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Graphic Universe spent about 24 hours in Maine, which was enough time to breathe in the salt air, eat several wonderful meals, and spread the love of comics around, Johnny Appleseed style.  We were in town for the the Maine Comics Arts Festival, a small but vibrant convention held on Portland’s scenic Casco Bay.

MeCAF started its programming on Sunday with a storytelling workshop lead by Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye author Colleen Venable.  The workshop was absolutely packed with Guinea Pig fans of all ages.  Since it’s a well established fact that Hamisher the hamster simply cannot draw unless he’s wearing a hat, Colleen made sure that her young students had hats to wear too.

Colleen wasn’t the only GU creator in attendance.  Two illustrators from our upcoming Tricky Journeys lines were also there: Shelli Paroline and Zack Giallongo.

Shelli illustrated Tricky Fox tales,

and Zack illustrated Tricky Rabbit Tales.  When asked which book she like best, editorial director Carol Burrell admitted “Shelli’s book is more foxy, but Zack’s book is more rabbity.”

MeCAF always attracts a large audience of children.  This is no accident–organizer Rick Lowell, of Casablanca Comics, offers free admission to kids under 12.  This year he invited Andy Runton, creator of the hits kids comic Owly, as a special guest.  Graphic Universe’s line was a big hit among this crowd–they bought all the copies on Hamster and Cheese we brought, and the eagerly paged through our Twisted Journeys and Nola’s Word.  MeCAF is our kind of convention, and we will certainly be back next year!

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If you’ve been following my posts, you’ve probably noticed Graphic Universe has been visiting a lot of comic festivals and convention recently. Just two weeks ago GU author Colleen Venable attended the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, and gave this interview to Good Comics for Kids.

Another convention is coming up: MeCAF in beautiful Portland, Maine.

Maine is known for 3,500 miles of picturesque coastline, lobsters, and Stephen King. Now add one more thing to the Pine Tree State’s bragging rights: The annual Maine Comics Arts Festival (MeCAF) which takes place this weekend (Sunday, May 22) in Portland on beautiful Casco Bay.

MeCAF promises to be a must-attend event with a unique array of comic creators, authors, illustrators and publishers on hand. It’s one of our favorite kid-friendly conventions (kids 12 and under get in free!) And the best reason to check it out is that Graphic Universe’s very own talent will be right in the thick of things. In fact, graphic novel stalwart Colleen AF Venable, the author who brought you the sensational series Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye, will be leading an interactive storytelling workshop for kids! This event takes place Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at the Ocean Gateway (lower level). Read the full MeCAF schedule for more details.

To add to the excitement, the artist Zack Giallongo, illustrator of Tricky Rabbit Tales will make an appearance.

Zack had the honor of illustrating this year’s MeCAF poster.

Plus Graphic Universe’s very own Carol Burrell (Editorial Director) and Robyn Chapman (Editorial Assistant) will be present and offer their expert knowledge and advice to fledgling comic artists.


Carol, at a prior MECAF.  Look at that view!

Hope to see you this Sunday in Portland!

The planets must have aligned on April 16th. For some unknown reason, a number of comic convention and festivals were held across the country on that day. In the Bronx we had Kid’s Comic Con, attended by our own Carol Burrell, Colleen AF Venable and Yuko Ota. In Portland, Oregon was Stumptown Comics Fest, one of my favorites. Portland likes comics so much, they’ve made April Comics month! AND, there were two new festivals in Massachusetts, the Paint and Pixel Festival and Graphic Women. I was invited to the later.

Graphic Women: Comics, Autobiography and Mapping Memory was a series of readings, talks and workshops held at Wellesley College.  Special guests included Alison Bechdel, Lynda Barry and Hillary Chute.  I was invited to give a cartooning workshop to a small group of Wellesley students.

Each student created a pages of comics, and to make it fun, I gave them a unique piece of writing to adapt: postcard correspondence.  I have a collection of postcards (with real messages on them!) that I bought at an antique store. Below is one student’s comic page, and the postcard that inspired her.

I published their pages in a minicomic that was titled, of course, Wish You Were Here.

I had a really wonderful time at Wellesley College, with this smart and talented group of women.  Wish I can visit again soon!

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