Strolling with the Nerd Herd: A Librarian at Comic Con
What do you do when your editor needs someone to cover the biggest comics/movie/gaming/toy convention in the country, but you’ve only got one day off? You hop on a plane to San Diego and start running around like a crazy person, that’s what you do.
It was early Friday morning and the VIZ Kids invitational was my first panel of the day at San Diego Comic Con. Senior Editors Beth Kawasaki and Traci Todd made a handful of announcements, the most exciting being the new publishing partnership between VIZ Media and Mameshiba. VIZ will be launching an original graphic novel series based on the line of Japanese mascot characters and their accompanying commercials. Each volume will contain three stories written by James Turner and illustrated by Jorge Manlongo, with short comic interludes written and illustrated by Gemma Correll. The working title for volume one is Mameshiba on the Loose, and features a group of beans hanging out around the sink, much the way kids hang around the pool. Naturally, one of the peas slips down the drain and a rescue mission is launched.
Based on the pages I saw, the art looks great, with each artist’s style complementing the other, and the description of the story (which was much more detailed than my two sentence summary) sounds charming and a great companion to other VIZ Kids titles like Happy Happy Clover and Cowa!. (I’ll admit to being seduced by the swag VIZ passed out. The Mameshiba merchandising is ridiculously cute and may replace my current need to buy random Hello Kitty tchotchkes.)
VIZ also introduced two hybrid series that will launch in October. Panda Man to the Rescue, about a flatulence-prone superhero, and Taro and the Magic Pencil, about comic book characters who come to life only to find themselves in danger of being erased, are both for kids ages six and older. Originally published in Japan, the pages have been flipped to make the prose sections of the book easier for kids to read. These combination comic and prose books also contain mazes and puzzles, which could make them problematic for some libraries. There is also more Pokemon coming, this time Pokemon Adventures Platinum. If your library is anything like my library, Pokemon is king. The book comes out in February 2011 and you know you’re going to need it, so you might as well go ahead and pre-order it now. Heh.
From the VIZ panel I hightailed it to room 5AB, where Matt Thorn interviewed renowned manga creator Moto Hagio. Fantagraphics has just published A Drunken Dream and Other Stories, a collection that spans her forty year career and includes many of her most influential short stories. Hagio, considered the mother of shojo manga, was very open and funny, and revealed much about her creative process. There will be a tremendous amount of reporting on this panel once Comic Con is over, so watch for it — I know Debra Aoki, Christopher Butcher and Shaenon Garrity all conducted interviews with her, so there should be good stuff coming soon. Good Comics for Kids’ own Katherine Dacey has posted a fantastic essay on why it’s so freaking amazing that this book has been published in English. I highly encourage you to read both the essay and the book.
After a quick lunch with friends I rarely see outside of cons, I ran over to the Yen Press panel, where, after a few new licenses were announced (Highschool of the Dead, Higurashi When They Cry: Demon Exposing Arc, The Betrayal Knows My Name, Aron’s Absurd Adventures, and Kaoru Mori’s The Bride’s Stories), the big news was that the online version of Yen Plus magazine had just gone live. A quick thinking librarian in the audience (I couldn’t see who it was, so if it was you, give yourself a shout-out in the comments) asked if libraries that had previously subscribed to the print version of the magazine would be able to become customers of the online version. Publisher Kurt Hassler responded that it might be possible for libraries to access the online version of Yen Plus, as one account can be used on multiple machines. But he also stated that an overuse of the site would send up flags, causing the account to be suspended, so my guess is that libraries would have to be judicious when sharing account information.
Due to the lack of invention of a working teleporter, I missed the Archie and BOOM panels, but taking a cue from Brigid, I’ve done a little link blogging:
- The folks over at Robot 6 have the Archie info.
- Newsarama live blogged the BOOM Kids panel.
- Top Shelf also announced new kids titles, as well as some new volumes of some of their continuing series, at their late afternoon panel. Once again Robot 6 has the story.
What was I doing when I should have been covering panels, you ask? I was out on the show floor doing quick six-question interviews with some of my favorite kids comics creators. The videos feature Jennifer Holm (Babymouse), Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules), Lark Pien (Long Tail Kitty), Matt Loux (Salt Water Taffy), James Kochalka (Johnny Boo), and Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col (Kill Shakespeare). I asked each creator the same basic questions they’ve been asked a million times (with one librarian-like ringer question thrown in because, you know, I’m a librarian). But asking each creator the exact same set of questions yielded an interesting opportunity to compare and contrast their answers. I had a ball, they didn’t seem to mind, and the interviews will be posted over the next six days. Let me know what you think and maybe I’ll do it again at New York Comic-Con.
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About Eva Volin
Eva Volin is the Supervising Children's Librarian for the Alameda Free Library in California. She has written about graphic novels for such publications as Booklist, Library Journal, ICv2, Graphic Novel Reporter, and Children & Libraries. She has served on several awards committees including the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics. She served on YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens committee for three years and is currently serving on ALSC's Notable Books for Children committee.
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