26 July 2009

YA Lit:: Barry Lyga's Goth Girl Rising

The comics!
The obsessions!
The insanity!

If you enjoyed Barry Lyga's The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl and you have a thing for getting your creative freak on, then you should seriously consider entering this awesome contest that may just get you a signed copy of its sequel Goth Girl Rising.

From what I understand, the sequel will really bring to light exactly why Goth Girl is as effed up as she is.

So bust out your... well, whatever you need to make a book trailer. Or if you're just interested in seeing the trailers that have already been done, feel free to click on the link to "this awesome contest."

25 July 2009

Jumpin' Friday:: Marfa, Fort Davis, and Balmorhea, TX

Welcome to Jumpin' Friday. For those of you not in the know, here is a pretty loose description of what I call a jumpy:

A librarian (me) + a road trip + a library + a camera = a jumpy, or a picture in mid-jump

This road trip was for a destination wedding, and the following pictures show the trip back to San Antonio from Marfa, Texas. Alas, this was on a Sunday so all the libraries we came across were closed.

a) Marfa Public Library
Marfa, TX (06.07.09)

I know, you don't see a library sign here. I swear to you that this is the town library. I know that the locals (there are a little over 2,000 of them) know that this is the library, but I still think there should be more than just a book return in front of the building denoting it as such.

b) Jeff Davis County Library
Fort Davis, TX (06.07.09)

A friend of mine from college was from Ft. Davis and I never, ever thought I'd someday find myself there. Not for lack of wanting to go-- it is absolutely gorgeous-- but it's just so far from home.
I was not disappointed, and there was something lovely about the library there. Maybe it's the fact that it helped produce one of the funniest and most intelligent men I ever met at school. I couldn't help but be thrilled to see this ode to mind travel. YEAH!

And then... there was this...

I'm all about the Boys and Girls Club, and I am all about diversity, even when it's forced. Still, I have to say that the expression on the girl on the far left left me a tad traumatized.

I told my husband, "I think she's going to EAT ME" and... um... uh... yeah. That bat isn't too inviting, either.

I'm totally going to hell for making fun of this.

c) Balmorhea Public Library
Balmorhea, TX (06.07.09)

I have a soft spot for this library even though I've never been inside and I don't have any connection to it. It wasn't in our GPS. I simply happened to see it on the main road, and I had my husband pull a drastic (yet completely responsible) James Bond maneuver. This is one of those cases where a clear library sign led the way.

And because Michael is so amazing every time he captures me in mid-air, I wanted to post this pic I took of him outside the Balmorhea Public Library.

Thank you, my luv!

24 July 2009

Random:: A YA author takes on the Americone Dream

Diana Rodriguez Wallach, a young adult author from Pennsylvania with Spanish words in all her titles, takes on the feat of a lifetime: getting Stephen Colbert on her side.

So not only does she love My So-Called Life but her attempts to get on The Colbert Report are pretty clever... This is one author I must read soon!

20 July 2009

Author Monday:: Interview with cartoonist Hope Larson

This entry marks the 5th installment of my Author Mondays, where I shall endeavor to post something “author-esque” each Monday. Whether it's an interview or a one-shot question, here is a chance for various authors to have their say.

I started reading Hope Larson's award-winning graphic novels when I was only suspecting I'd be a teen librarian. I remember picking up Gray Horses from the adult comics section of the Central Library in San Antonio. I was so completely mesmerized by Noemie's expressive features and familiarity that I wrote my first book review on it.

I couldn't find her debut Salamander Dream in San Antonio so I went through Interlibrary Loan. By the end of it, Larson had accomplished something unprecedented. I'd never reacted so emotionally to someone's entire oeuvre (she only had these two titles out at the time). Even now, reading her books this morning, I can’t help but feel she has a gorgeous way of storytelling that is unique to her.

Hope Larson was a total sweetheart by letting me interview her briefly over a year ago. The only reason why I hadn't posted it earlier was because I was waiting to interview more authors so I could post them up in a consecutive series, like I’m doing now. On an evening in June last year, I interviewed both Hope and her husband Bryan Lee O’Malley—that interview is coming next week—and I’m happy to say they were my firsts. In retrospect, I should have asked her more about Chiggers, which hadn't come out yet, and her contribution to Comic Book Tattoo. Still, this was one of the coolest things I’ve done and I’m thankful to both cartoonists for their generosity and patience.

And now, please sit back as this blog proudly presents that interview a year ago:


VG: Did you have a Eureka moment or did you just gradually make the decision to create graphic novels?

HL: I think I was kind of bullied into making them [*chuckle*] by the comics community. When I started drawing comics for the first time, it didn't click with me. It didn't seem like something that I was going to be any good at or something that I would want to have for a career. I moved to Toronto and started living with Mal [husband Bryan Lee O'Malley] and got more in touch with the comics community, I guess. There's a really good comics store, The Beguiling in Toronto, and I started reading a lot more different types of comics and I just felt like I could fit in. And then I just drew a book. And I can't really imagine doing much else at this point.

VG: Cool. Did your style start off from the very beginning? You have a very... very... [my husband slips me the answer] distinctive, yeah, distinctive style.

HL: Well, it's really evolving. It's changed a lot since the first book. Salamander Dream and Gray Horses-- I was really inspired by the artist Seth and by Charles Burns. They both have really slick inking. And I kind of wound up doing primarily vector work in the W Illustrator. So that was the style I was comfortable with-- like, really clean flowing lines.

VG: In my mind, both Salamander Dream and Gray Horses deal with innocence and isolation. Are these aspects that you're familiar with in your life?

HL: Yeah, definitely, especially isolation. They're both primarily nostalgia books. I was living in Canada and, you know, I missed the US, I missed the South. By the time I got around to writing Gray Horses, I missed Chicago too, a little bit, even though it wasn't the city for me. I missed things about it. As far as innocence... I don't really know. I guess I don't have anything to say about that.

VG: For me, the first one, that's what really touched me about it. Going back to childhood, seeing all the things one abandons as one grows older... It just... It touched me very much.

HL: Thanks. I think now [with Chiggers] I'm dealing more with the down and dirty version of childhood. I'm moving more in that direction.

VG: Right, right. Of all the stories you've done, this is for your youngest audience then, right?

HL: Yeah.

VG: I guess you didn't really choose that.

HL: Yeah. I just wrote the story. My agent and publisher figured out who it was going to be for.

VG: In Gray Horses, your main character is French. Was there a reason for this, as opposed to Italian or Russian?

HL: I have a lot of fondness for France 'cause I lived there for a year when I was a kid. And I sort of remember how it felt. When I moved to France, I didn't speak any French. My parents just kind of took me and chucked me in the local village school and I had to pick it up on the go. So I wanted to translate that to a slightly older character.

VG: Two more questions. Do you have a purpose for your stories other than storytelling?

HL: I don't know. That's a hard question. I don't know what else I would do with my life if I wasn't doing this. All my thoughts run into storytelling, you know? That's what inspires me. It's what interests me. It's really the only thing, so...

VG: That's awesome. It's something I don't know that I could do, so it's very admirable. Um, okay, I lied. Two more questions. [Laughter, on both sides, not just me!] Do you have advice for up and coming [cartoonists]?

HL: Draw a lot. Write a lot. Put your work on the web-- it's really important. Try and make friends in the comics community. People are really friendly and they love to help up and comers. And be patient 'cause it takes time.

VG: And the cookies question. If you could bake homemade cookies for up to three fictional characters, who would you choose and what kind of cookies would you make?

HL: I guess I should think who first, and then figure out a cookie. Okay, I'm gonna say Meg from A Wrinkle in Time. She's one of my favorites. And... for the cookies? Hmmm. Maybe just oatmeal cookies, 'cause it gets cold up in Maine or wherever it is she lives. [Laughter]

VG: That works. Thank you very much.

HL: No problem.


As I understand it, Hope’s new book Mercury is coming out next year and she’s hard at work on something new. Also, checkci out her lovable work on Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd as edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castelluci. If you want to follow Hope on Twitter, her handle is @hopelarson. If you are lucky enough to be at the San Diego Comic-Con, then you might see her around, too. And you will be a very, very lucky person, ha ha.

17 July 2009

Jumpin' Friday:: Alpine, Texas

Welcome to Jumpin' Friday, formerly known as my Road Map entries, which consisted of my beloved jumpies across the country. For those of you not in the know, here is a pretty loose description of what I call a jumpy:

A librarian + a road trip + a library + a camera = a jumpy, or a picture in mid-jump

I've been to hundreds of libraries in various countries. Going there is easy, thanks to my adorable and dedicated husband, who has pulled many (responsible) James Bond maneuvers whenever I squeal at the sight of a library sign on the road. It's the chronicling that's hard.

And now, here's a brief look at a solitary library-- the one in Alpine, Texas.

~~Alpine Public Library
Alpine, TX (06.06.09)

There was clearly something powerful in the desert air. These are the best jumpies I've taken in a long time. My God! I'm gorgeous!

I found the mural on the library wall very special. It's called "Libraries - Windows to the World," which was designed and painted by Carol Fairlie and the Sul Ross State University Fall 2003 student mural class. I find artistic partnerships with the library to be win-win situations. It's enough to inspire anyone.

And yet, I invite you to take a closer look at this detail from the mural:

Am I misled here by interpreting these purple squigglies, upon initial gut reaction, as flamboyant sperm? I'm not sure what is forbidden here-- making babies in the library, or procreating in general, or having the creativity to have these lines represent something entirely ethereal. After all, those squigglies are dead set on hitting that castle. Could it be that the Castle of Despair is going to get a good dose of bright colors, like the tour bus in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?

Naturally, I kid because I love. It really does make me wonder, though, what the locals-- teens, in particular-- think of this artistic flare. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon, when the library was already closed, and we had no one to really ask.

Still, Alpine was very welcoming and at least the library was very clearly marked as such. Yay clear and present libraries!

04 July 2009

Jumpin' Friday:: Uvalde, Del Rio, and Marathon in Texas

Welcome to Jumpin' Friday, formerly known as my Road Map entries, which consisted of my beloved jumpies across the country. For those of you not in the know, here is a pretty loose description of what I call a jumpy:

A librarian + a road trip + a library + a camera = a jumpy, or a picture in mid-jump

I've been to hundreds of libraries in various countries. Going there is easy, thanks to my adorable and dedicated husband, who has pulled many (responsible) James Bond maneuvers whenever I squeal at the sight of a library sign on the road. It's the chronicling that's hard.

This particular trip was made recently so we could attend a wedding in Marfa, TX. Of course, we took the long way around to get some new pictures of libraries. And here they are!

a) El Progreso Public Library
Uvalde, TX (06.05.09)

We did not get a chance to go inside this library, since we were on the road and in need to reach other library destinations in the daylight. (Taking library pix at night with our Canon camera is not recommended as it makes for grainy mementos.) What I do remember of this library is that we arrived just as it was closing, and that the ants on the ground were the plumpest and most venomous-looking I've ever seen. I was scurred!

b) Valverde County Library
Del Rio, TX (06.05.09)

I'm not very flexible, particularly in tight jeans, so even though this pose on top of the sign looks easy, I guarantee you it was not. It was Husband-san's idea, and I agree that it makes for a cute pic.

Check this out! I frikkin' love libraries that advertise their services for both children and teens. Yay!

Del Rio was a good host town for us. We spent the night at a Motel 6 in front of a tiny mall where I tried to find a decent shirt.

c) Marathon Public Library
Marathon, TX (06.06.09)

Yeah, try getting a good picture out of a construction site, ha ha. Marathon is a very quiet and very hot town. The library was tiny and closed on the Saturday that we showed up. We still got some pretty good pictures.

More from this trip to Marfa coming later.

Thanks for viewing these!