On Saturday September 26, I was at the Houston Public Library for Graphic Novel Day. It was a great learning experience for fans young & old, as well as those wanting a career in comics. The speakers for the day included Barbara Slate (You Can Do Graphic Novels), Gene Yang (American Born Chinese), Esther Pearl Watson (Tammy Is Unlovable), and Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise). I have to say I was very happy to see a large number of women in attendance. While there I got meet two awesome girls Meredith and Ciana whose work everyone should be on a lookout for.
The day started with a talk from Gene Luen Yang who gave an interesting talk on his Comics. Yang discussed what defines the comics medium and what distinguishes it from other media. He also shed light on the process of making comics by defining key terms.
The panel got off to a great start by discussing current projects that the panelists are working on. Along with industry changes worth noting; some of the changes mentioned were the growth in jobs for illustrators, and the growing market for digital comics. Things took a turn for the humorous when the panelists shared stories of their convention experiences. One of my favorite stories was Esther Pearl Watson, who told a story of having her hand kissed by Matt Groening, who told her how much he loved Tammy Is Unlovable. A key lesson to take from the panel was the importance for anyone wanting to be in the industry to educate themselves on the business side of comics.
Following the panel writer and artist Terry Moore participated in a question and answer session, which proved to enlightening for up and coming writers wanting to break into the industry. During the session Terry Moore shared his insight on the good and bad of self publishing. Moore, who is known for comics featuring strong women, credited the women he grew up around as being an influence.
The day drew to a close with Esther Pearl Watson who gave an entertaining Q and A in which she shared the origins of Tammy Is Unlovable. Finally, Barbara Slate held a workshop on creating graphic novels. The workshop was great bouncing off ideas on ways to overcome writes block and develop new characters.
A big thank you has to go out to Bayou City Books, Houston Public Library, and Domy Books for hosting a great event. The writers and illustrators were informative and I think it’s safe to say that everyone in attendance learned a lot. I hope we can see Graphic Novel Day as a regular event.