Posted in Comics, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Julee Laurent

Website/social media: www.lolaandlazlo.com

Tell me a little about you:  After spending nine years as a freelance journalist I am focusing my attention of writing books. The idea for ‘Lola and Lazlo’ was inspired by two things, first, seeing the collective noun ‘A Bevy of Beauties’ as a name for a local all female improv group in Chicago. It made me look up other collective nouns and I thought they could be crafted into a fun children’s adventure. secondly, I had a  disagreement with my 14 year old son that ‘Prolly’, ‘Nother’, and ‘LOL’ were not real words; even though they are popular texting language. He said they were ‘text language’. It made me realize the rise of cell phone use and tablets among very young kids has created a diminished curiosity of the written word and I wanted to find a new way to instill lessons in language to kids. So we disguised a journey through collective nouns in a book that literally  translates the words so that kids learn something, and have a fun read. We also included a glossary on the back so that kids don’t have to look up a word on their phone, that way the book is self contained and the phone won’t come in and distract from the book. I have been published in Gannett Press Newpapers, Redbook, Marie Claire, Village Voice Media, Tribune News Papers, DiG Magazine, Censored Magazine, InReview and was a copywriter for Diesel Clothing and Coca-Cola. Right now we are working on part two of Lola and Lazlo, as well as a book about a little seagull with big dreams!

– When you were my age (9), did you like to read? I always loved to read. I would spend my summers in 4th, 5th and 6th grade in the bubble window at our local library curled up in there reading. We lived in Gulf Breeze Florida so it was nice to sit in the air conditioning and escape to wherever the book would take me.

What was your favorite author or book? I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. And then when I got into Middle School I loved Stephen King.

how do you get your story ideas? Imagination is the key, do not limit your mind or creative thoughts. Some people stop the creative process because they worry that what they are thinking is a weird idea, or that nobody will like it. What we do to often in our society is put limits to our other peoples opinions. I think that is why I like the movie Shark Boy and Lava Girl, the director gave us a reminder of what its like to imagine freely and incorporate that imagination into our daily lives.Dream on!

is it hard to write a book? In short, yes, and no. Its a matter of just sitting down and doing it. That is harder than it sounds. It’s work, but its work you enjoy, work that lets you create and make something new. Finding the time as a person with a day job and two kids is challenging, but you just have to be disciplined and get it done when you can find the time, also you have the be able to summon your creativity when you have time. I have songs or art I listen to and look at if I know I don’t have much time so that I can kick start the creative process and get the most out of my short amounts of writing time.

what authors do you like right now? Any lesser known ones you can recommend? I am reading Donna Tartt right now and Phil Roth. Both genius writers. I also read the real life story of Henrietta Lacks. Its a great story because she passed away a long time ago but her cells are still helping the fight against Cancer.

what is the best part of being an author?  When you get that 1st shipment of physical book that you wrote in the mail and open the box. Its an “I did it” moment!

– I met you at a Comic Con. What is that event like as an author? Fun Fun Fun! Going back to what I said earlier about people having to limit their imaginations in our society does not apply at Comic Con. In fact its all based on imagination and a love for creating. I also love that everyone is welcome and accepted at a Comic Con. Since my book is not the normal type of children’s book you see, I wanted to be there because I knew that this crowd would understand what Lola and Lazlo: Into the Woods was trying to accomplish. And they did. I always have biught books for my kids at Comic Cons. A few years ago I bout one at Motor City Comic Con called ‘Nawrg’ by  Tyler Kirkham. Its a book about adoption but in a beautiful fairy tale style book. You never know what kind of fun things you find in Artist Alley.

any advice for a kid who wants to be an author? Write, write, write. As much as you can. Also, don’t get too attached to your words because you will always have to edit some away to make the story flow better. Lastly, embrace your creativity. Nobody thinks like you do so whatever you create from your imagination is uniquely your own.

Posted in Book Review, Comics

Witch

I am feeling behind in my reviews and I didn’t need to start a new book, but I did anyway. I needed something quick and just for fun. Witch fits that role perfectly for me.

Witch is not about witches. It is about a group of friends who initials spell Witch. Haha – I wonder if my friends and I could do this. Nope we need more vowels! The friends are just regular girls until they are chosen to be guardians to protect Earth. Then they sprout wings, their shirts no longer cover their stomachs and some have no pants! Sorry I just think the outfits are a bit silly.

The book is about their adventures as guardians. It takes them a bit to become good at being a guardian. That helps to understand you don’t have to be good at the beginning. It is also a book about friendship and protecting your friends.

The comic book store said this was an older series that has been rereleased. They had read it when they were younger. So some adults may remember the series. Adults would enjoy this series as would kids.

Posted in Comics, Graphic Novels

Dan Mishkin


Tell me a little about you: I’ve written comics professionally since 1979, and I’ve loved comics since the first time I read one at age 5. I think it’s fair to say that comics shaped who I am as a person — because they fired up my imagination, showing me that there were all sorts of possibilities in the world that I hadn’t dreamed of; and because they gave me role models whose actions taught me that the amount of power you have in life is not as important as how you use that power.

Describe event: The Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival is a free, two-day celebration of comics held at the Ann Arbor District Library (downtown). There will be over 50 cartoonists and writers on hand who will not only have comics to sell, but are eager to share their passion for making and reading them. We’ll also have hands-on comics-making workshops, art demonstrations, interactive drawing games, and an awesome music and dance party!


What is the easiest part of the event? Most of the work I contribute to A2CAF takes place before the event, so the easiest part is attending — and especially having lots of conversations about comics with kids, teens and adults.

What is the hardest? The hardest part is making sure we’re sharing all the information we need to with our Artists Alley guests, library staff and the public in a timely way. And that we’re hearing about concerns when they first come up and are more manageable. There are a lot of people we need to keep in communication with from about January forward in order to make sure the two days in June go smoothly.


As a writer yourself, how did you get started? I was lucky that when I was trying to break into the comic book field, DC Comics was publishing anthology series featuring stories that were sometimes as short as 2 or 3 pages — usually science fiction, fantasy or horror and often with a twist ending. That made it easier for an editor to take a chance on a new artist or writer, knowing they wouldn’t ruin an issue with one clunker of a story, or worse, turn out 20 or more pages of unpublishable work that the company would still have to pay for. The first story I got to do in comics was the only idea one editor liked out of a dozen I sent him, and he gave me 3 pages to tell it.

What is your favorite comic you have worked on? I’ve had a lot of great experiences working on superheroes like Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman — sometimes with editors and artists that I’d idolized in my childhood — as well as on titles like Star Trek and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (and even a Roger Rabbit story). But my favorites have been the comic book series that I helped create, like Blue Devil and Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld

Why do you think kids should read comics? My hope is that comics can still do for kids today what they did for me as a child: expand their imaginations and help them see that life doesn’t have to be limited by other people’s expectations. Making comics can also be a great outlet for creativity and expressing emotions. And as many people have pointed out (though this is actually at the bottom of my personal what-comic-are-good-for list), they can be a stepping stone to all kinds of reading that some young people might have a hard time starting out with — which is fine by me as long as they don’t then abandon comics.

Can you recommend a comic series to me? If you haven’t read it already, the Zita the Spacegirl series by one of this year’s A2CAF guests, Ben Hatke, is one of my favorites. (Bridget note: agreed. I like Zita a lot) And I hear terrific things about Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. You could even try my old Amethyst series, which has been collected into a single paperback volume.

Bridget Note: if you can join this event next weekend, I hope to see you there!

Posted in Book Review, Comics, Graphic Novels

Cleopatra in Space 4: The Golden Space


By Mike Maihack

You can’t buy this book quite yet but definitely put this on your to buy list. You can preorder it (my favorite comic book guy did for me). While you are at it, get the first three if you don’t have them already. This is a series I strongly recommend for kid readers!

It is about Cleopatra (our favorite Space heroine) going into space and not following directions, as usual. Seriously Cleopatra, can’t you follow the rules just once?

So the Golden Lion is a source of energy. Cleopatra is not supposed to have anything to do with it. But she does anyway. 

There is a bad guy out to get her. That add extra drama to the story.  I couldn’t put the story down. I have re read it so many times I have lost count.

She and Kensu get into a fight. They fight like they are siblings.

I absolutely love the artwork in this book. Cleopatra has some super awesome costumes. I made her uniform for Comic Con but really want to make her island look.


I was so excited to get my advanced copy of this book. Do you know how hard it is to wait a year for your favorite book series to update? The only downside is I have to wait a whole year for book 5 😭

I just love Cleopatra. She is my favorite book character (don’t worry Penguin, you are my favorite book animal character). 

I was reading Gronk the other day and immediately recognized artwork by Mike Maihack. I haven’t met him yet but one day I will and he can sign all my Cleopatra books! 😆

Me as Cleopatra with Captain Phasma

Ps check out this funny image at the back of the book