Wednesday, November 26, 2008

teh Laugh-out-Loud cats r on iGoogle!

For any fans of Adam Koford's Original Laugh-Out-Loud Cats who also use Google as their homepage, Adam has created an iGoogle homepage theme.


It changes throughout the day. Get it here!

Wow! Graphic Novels for Kids DO Exist!

Pink Me's list of Cybils-nominated Graphic Novels is impressive. I'm just psyched to see so many graphic novels for kids out there! When I started four (almost 5!) years ago, there was nothing. Now, it's a huge field! Go, us! Keep 'em coming!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pre-Cybils review of Babymouse: Monster Mash at Parenthetical.net

Parenthetical.net has posted a Cybils review of Babymouse: Monster Mash:

Babymouse loves Halloween. (I can relate. My front porch still looks like Halloween threw up on it.) She wants to dress up as something scary and have a party with her friends, most of whom seem to be boys. But her nemesis, Felicia Furrypaws, informs her that, “Everyone knows that girls have to be pretty for Halloween. It’s a RULE!” (Dear women who feel compelled to be a “sexy ____” every year, this book is for you.) ...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

And I am a snake-head eating the head on the opposite side...

Just to turn the Internet into an endless Möbius strip, I'm going to link back to the "Linkfest: Babymouse and book deals" article at SLJ's Good Comics for Kids blog, which links to my posts about the Newsarama interview and Good Comics for Kids' own article on library circulation stats for graphic novels.

I am dizzy.

Resources for students who are interested in getting into the comics business

So, I just did a presentation today at a school in East Islip, Long Island. But it was for Middle and High School students, not my usual audience of elementary school kids (or librarians). I talked a great deal more about the broader comics field, and discussed how one gets into it.

The short answer: There's no magic bullet. This isn't like trying to become an MD or a CPA. It's sort of like achieving Buddhahood. Everyone's path is different. (Except Buddhas get a lot more sleep than cartoonists, I think. Pay's about the same.)

At any rate, though, there are schools out there that have begun to cater to the profession. Here are some quick links for students (middle and high-school) who are interested in pursuing a career in comics.

College-level instruction in Comics, Cartooning, and Graphic Novels:

(Many more links at TeachingComics.org.)

Information about life as a gag cartoonist:
Andertoons
Mike Lynch (1)
Mike Lynch (2)

Information about editorial cartooning:
Association of American Editorial Cartoonists

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Peanuts cartoons, via iTunes store

The Schulz family has teamed up with Warner Bros. to create new Flash-animated shorts of classic Peanuts comic strips. You can download the first one for free from the iTunes store for a limited time.

I just watched it, and I have to say: It looks pretty darn good. I kept wanting to find fault with the animation, the voices, the music ... but it's all really well done. The actors for the kids' voices are eerie in their resemblance to (or at least evocation of) the voices of the 1960s (and later) actors.

Watching it all the way to the end, however, I was struck by the fact that, no matter how you slice it, the pacing and dramatic arc for daily comic strips just doesn't translate as well as you'd hope to a video format. You're expecting a little more out of the story, but you know what? This is just a gag that was supposed to be read in a few seconds over breakfast.

I'm not sure what the solution to that dilemma is—maybe simply release the videos as a daily feed, one strip's worth at a time? Obviously, the cost of producing video is so much higher than producing print that, to even bother with it, the studio is going to want to make the length sufficient to justify the effort. I mean, a team of people producing a single, 30-second animated strip a day? It sounds ridiculous. But that feels like the proper delivery method—rather than artificially packaging them into a piece that's "long enough" to justify the expense and that, by its nature, falsely suggests the narrative structure of a longer piece, rather than a string of gags.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Jennifer and Matthew Holm interviewed at Everead

Jenni and I were interviewed by Everead:

...What is the best and worst of working with your sibling?

JENNI:
Matt "crashed" on my IKEA couch in my studio apartment in NYC for several months at one point. I always say that if we survived that, we can survive just about anything.

MATT:
Best: She's incredibly easy to work with, and we have a common repository of childhood experiences and favorite books that help form our creative sensibility.
Worst: She took all of the Peanuts books from our parents' house!
Check out the whole interview, plus a fun Mad Lib we created!

Babymouse: Skater Girl review (by a younger reviewer)

Came across this link via the comments in the Newsarama interview. It's a review at Riverside Reads by "Darren:"

This book is about a little girl mouse who loves to skate. I like this book because there is a lot to read and because it is funny. It is created by the illustrating team of Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. I wonder how many books they have written, because I would like to read more of them.

Babymouse Halloween Costume Wrap-Up

I received some great photos of people (grown-ups) dressed up as Babymouse for Halloween. The first is from librarian Lori Ess:


So cute! I love the knee socks.

Meanwhile, the folks at Random House hold a Halloween costume competition each year between the Editorial, Marketing, and Sales departments. This year, members of the Editorial department each went as different Babymouse covers!

Says editor Shana Corey: "So we didn’t win best costume, but our cupcakes did win best bribe to the judges..."

Anyone else out there (kids or grown-ups) have Babymouse costumes? Send me the photos!


UPDATE: Found a close-up shot of super-rad Random Houser Jim Thomas as Babymouse: Rock Star on the PW Halloween costume round-up page, which has many more awesome kidlit costumes:


Monday, November 3, 2008

Matt and Jenni Holm interviewed at Newsarama.com

An interview that Jenni and I did with Zack Smith at Newsarama.com is now up! We talk about our process and Babymouse's origins, and also get a bit more in-depth regarding our comics influences. We also talk about the upcoming book, and its influences:


NRAMA: And you just had the latest Babymouse come out...

MH: Yeah, Babymouse: Monster Mash. It’s a Halloween-themed, and there is no pink, all in orange and black! It’s been very exciting, and kids have really been into it. And boys like it, because they tell us they enjoy the series, but feel weird about picking up a pink book. (laughs)

And then we have Babymouse: The Musical, which is of course a takeoff on High School Musical and that whole craze. It’s a spoofing every big musical ever, because Jenny grew up in the age of Broadway musicals, and our house was full of Annie and Cats...

JH: We gave little recitals from Grease in the living room.

Why I Vote

There are lots of reasons to vote. But here's my big, simple reason. It has nothing to do with patriotism. It has nothing to do with the rarity and preciousness of the right to choose who operates your government for you, which has never been enjoyed by the vast majority of humanity throughout history. It has nothing to do with our fathers and grandfathers and founding fathers who put their lives on the line so that we would continue to enjoy that right in our own country, as well as grant that right to others in distant countries. It has nothing to do with our grandmothers and great-grandmothers who marched stoically in the streets, looking like scandalous buffoons, to get a right they should have been granted but weren't because it was "common knowledge" that women were idiots. It has nothing to do with the people who were beaten bloody by our own public servants simply because they tried to register to vote.

No, it's a very simple, practical reason. I don't trust that many people. I don't trust that they'll do a better job than I would. I work very hard, and think carefully before I act. I don't often see others doing the same. So there's no way that I'm going to leave major decisions—about my money, about where I can and can't live, about who I can and can't live with, about how I run my business, about the food I eat, about the safety of my neighborhood, about the safety of my country and the way it behaves toward the rest of the world—to somebody else. And that's what happens when you don't vote. You're trusting that other people are better at making those decisions for you than you are at making them for yourself.

Maybe you're a knucklehead. Maybe everyone else is better at making those decisions than you are. But if you're not, then you need to vote.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Some Quick Babymouse Shout-Outs

Saw that Little Willow recommended Babymouse: Monster Mash as one of her Best Books of October 2008.

Also, Linda over at "In Linda's Library" recommended the Babymouse series as a great "First Chapter Book:"

One of the most exciting times in any one's life (and equally fun to observe over and over) is when the ability to read takes hold and the wonderful world of literature suddenly opens itself. Ever since Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat there have been special books just for those readers who are just beginning to be able to read to themselves. There are increasing numbers of really good stories that fall into this category. Older readers still look for these books and remember them with great fondness. I read new ones eagerly and laugh at the jokes as hard as I would have over fifty years ago when I was just learning to read....

Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Jennifer Holm is a favorite with girls (and a few boys brave enough to overlook the ever-present pink) who are just learning to read and those who are confident readers who continue appreciate the humor, some of which is quite sophisticated on many levels. The graphic format means that it is easy to grasp what is going on whatever ones reading level. The stories are full of humor and everyday experiences.