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Get Graphic: A Day at the North Texas Teen Book Festival, part 1

Mary Hinson, Thing 2 and The Teen at the North Texas Teen Book Festival

This past Saturday I took both girls (and a dear friend) to the North Texas Teen Book Festival in Irving, Texas. This was Thing 2’s first trip to the festival, but The Teen’s 4th. I’m going to give you a recap of the graphic novel panels, which Thing 2 and I attended. Later today The Teen is going to share her experiences at the festival.

Thing 2 and friend attend the North Texas Teen Book Festival

Operation Meet Raina Telgemeier

Regular readers may recall, Thing 2 has dyslexia and we have struggled to find things that she can, will and enjoys reading. But she loves graphic novels! So when I learned that there was going to be a graphic novel track at this year’s North Texas Teen Book Festival, I was excited to share the news. Thing 2 was ecstatic, especially when she learned that Raina Telgemeier was going to be there. So we woke up early on the first official day of Spring Break to journey to Irving, Texas in hopes that my youngest child could meet one of the people who has actually managed to get her reading. That was our only goal for the day which we dubbed, Operation Meet Raina Telgemeier. I talked to a lot of kids that day and let me assure you, we were not the only ones in attendance with this goal.

Getting Graphic at the North Texas Teen Book Festival

Our first panel of the day was called Draw Off and it featured several graphic novel artists doing just that – having a drawing competition. The authors on this panel included Robin Ha, Maia Kobabe, Kat Leyh, Yehudi Mercado, Kayla Miller, Andy Runton, and Lily Williams. All but Kayla Miller and Andy Runton were new to Thing 2.

It was a lot of fun to see these graphic novelists drawing live on the stage. A member from the audience was chosen and they were instructed to pick a vegetable, an animal and a means of transportation which served as a prompt for the illustrators. The audience member chose a hedgehog, mushroom and boat. The illustrators were divided into 3 teams and they came up with a concept that incorporated those three elements and turned them into a story. Along the way they talked about things like their process, thumbnail sketching, penciling, inking, etc. It was a fun, basic introduction to graphic novels.

What Do You Do While You Wait at a Teen Book Festival? Read, Of Course!

The next graphic novel panel was set to feature Raina Telgemeier and while we waited, Thing 2 sat there and read the Telgemeier book Sisters which she had brought to get signed.

Making a Graphic Novel from Start to Finish

And then, finally, Raina Telgemeier took the stage with Lucy Knisley and Yehudi Mercado. They walked audience members through the entire process of making a graphic novel, from pitching an idea to an agent or editor to creating the final product. It was a lot of interesting information.

Thing 2 and friend were astounded to learn that it took 5 years to create the Smile graphic novel and that on average, it takes about 2 to 2 1/2 years to create each book. We also learned that many graphic novel artists don’t do the coloring for their books and that you can get a paid job coloring in the pages of graphic novels.

It was interesting to learn that Raina Telgemeier and Lucy Knisley draw their books by hand and Yehudi Mercado uses a variety of computer programs to create his books. They emphasized that everyone has their own process and there is no one right way to create a graphic novel. It was all very fascinating to learn about.

And then . . .

We ended our day with lunch and then a long wait in the signing line to help make all Thing 2’s dreams come true. It was a really long wait, some people got tired while others just got more excited.

And come true they did!

We left that day with a new appreciation of what it takes to create a graphic novel, a couple of new graphic novels to read, and a signed copy of one of her favorite books by one of her favorite authors. All in all, it was an amazing day!

As we were driving home Thing 2 was already making plans for going back the next year.

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