Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Raina Telgemeier & Dave Roman

I just got back from "meeting" authors Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman at their appearance at One More Page Books & More in Arlington, Virginia on August 10, 2011. Their presentation was geared towards children and the advocacy of graphic novels as an art and story medium.

I attended the one hour program with my friend Elizabeth, whom I urged a couple months ago to read Raina's book, Smile, which was recently awarded the "Best Publication for Teens" Eisner Award at San Diego Comic-Con just two weeks ago. Elizabeth enjoyed Smile, so when I found out that Raina and Dave would be coming to Virginia, I invited her to go with me. When we arrived Raina and Dave were taking suggestions from the kids for emotions and they demonstrated how to draw the expressions and gestures on an large piece of paper on an easel.

Then Raina and Dave took questions from the audience. The children were very into it and smart. Raina and Dave gave great advice about creating your own books. Almost half of the kids raised their hands when asked if they were interested in writing or drawing graphic novels. One point that was brought up a lot was how long it takes to create a comic. It took Raina five years to finish Smile and it took the same amount of time for Dave to complete Astronaut Academy. Dave said that it takes five years to make the book and five hours to read the book and then everyone wants to know when the next book comes out. This was a strong statement made during the Q&A as well as their explanation of Bristol board and the thumbnail process.

I enjoyed watching the kids who attended. Raina had a handful of girls who related to her experience with braces. One girl even had Raina sign the winter shirt, which I don't think is for sale anymore since it's not on her website. It was very much a rock star moment. It reminded me of when I was in elementary school and got to meet Valerie Tripp, author of the American Girl books. There are many moments when I read Raina's comics and feel nostalgic about my own childhood and experience growing up.

The bookstore raffled off the expressions Raina and Dave drew in the demo. Raina and Dave then signed books. I got my copy of Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery signed. Raina told Dave not to forget to sign his name when he was intensely drawing a sketch in the book for me -- then when I left the store I opened the book to find out that Raina did a sketch but didn't sign her name! I seriously think that's hilarious! I will treasure that moment. It's okay because I have many other signed and sketched Raina books (all four Baby-Sitters Club books and some mini comics). I think it's perfect that it ended up unsigned tonight.

My first knowledge of Raina was at Small Press Expo in 2004. My art friend recommend I attend the show. I didn't know much about SPX or anyone there at the time and went by myself as a volunteer so I could get in for free in exchange for a few hours of working the registration table. There was a panel about Women in Comics and I was really "drawn" to Raina's comics. This was when she was doing the Take-Out mini comics. I thought to myself: I want to take my comics to the next level. I want to do this. This was also the same SPX where Jeff Smith was a special guest. That weekend changed my life because after meeting Jeff Smith and Raina Telgemeier I was never the same. Year after year, I made an effort at each SPX to say hi to Raina and last year she was on the New York Comic Con panel I assembled called The Other Side of the Table: Lessons from Creators.

I can legitimately say that Raina Telgemeier is a big creator influence to me and I really appreciate what she does. I had so much fun tonight. Thank you Raina and Dave! Everyone please check out their books.


Jenn's Bookshelves said...

Wasn't it a wonderful event? My son, John, will remember this for some time, I'm certain!

Curls Studio said...

Yes, it was great. I have a feeling John will do something with journalism in the future!