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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

The School Library Journal recently reviewed Detective Frankenstein by Alaya Johnson and Yuko Ota, book 17 in the Twisted Journeys series.  In addition to their review, they offered some history on the interactive genre known as gamebooks.  this piqued my interest, so I went searching for more information.

Did you know there are three types of gamebooks: the branching-plot novel, the role-playing game solitaire adventure, and the adventure gamebook?  The branching plot novel is usually written in the second person and requires the reader to make choices.  Otherwise, it is similar to a typical novel.  Twisted Journeys is an example of this kind of gamebook.  To learn more, visit gamebooks.org.

Choose Your own Adventure books were first published out of Vermont in 1976, but they weren’t the first gamebook. In the late fifties interactive books were used as learning tools.   These books could be used in the absence of a teacher by directed the student to certain pages depending on how they answered multiple choice questions (correct answers would direct the student to the next question, incorrect answers would direct them to review pages).

Here is a small portion of what the School Library Journal had to say about Detective Frankenstein:

“Johnson has provided over a dozen possible outcomes for the story, encouraging kids to re-read the book until they achieve their desired ending. For reluctant readers, the stories’ length and hybrid format may help overcome resistance to the idea of sitting down with a book for fun. Best of all, the stories are just spooky enough to engage the imagination, but not so gory or grim as to be genuinely upsetting. Recommended for readers in grades 2-5.”

Read the full review on Good Comics for Kids.

Robyn Chapman here, editorial assistant at Graphic Universe.  Like the rest of New York, my neighborhood was hit hard by the blizzard.  Here was the view outside my Brooklyn apartment yesterday morning.

Blizzard or not, I had to venture out.  I am cat-sitting for several families in Queens, and those cats were hungry.  I made it to Queens, but I sure could have used a pair of snowshoes! 

Our storm might have been nasty, but it can’t compare to the Great Blizzard of 1888, one of the most severe blizzards in America’s recorded history. Snowfalls in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts ranged from 40-50 inches.  Winds of over 45 miles per hour created huge snow drifts (imagine a snow drift over 50 feet high!)  Tragically, over 400 people died.

The Snowshoeing Adventure of Milton Daub, Blizzard Trekker tells the story of a real-life 12-year old who braved the Great Blizzard of 1888.  With the aid of some homemade snowshoes, he traversed the snow in his Bronx neighborhood.  He went out seeking milk for his family, and ended up delivering groceries and medicine to several neighbors.  It’s a great story to share with your children on a cold winter night.

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