Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It might not be Comic Con, but it was still pretty fun

This past weekend the Ann Arbor district library hosted an event called Kids Read Comics. Because graphic novels are becoming increasingly more popular with kids and in classrooms, I came to try to educate myself about this world a little bit more.

Oh, but who am I kidding? I came to hang with my Nerdy Book Club friends Brian Wyzlic, Colby Sharp, and Jen Vincent, AND also to meet my favorite graphic novelist (I do realize the list of graphic novelists I know is short, but still) Raina Telgemeier, author of Smile. Do you know why I love Smile so much? Not only did it bring back a flood of memories about my own awkward pre-adolescence (which actually could be a case for DISLIKING it, but the story was so endearing I couldn't not like it), but here's he main reason I love this book so much: even though it's kind of a girly book, boys actually read it. If I had had more time to chat with Raina, I would have loved to discuss the reasons for this with her, but Brian and I have discussed this on previous occasions and here is our theory: 1) the cover is gender neutral. There is absolutely no way to tell from looking at the cover that the story inside appeals more to girls than boys 2) By the time boys realize it's girly, they're already invested in the story or they've finished because it's such a quick read. Book publishers and cover designers really need to take a lesson from Smile and find more ways to get boys invested in reading a book before they even turn the first page. Too many boys are dismissing great books because cover designers are inadvertently (or maybe even advertently, I don't know) appealing only to girls. As a teacher who sees a large number of reluctant readers who are boys, publishers need to start better reaching out to boy readers.

Stepping down off the soapbox now... ;)

When I arrived at the event, the first thing I wanted to do was meet Raina and get my copy of Smile signed, along with buying a Smile t-shirt because Colby has been rocking the Smile t-shirt for quite some time now and so I needed to do something about my covetousness for that shirt. Luckily, despite only having a few sizes left, they had one that would fit me and I was content for the rest of the day since I got what I came for.

Raina signs and draws in my copy of Smile
I can't wait to share this picture of Raina and me with my students. They LOVE Smile!
Artist Chris Houghton signed Reed Gunther for me and then drew a picture for my class.
Brian, Colby, Jen, and me with Vordak the Incomprehensible (Photo courtesy of Colby Sharp)

At 1:30 Raina gave a "turn your life into a comic" workshop at the Robot Supply and Repair Shop a couple blocks from the library. We arrived a few minutes early and since we hadn't eaten lunch yet, Brian, Jen and, I saw this lovely little shop across the street and had to stop in for a treat
Decisions, Decisions
I went with the key lime cupcake

Back at the Robot Supply and Repair Shop, Raina gave a fun workshop about turning your life into a comic. Well, I say fun, but for me it was quite stressful since I can't draw even a stick figure to save my own life. It was much more inspiring to watch Raina at work than to try to do any sort of drawing myself.
Raina makes an outline of a story from an audience volunteer
Raina draws a comic from the story outline right on the spot
Jen and Colby admiring Raina's work
The hilarious finished comic

Overall it was a fun day of getting to hang out with friends and of course meeting great authors and artists. Oh, and let's not forget that my day was made complete by getting a Smile t-shirt and a copy of the book signed. Yay! I can't wait to wear my Smile shirt to school.
Guenter likes Smile too

1 comment:

  1. What a fun day! Wish I could have come to meet you all, but it's kind of a far drive from Tennessee. I hope to meet Raina Telgemeier one day too! Smile is fabulous.