Writing for GeekMom offers me many personally rewarding experiences. However, as a parent and former writing teacher, my favorite experiences are the ones I share with L – my kiddo. Thanks to Scholastic, we not only attended the Drawsome panel, but we had the opportunity to tag-team some interviews with Kristen Gudsnuk and Gale Galligan.
What is the Drawsome Panel?
Heading into the Drawsome Panel, all I knew was that some Big Names were going to be present. Led by Moderator Raina Teglemeir (Smile), Kazu Kibushi (Amulet), Molly Ostertag (The Witch Boy), Gale Galligan (The Baby-sitters Club graphic novels), Ru Xu ( New Prints), and Kristen Gudnsuk (Making Friends) informally discussed (and showed!) the creative process behind making graphic novels.
The best description of the panel is a cross between Pictionary and Story Cubes. Drawing (see what I did there?) from the audience for ideas, the author/illustrators created in-the-minute stories based a shrew and shrimp, located in the desert, with a haunted house, and a magical orb.
From there, two teams of three created unique three-panel stories showing the young fans how working together and individually through the creative process they work on fiction.
What was watching the Drawsome Panel like?
First of all, more than anything else, I loved that the room was filled with young, overexcited readers. Sitting in the room watching kids watch writers for an hour is a magical experience. In fact, at one point the excitement boiled over and became almost overwhelming because the children were so enthusiastic about their favorite authors and illustrators drawing right in front of them OMG!!!
Once the drawing session ended, however, the authors fielded questions from these curious youthful minds. The children’s questions ranged from “what kind of research did you do” to “what artist influenced you the most.” If GeekMom and GeekDad are looking for the future of our websites, they lived in that room.
For example, when asked about his inspiration, Kazu Kibuishi said, “I wanted to write comics that were more literary so I went out and made my own.” Superhero stories matter to how we see ourselves, but literacy comes in a variety of forms. Telling meaningful stories means understanding the visual text literacy is equally important.
Interested in listening to the children and the collected artists some more? Watch this video compilation of the panel:
Who is Kristen Gudsnuk?
If you’re a fan of the webcomic Henchgirl, then you already know who Gudsnuk is. Author and illustrator, she brings a breath of fresh air to any conversation. However, her story Making Friends focuses on how it feels to be lonely. The story revolves around Danny, a middle-schooler who feels a little left out in her new school. When she inherits a magical sketchbook that brings her drawings to life, she realizes that even making your own friends can have unexpected, and not always pleasant, repercussions.
As you can see in the video below, GeekKid L asks the questions we all want to know – ranging from “what inspired you?” to “how many mistakes did you make?”
Who is Gail Galligan?
As a Babysitters Club fan from back-in-the-day, I can admit that seeing my old favorites in the hands of my kid gave me a tremble of delight. The earlier books, penned and interpreted by Raina Teglemeir, opened that door. However, the new art and newer interpretations by Galligan provided GeekKid L with some additional questions.
Why are graphic novels so important?
There’s something mind-blowing about doing things that you love with your child. Scholastic very kindly humored my desire to share the experience of being a GeekMom with L.
Raising kids and getting them interested in reading can be hard. As I’ve learned about myself, and about L, not everyone reads the same way. While visualization comes easily to some, it doesn’t come easily to all. Neither L nor I “see” movies in our heads when we read. While many people espouse reading for the internal creativity it inspires, they often look down on graphic novels because “they’re not real books.”
However, that view, which many educators and parents hold, limits an entire group of readers. Kids (and adults!) who see only the words on the page can find reading less transformative. In fact, they find it slightly boring. I love a good novel, and I do read traditional books a lot. However, as I’ve gotten older, I realize that my approach to reading differs from others simply because of the way my brain works.
Graphic novels, therefore, offer a multiplicity of literacies that often get overlooked. Analyzing visual texts is more important than ever in our modern world. Whether we’re analyzing memes or GIFs or news article images, our world bombards us with visual messages daily. Sometimes, we can interpret those meaningfully. Other times, we gloss over the pictures ignoring the way they subtly impact our understanding of a story. Graphic novels allow parents to reinforce the importance of this literacy in a fun way.
Moreover, Scholastic brought a panel to NYCC that enabled kids and adults to see the way in which varied learning styles and approaches can create. The authors and illustrators approach their work differently – another lesson for the young attendees. Not everyone needs to do a million formal drafts of something and not everyone is going to write a personal story. Understanding the facets of creativity and telling kids that it’s ok to do things your way fosters a love of learning and narrative voice.
Why We Need More of These Panels
The glitz and glamour, the famous names and cosplay – all of these make NYCC fun and exciting. However, in the hoopla of major television and movie announcements, many of us forget that NYCC is, fundamentally, a convention about loving comic books.
Graphic novels are comic books, but they’re also another amazing way that reading inspires young people to create.