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What was likely the busiest New York Comic Con ever, this year’s highly anticipated fall extravaganza, once again, drew an energetic array of Graphic Universe authors, illustrators, agents, and fans to Big Apple’s Javits Center.
A frenetic scene at the Graphic Universe booth at the heart of Comic Con
All the way from Denmark, came Lars Jakobsen, creator of the greatly enjoyable GU series Mortensen’s Escapades. Lars’ talent was on full display Friday as he illustrated and signed images of his eponymous time traveling main character. He feverishly drew so many original vignettes in the hour that he could have probably completed a new volume.
Eager fans lining up for autographs from Mortensen’s Escapades author-illustator Lars Jakobsen (left) and Guinea PIG author Colleen AF Venable (right)
The next day, and perhaps the most frenetic of the weekend, saw two memorable GU signings. First, the prolific author Dan Jolley provided autographs for several of his recent titles—The Girl Who Owned a City and My Boyfriend is a Monster series. It was followed that afternoon by the Eisner-nominated dynamic duo of author-illustrator Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue who captivated the crowd with their latest Guinea PIG title Raining Cats and Detectives.
Graphic Universe author Dan Jolley handing over a signed copy of his book (left); Little White Duck Illustrator Andrés Vera Martínez with Lindsay Matvick, Lerner Senior Publicist (right)
Sunday was designated “Kids Day’, which was a perfect fit for the Illustrator-author husband and wife team of Andrés Vera Martínez and Na Liu who showcased their starred reviewed book Little White Duck. Fitting because their delightful young daughter, Mei Lan, was there to sign books too. And I must say she demonstrated an early gift for the activity.
Kathleen Clarke, Lerner Trade Show Manager with Robyn Chapman, Graphic Universe Editorial Assistant (left picture); Convention goer chatting with Carol Burrell, Graphic Universe Editorial Director and GU author Dan Jolley (right)
In addition, Spanish agent and friend Eduardo Alpuente, who represents many GU contributors (illustrators, colorists, and letterists) overseas made several appearances at the GU booth. The most memorable one was when accompanied by a friend, Alberto, a master magician, who mesmerized us with an impromptu card trick.
A young Guinea PIG fan (left); One of thousands of eye catching costumes at Comic Con; and Lars Jakobsen posing as Mortensen (pictured right) with Kasper Bent Rasmussen, Assistant Cultural Officer of the Royal Danish Consulate General (left)
And, of course, the convention couldn’t have been carried out without the tireless efforts and well-honed skills of the Lerner staff, including Lerner VP, Director of Marketing Terri Souter, the very pregnant Senior Publicist Lindsay Matvick, Lerner Trade Show Manager Kathleen Clark, GU Editorial Director Carol Burrell, and GU Editorial Assistant Robyn Chapman.
(above) A variety of fans gathered for autographs at the Graphic Universe booth
In an adjacent hall was “Artist Alley”, a venue where independent artists showcased their works.
Carol Burrell, Editorial Director, participating on a panel discussion (left); A quiet moment at the GU booth with The Little Prince display in foreground
On any given spring weekend in New York the city comes alive with street fairs and conventions. Last weekend (April 28-29), Graphic Universe was right smack in the middle of one such festival. The annual Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) fest, taking place at the historic 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue, was center stage for aspiring and seasoned comic book artists alike to show off their wares and expand networking. It was also a perfect place for comic book aficionados just to take in a festive atmosphere.
Carol Burrell with GU authors Lars Jakobsen and Colleen AF Venable.
This year Graphic Universe had prime real estate at the event as well some notable GU authors and illustrators on hand. A continual stream of interest surrounded our booth with special guests like Lars Jakobsen who came all the way from Denmark. He was there to promote his much anticipated, upcoming time-traveling-detective series Mortensen’s Escapades, which is expected to be released this September. Lars also demonstrated his impressive drawing chops by offering free sketches to convention goers. And then there was the always effervescent Colleen AF Venable of Guinea PIg fame—one of Graphic Universe’s favorite and bestselling authors. And to round off the booth was the much admired GU illustrator Alitha Martinez, whose My Boyfriend Bites (from My Boyfriend is a Monster series) was one of the most requested titles there. Other well-received books were The Girl Who Owned A City: The Graphic Novel, and series Lou!, The ElseWhere Chronicles, Nola’s Worlds, and Miss Annie.
Although tiny compared to the New York Comic Con, this fun little convention packs a punch when it comes to artistry and earnestness in comics and graphic novels. Graphic Universe is always proud to be part of it.
Last Wednesday morning, I hopped on the subway from Brooklyn and headed to the Graphic Universe office at the Empire State Building in Manhattan. But on that day, the GU office was just a temporary stop to grab a box of books and then to continue my way uptown to an elementary school. By uptown I mean way uptown, to the northernmost tip of the island, in a neighborhood called Inwood at 10th Avenue and Dyckman Street. This is where P.S. 5 sits and where the talented Graphic Universe illustrator Alitha Martinez’s son attends school. But this was no ordinary day–it was career day and great anticipation was in the air. Today Alitha was on hand to share her impressive career as a comic book artist—both with DC Comics and, yes, with Graphic Universe and its critically acclaimed series Twisted Journeys and My Boyfriend is a Monster.
The day proved to be a huge success–not only for Alitha, who marvelously inspired the students with her artistic gifts and career accomplishments–but also a winner for Graphic Universe. I was told that kids at this school just love Graphic Universe books. Indeed, the process of teaching rather mundane subjects comes alive through comic books. Utilizing graphic illustrations to convey ordinary topics in ways that kids can truly appreciate and understand is a remarkable feat. And Graphic Universe books shine bright in that department.
I now have proof of this.
After her presentation the jubilant Alitha wrote to me with this: “It really strikes a chord with the kids when they can see books as more than something that’s forced on them. In the play yard on a beautiful day children were huddled around reading. The manga math book and the tricky journeys, WOW!! Teachers were in love. Kids wanted more to take for their siblings….I only had 30. Kids wanted a book that taught math?? You really had them properly tricked into learning with that one.”
Wouldn’t it be great if Alitha continued the career day tradition next year at P.S. 5! (In fact, she was present the past couple years with equally memorable experiences.) Come to think about it, imagine spreading this idea to having career day participation with dozens of GU authors and illustrations in schools across the country. There could be quite a lot of eager people and it would certainly help spread the word to kids, parents, and teachers about the wonderful line of GU books.
Alitha further espoused the benefits of GU and its stellar line of educational and entertaining titles by declaring that “they remembered every book by name that was brought over the years.”
How can you beat that? Great news for children’s book publishing!