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Great news for the kids who will be attending the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this  weekend.  Colleen AF Venable, the fantastic author of the highly entertaining series Guinea PIG, Pet Shop Private Eye will be making an appearance and participating in an array of kid events there.  Colleen will speak on a book design panel (her fans may not know this, but Colleen designs graphic novels at her day job).  She’ll also give a live reading for the Carousel cartoon slide show, judge a comic costume contest, and lead a cartooning workshop.

The amazing thing about Coleen and her Guinea Pig books is that they strike the perfect balance of cleverness, humor, and mystery.  Colleen has garnered a whole cadre of enthusiastic kids and kids-at-heart who have been captivated by the adventures of the lovable Hamisher and capable Sasspants.  No doubt she will be a hit this weekend at TCAF.

Speaking of captivated audiences, it appears the judges at Young Adult Library Services Association were similarly enthralled by another great Graphic Universe series called My Boyfriend Is a Monster and specifically the title I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang and Janina Gorrissen.  The funny, offbeat and suspenseful teen romance series about girls who date boys who happen to be monsters (not figuratively but literally) has just been nominated for the coveted YALSA 2012 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Award in the fiction category. We wish them all the best of luck!



This great photo, and many others, are by Jody Culkin and part of “Photo Mania: MoCCA 2011” in Publisher’s Weekly.

For another look at this year’s MoCCA Fest, I give you Danny Lerner. Danny just joined us at the Graphic Universe office. This was his first MoCCA Fest, so he bring a unique perspective to the event.

The 2011 Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) Festival was held on April 9th and 10th at the historic 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. The event offered an arsenal of color and inspiration, brimming with authors and illustrators, publishers and fans of comics and graphic novels.

For Graphic Universe the event was productive and lively. Several Lerner authors and illustrators were on hand for signings and promotions including the talented author/illustrator duo of Colleen AF Venable and Stephanie Yue who brought us the popular series Guinea PIG, Pet Shop Private Eye. Also, gifted and versatile artist Yuko Ota, illustrator of both The Secret Ghost and Detective Frankenstein (from the Twisted Journeys series) was in attendance.
Although small in size and scope compared to the behemoth New York Comic Con held in October and the even bigger San Diego Comic-Con, the MoCCA Fest offers a unique opportunity for Graphic Universe to scout an exciting crop of up and coming artists who just might become the next future success stories in the comic world. And Graphic Universe is eager to play a vital part in that process.

GU Table at MoCCA 2010

Erin and husband Noah staff the table

Every year the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Arts hosts an independent comics convention, known as MoCCA Festival (or, usually, just called MoCCA as well). Held at the 26th Street Armory on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, this year MoCCA had over 400 artists. The mood and market are similar to Portland, Oregon’s beloved Stumptown Comics Fest—you won’t find superheroes or manga at MoCCA, unless the superheroes are by indy publishers and the manga is Black Jack or Red Snow.

The Graphic Universe table was located between the balloon-decorated table run by First Second Books and the table presided over by Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye author and First Second designer Colleen AF Venable, which featured her lumberjack zines, jewelry by former GU editorial intern Marianne Ways, and books by animator Scott Bateman. Although traffic seemed a little lighter this year than in 2009, we found new (very young!) readers, with lots of excitement generated by Guinea Pig, Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox, and Twisted Journeys #12, Kung Fu Masters. We sold a lot of books; met quite a few of our artists, authors, and letterers including Steph Yue, Zack Giallongo, Yuko Ota, Andrés Martínez and Na Liu, and Hyeondo Park; hobnobbed with bloggers; and bought some new T-shirts.

For me, MoCCA has always been dangerous. It’s essentially a convention all of comics that I would consider reading. In the past, I limited my time at the con. If I ran out of cash, I went home. One year I hit the ATM twice out of weakness.

Webcomics have been on the rise at MoCCA. This year the Topatoco booth had an impressive presence, with Kate Beaton signing comics next to the Wondermark guys. Beaton’s collection is self-published, but Wondermark has found distribution through Dark Horse comics, following shortly on the heels of Dark Horse’s Achewood collection. There were plenty of up-and-coming artists to discover as well, and excellent collections from students from the Center for Cartoon Studies and other schools. The quality level and creativity of the exhibitors at MoCCA 2010 reached a new high this year. Our office bookcase of books and samples is overflowing.

Expect to see Graphic Universe at MoCCA 2011 with an even wider range of titles to fit onto the table. And maybe even balloons of our own.

Colleen with sad balloon, MoCCA 2010

At the end of the convention, Colleen's balloon died.

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