an incredibly thoughtful (and complimentary) article at Pixiepalace called, "Imaginary Exploration in Babymouse." She muses on ideas of gender identity in Babymouse, not-so-happy fairy tales, and with which character in a story a reader identifies:
It is quite interesting that this character, and these authors, understood that it is possible to identify with the hunters, the monster and the victims, often all at the same time, especially when you are a child. I can’t think of a single other book that does this, although I am sure that they must exist (possibly the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips).
Monday, December 17, 2007
The term "graphic novel" has taken off here in the States. How do you feel about your work being described that way?
I don't like "graphic novel." It's a word that publishers created for the bourgeois to read comics without feeling bad. Comics is just a way of narrating -- it's just a media type. Chris Ware doesn't like it either -- he says it sounds like "Lady Chatterley's Lover."
Seriously, though—don't blame modern publishers. The problem is that the accurate and appropriate term—"comic books"—had already been appropriated and misapplied by the comics publishers decades earlier (to appeal to their own bourgeoisie). Charles Schulz used the appropriate (though now quite quaint-sounding) "comic magazines" in some of his Peanuts strips back in the ’50s. Let's face it: comic books are not books. They're saddle-stitched periodicals. Today's graphic novels are books. A vast number are even put out by book publishers, not monthly comic publishers. They're often a different beast, with a different audience, sales channel, production model, and profit model from "comic books."
If any "comic book" artist wants to boo-hoo over "graphic novel," they should rightly point their fingers back to their own childhoods in the 1950s and ’60s, when their generation abandoned an accurate term, leaving us today with yet another inaccurate term. Too bad.
UP WITH GRAPHIC NOVELS!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
It's weird what Google brings your way. I was just e-mailed a news alert on my name. It's for a blog entry that reprints (almost certainly without any proper compensation to or permission from the Hearst Corporation) a sidebar I wrote ages ago for Country Living Magazine about Safe Deposit Boxes.
It's funny how quickly you forget all the work you've done in your life. (And I'm just a young pup!)
Bonus: My former CL colleague Marie Proeller apparently had one of her pieces swiped for the blog entry just below mine.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Since I found infodad.com, I thought I'd gather together the site's other Babymouse reviews. Here they are:
There’s nothing to cry about in the Babymouse series by the sister-and-brother team of Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm, but the seventh book in the series, Skater Girl, proves to be the most serious of all – and one of the best. ... [Babymouse] finds out that competitive skating really is hard work, requiring super-early appearances at the rink and constant compromises involving homework, friends and family. This is an accurate portrayal of the hard-driving world of young people’s skating competitions, and Babymouse’s eventual decision to give up the quest for glory in order to reclaim her friends and the fun of the sport has real-world resonance, too. This is highly unusual in the Babymouse books – a first, in fact – and lends Skater Girl depth that makes it more intriguing than the earlier books. It’s just as much fun, though, and the pictures of Babymouse are as enjoyable as ever. The story’s added dose of reality is an unexpected and welcome bonus.Wow! Who knew that anyone was keeping track of our firsts?
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Make no mistake: Babymouse is not a children’s picture book. It’s a graphic novel aimed at children aged six to 12 who -- ironically enough -- don’t have as many graphic novels as you’d think aimed at them.The latter sentiment is something I try to hammer home in my talks. It's something that is hard to grasp—and I understand why, having lived through the late-80s comic-book backlash, when all of the comic creators who were trying to introduce more mature themes into the overly saccharine comic book realm were chanting over and over, "comic books aren't just for kids." Unfortunately, nowadays it's hard to find a comic book left that is appropriate for kids. So it's good to hear people besides myself saying that.
The former observation—"Babymouse is not a children’s picture book."—comes up more often than you might think. The curse of having a character with a great name like "Babymouse" is that the "Baby-" prefix makes 50% of human beings assume that this is a book for toddlers.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Vanessa wrote a quickie glowing review of Babymouse.
Funny side note about blogs and the Internet: We've apparently surpassed the point at which a blog told more than we ever wanted to know about the blog-author. Now, blogs are becoming very purpose-driven, with little extraneous information outside of that scope. (This is my way of pointing out that, despite the above-mentioned blog having a great amount of detail about what Vanessa has read over the past year, I have no idea who she is, or what she does, or why she's reading Babymouse in the first place.)