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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

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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!

Graphic Universe is jazzed about its new release of the long-standing Lerner favorite—The Girl Who Owned A City, written by O.T. Nelson. This time it’s in full graphic novel format in which intense colors and magnificent artwork splash the pages and tell the iconic story of a girl named Lisa Nelson who suddenly finds herself in charge of her Midwestern town following a mass extinction of everyone over 12.

Exquisitely illustrated by veteran comic book artist Joëlle Jones and adapted to comic book format by Dan Jolley (My Boyfriend is a Monster and the Myths and Legends series’) this new work is set to inspire a whole load of new readers.

The book, which was originally published in 1975, became required reading in many high schools across the country in the ensuing decades. I recently spoke to a woman who grew up in Illinois (during the 1980s) and she confirms this piece of high school trivia.

The title has had many incarnations over the years—not just the variety of paperback and hardcover printings (although it’s cool to look at the progression of cover art over time including an old Dell Publishing trade paperback version)—but the fact that there’s been at least one play production. The unique occasion took place on the stage of a community college in Scottsdale, Arizona in the 1990s. And from accounts on the ground it was a good, respectable adaptation.

With well over 200,000 copies of Girl in print we are gratified that another generation of young adults inclined to enjoy post-apocalyptic intrigue will continue to make this number go way, way higher. A combined “one million sold” has a very nice ring to it.

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