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Graphic Universe and Lerner participated in a variety of events last week. On Election Day, Tuesday, November 6th the NYC Department of Education 2012 Conference was held at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School at 135th Street in upper Manhattan—a gathering where teachers and librarians attend lectures, presentations and conferences. Educational Publishers like ours (and Rosen, Abdo, Holiday House) set up booths in the school’s gymnasium. I presented our spring 2013 list in one of the classrooms.

NYC Dept. of Education Fall Conference at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School on November 6th.

Coinciding with this event was Graphic Universe’s author-artist Zeina Abirached arrival in New York, following a conference she attended at the University of Cincinnati. Zeina, with her agent Nicolas Grivel on hand, signed and illustrated her starred review book, A Game for Swallows, which drew an impressive number of attendees to our table. She participated in a variety of other activities during the week as well.

Zeina Abirached, author-artist of A Game for Swallows signing copies of her book (top); Graphic Universe Editorial Assistant Robyn Chapman, Ms. Abirached, Graphic Universe Editorial Director Carol Burrell, and Nicolas Grivel on hand at the NYC Dept. of Ed. Conference (bottom).

On Thursday, November 8, she was invited to take part on a panel discussion in front of a large crowd at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy on Fifth Avenue. The event was moderated by Françoise Mouly, art editor of the The New Yorker. Six French Speaking comic artists were on hand to discuss their remarkable careers and field questions from the audience. In addition to Zeina, the participants included Nine Antico, Blexbolex, Anouk Ricard, Florent Ruppert, and Clément Baloup. The event was followed by a reception in the adjacent hall. It was a cool party in a grand historic building—the kind that looked as though it had been inhabited by a business tycoon from a previous century.

Zeina Abirached sitting on a panel at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Manhattan.

The French Comic Book Party at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy on November 8th.

Then on Saturday, November 10th, Zeina was invited to sell and sign copies of her book at the jammed-packed Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival in Williamsburg. The festival’s organizer, Bill Kartalopoulos, was gracious to invite Zeina to present Swallows at his booth. Also, Graphic Universe Editorial Assistant Robyn Chapman was there to promote her new art instruction manual Drawing Comics Lab: 52 Exercises on Characters, Panels, Storytelling, Publishing & Professional Practices.

All in all it was a production week, especially considering what just happened during Hurricane Sandy a week earlier.

A large crowd at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival on November 10th.

In keeping with the major storm that just brought so much havoc to the east coast, I thought I’d touch briefly on how comics, in one form or another, have informed us about the subject of hurricanes.

In vivid fashion, you can discover the Eisner and Harvey Award nominated graphic novel and webcomic series A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld. This outstanding New York Times bestseller focuses on a diverse group of gulf coast citizens, following their true story battles against the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.

Another graphic novel worth checking out is the visually appealing and aptly titled Hurricanes, written by Gary Jeffrey and illustrated by Mike Lacey. This book tells the story, through comics, about three of the most infamous hurricanes of the last 80 years. They include the unforgettable Labor Day Hurricane back in 1935; Hurricane Andrew that devastated Florida and the Bahamas in 1992; and, of course, a tragic Hurricane called Katrina in 2005.

And then there are the several comic book characters named “Hurricane” who have sprung up over the years. Perhaps the best known is Albert Potter or “Hurricane”, the former meteorologist and enemy of Captain Britain–United Kingdom’s answer to Captain America, published by Marvel Comics.

Undoubtedly, and rightly so, someone soon may create another graphic novel about our hurricane Sandy. And how about a superhero to help fight it, too?

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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