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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

A stellar review of I Date Dead People, the  5th installment in the My Boyfriend is a Monster series, adds to the ongoing list of positive reviews for these highly likable Graphic Universe books.

The recent write-up appeared last week on the hip and informative graphic novel review site No Flying No Tights. (I Date Dead People Review) BTW, No Flying is a worthwhile site to check out in general. Not only because of its great tastes in books (see below) but because they offer a wide range of thoughtful views about graphic novels for all ages and demographics. (noflyingnotights.com)

As many of you know, the My Boyfriend is a Monster series is an entertaining mix of romance and horror for the teen market. In each title, a young guy appears to be the perfect match for the teen girl until his true identity is revealed, perhaps he’s a vampire, a werewolf, or even a zombie. In I Date Dead People he happens to be a hundred-year old ghost named Tom who’s trapped in Nora Reilly family’s nineteenth century Victorian home. But he’s not the only ghost squatting there and the other covetous spirits are in no mood for Tom and Nora’s budding romance. Meanwhile, Nora’s parents want nothing more than to rid their house of these poltergeist pests. Will Nora and Tom have enough spirit in them to maintain a relationship? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out but suffice to say that the My Monster is a Boyfriend series does, indeed, have plenty of spirit when it comes to good reviews. Testament to this is aplenty in the recent No Flying, No Tights post. It wrote, “(R)eaders will love this different spin on love, supernatural style!” They continued with, “This fun and romantic ghost story would be a perfect late night spooky read for upper elementary and middle school readers. The story is fast paced and exciting; the mystery is intriguing and captivating.”

Since I’m on the subject of good reviews Kirkus also wrote one earlier this year saying, “The characters all sport oversized manga-esque eyes, the easy-to-follow black-and-white panels are drawn with a loose, expressive realism that effectively captures the plot’s droll and eerie turns.”

Hey, while I’m still at it, I might as well finish with the rest of No Flying No Tights’ glowing observation, “The illustrations by Janina Gorrissen, are simple black and white line drawings, but the characters are extremely expressive, and the ghosts are easily distinguishable from the living. The panels are easy to follow, and this graphic novel would be a great read for those new to the genre. Recommend to readers who like their romance with a side of ghost.”

Earlier this month kids, parents and comic books fans across the Bronx descended on the Church of the Mediator to participate in the annual Kids Comic Con. Graphic Universe’s editorial director Carol Burrell—a resident of Riverdale in the Bronx—and GU illustrator Alitha Martinez—from upper Manhattan—were on hand to represent GU’s vast array of colorful and engaging titles. Also present was Robyn Chapman, GU’s assistant editor (and Brooklyn resident), who happily made the journey north to conduct a workshop on accordion bookmaking. These books are long pieces of paper folded into sections that form a unique presentation. (See pictures below)

One of the convention’s special guests was veteran animator Dan Haskett, creator of the character designs for Disney’s Belle (Beauty and the Beast) and Ariel (The Little Mermaid), who also conducted a workshop for kids and other aspiring artists.

GU illustrator Alitha Martinez (left); the convention floor comes alive (right).

Graphic Universe’s colorful line up.

Established about five years ago by author, comic artist, and educator Alex Simmons, the Kids Comic Con formerly was held on the campus of the Bronx Community College. But because of scheduling conflicts, this year’s event was relocated to the Church of the Mediator in Kingsbridge on West 231st Street. Those who participated said the new hosts were gracious and enthusiastic.

An accordion book success! (above); a youngster engrossed in a Twisted Journeys title (below).

This convention, with its small but loyal following, will only grow in size and prestige as more young people are exposed to the art of comic books and graphic novels.

Samples of accordion books from Robyn’s workshop (left); kids working on their masterpieces (right).

Who knows, maybe someday some sort of alliance could be formed with the behemoth New York Comic Con? That would be very interesting.

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