Overview of Brooklyn Book Festival 2011

The Brooklyn Book Festival which just completed its sixth year was quite intense. Full of free panels with many scheduled at the same time and all taking place while there’s an actual book festival within Columbus Park it is a lot to take in.

Unlike Conventions such as New York Comic Con or Book Expo America, the book festival is only one day. While it claims a four day existence with many events designed to be part of the Expo beforehand, the major crux, the beautiful outdoor fest directly outside Borough Hall and star studded panels in the surrounding areas are relegated to one Sunday.

Since this entire fest is free and completely about fan service with its panels and helping smaller publishers who would normally not get noticed at the book store (which there are less and less of these days) by the average consumer, it is perfectly acceptable for one day.

Although for someone as me with such a broad expanse of book love, it really isn’t. I was able to successfully make it to four panels and see maybe 75% of the Festival in the time allotted.

I did enjoy those panels though and I got some great book info and even ended up making one singular purchase of a book on sale that was brand new and I couldn’t resist.

It’s called “The Recipe Book”, the newest project from music duo, One Ring Zero and the first publication of Black Baloon Publishing. It’s got recipes, food and music inspired essays and a CD. Josh Besh, Chris Cosentino, Tom Collichio, Mario Batali and more are involved. If I can think of more to say about it I will, but that’s all I got.

Unfortunately other than my photos during the Comics Quick Draw and a few photos of the beautiful church some of the panels took place in, there wasn’t much to capture visually. While author portraits would’ve been interesting, a press pass at this event doesn’t afford one anything special or extra. One would need to miss panels for specific author signings to get that photo and with time being a major issue here I couldn’t achieve that. Yet, I must share one of those windows from St. Ann and The Holy Trinity. They have an amazing history and should be seen purely from an artist standpoint, ignoring the religious concepts.

All in all I truly look forward to near year. The festival brings in some serious talent for their panels and the community and neighborhood make it a not miss event for anyone who loves or just even like books and reading.

BBF2011: Funny Ha-Ha-Comedy in Comics

This panel featured four very talented comics creator with various pedigrees and creators of very different types of comics all that would fall under humor in the format of sequential storytelling.
Keith Knight, a syndicated strip cartoonist he is famous for his The K Chronicles a (th)INK strips. Jennifer Hayden, creator of the strip Underwire which appeared on Act-I-Vate and the upcoming graphic novel The Story of My Tits. Kate Beaton, the creator of the obscenely popular strip and now collected edition “Hark, A Vagrant” and Michael Kupperman, writer/artist of Tales Designed to Thrizzle and the upcoming graphic novel “Mark Twain’s Autobiography: 1900-2010”. It was moderated by The Beat‘s Heidi McDonald.

The panel started out with each panelist talking about their past and why they use comedy in the majority of their work.

Jennifer told about a panel in Underwire which showed the aftermath of her accidentally hitting a deer. It displayed her thoughts on the deers defecation upon death. She received polar opposite reactions to this one panel, some found if it sad & poignant, others laughed out loud non-stop. She loves how one can use humor in comics to hide or explore tragedy easier and also allow one to say the things on the page one wouldn’t/couldn’t say in person.

Kate Beaton detailed how Hark, A Vagrant came out as started out being comics editor on her college paper and having to fill the page. She originally planned to become a professor, but the comics just spiraled. She loves how even though her strips use lots of comedy and jokes people still explore the real history afterward.

Michael Kupperman made the announcement of his and Kate’s soon to regular comedy show at Luca Lounge in Manhattan. This should be definitely something to check out if you can.

Keith talked about his history as a cartoonist and the development of the strip, but the best was his statement that “if it doesn’t make you laugh, at least it makes you think, and it doesn’t make you think, at least it makes you laugh, but when both…”

Heidi’s first official question was if they were the class clown/how did you find out you were funny? Which of course all the panelists found awkward but found good answers to.

Keith kind of dodged the questions, but dropped some pontification. On the other Jennifer stated she was the class clown and the family clown. As a kid she would stuff her dad’s tie in a drink or in his mouth. She grew up around very stuffy people and hated it, so she used humor in way of rebellion.

Kate also said she was the class clown out of necessity. She said she was a pudgy little kid, so the best defense was to be the funny kid. Being the one people looked to for funny gave her power and control unlike anything else she could ever feel and that if someone is meant for comedy they figure it out early on.

Michael just said “What they said”…

Heidi asked Kate specifically (but open to all) that because she handles obscure history if there was anyone/thing that can’t be funny. Kate stated people are always asking for Hitler, she doesn’t know why. She said some people from history are so tragic that you want to try and tackle the story, but it just doesn’t work out. She gave the example of Angelique, the famous Canadian slave accused of arson, who was hanged and burned for her crimes in the 1700’s. She felt that the story could not be approached from a humor standpoint and abandoned trying to make a comic strip version.

I personally would love to see Beaton try to tackle this one again, she could make fun of the fact that in 1700’s Canada was like 1600’s America and so on.

Heidi asked Jennifer abut how her family felt about using them in her strip. Jennifer stated she has to tread carefully and only recently found out her husband didn’t want to be in them and then was flabbergasted when he finally started reading and was “Wait, I’m barely in this anyways! Where am I?”

A story she decided to skip was the the experience of birth control and condoms discussion when her kids went off to college. Find it funny she has no problem telling us in a panel, but not in a strip.

Heidi then asked Keith about the experience of being a very controversial strip cartoonist who has had his strip pulled and banned in many markets.

Keith then went into a very intense and detailed story about a strip he did which made fun about current race relations. This particular strip made an uproar at a university and the university requested he come and talk about the strip. In reaction to the strip a small segment of black students were actually walking around campus with nooses around their necks. He needed to state that at this same university prior to this someone called in a prank terrorist threat on black students, so it wasn’t his strip that caused the problem, there already was one and the politics of that university were prone to that particular strip meant for the whole world. He also finds it funny how in black communities when a situation like this arises the media makes an effort to talk to the craziest person they can find and that’s how you get viral Youtube sensations.

The last question to get any real answers was on Influences.

Kate had stated a few, but she didn’t talk into the mike so it was hard to hear her, but I did catch her state Stephen Leacock, who I previously was not familiar with. He was a Canadian writer and scientist and Kate loves her home town Canada a lot obviously with wanting to write about Angelique and mentioning Leacock. Yup, she’s from Nova Scotia, dontyaknow?

Kupperman cited Monty Python, SCTV and the Smithsonian Book of Comics.

Hayden mentioned growing up on Archie and MAD, but really grew on Doonesbury and also Asterix and as she got older Charles Dickens. She also cited Maurice Sendak.

Knight cited Peanuts, Bill Watterson, Parliament Funkadelic and The Young Ones.

The Q & A and final questions provided nothing further, but it was a satisfying and enjoyable panel with colorful insights.

BBF2011: Eoin Colfer x Walter Mosley – GUMSHOES

We start with a reading of work.  First Walter Mosley reads from his forthcoming January 2012 “All I Did Was Shoot My Man”, the next Leonid Mcgill book. It was a spirited reading of chapter 1 and definitely whetted the appetite.

Before reading the first chapter of PLUGGED, Eoin Colfer begins with telling about the last time he was at a NY Church. He had just finished being on a Disney cruise with his wife and son, Finn. His son watched Pinocchio non-stop, which never got annoying he said mildly sarcastically. Their on the steps of I believe he said St. Patrick’s Cathedral and he tells his son to go stand on the steps for a picture. When Finn ran off up the steps without asking for money, Eoin should of known something was up. His son, a beautiful Irish boy with bright blond hair, standing on the steps, hands in prayer with priests and parish looking on and what prayer does Finn make?

“Dear God, please make me a real boy.”

In many of the questions, Walter tended to give non-answers, or things that weren’t very quotable, while Eoin was much more open and funnier. Walter definitely had his moments though.

When asked what it is about the crime fiction genre that compels him, Eoin stated that he’s always been a fan. It wasn’t till a friend asked him for a short story for a crime-fiction anthology that the ball got rolling though. He argued that he writes about leprechauns and fairies and his friend pointed out him that you take out those and his work is basically crime fiction.

Eoin is also really excited that he can be invited to Bouchercon now, it’s a dream come true.

Walter Mosley stated that crime fiction is a very important style of writing, it allows one to look into existentialism. Question what is right and what is wrong, invites you into the view of this unlike other genres which builds readers. Gives example of a story about an undocumented laborer in California, if written well, this story will get read, but if written from the viewpoint of a Chicano detective figuring out who killed the worker’s bosses you get a better audience and way to explore the setting.

The moderator asked about story flow and Eoin stated that at least for crime fiction he tries to base the story in places he’s been in enough to get a feel for the voice and demeanor of the people, which is why PLUGGED took place in New Jersey. For an example of being pulled out of a story he chose highly criticize Tom Cruise’s accent in Far and Away in completely pulling you out of the film as you got the impression that Cruise had never been anywhere near Ireland.

Colfer plans to write a book about a bum in Barbados who lays in a hammock all the time, so he’ll have to go there for the next three years for research and live that life.

In speaking about the fact that he has written all types of fiction, Mosley was quick to point out he had also written erotica. He brought up the book Blue Light as a book that he could’ve written as a mystery, but chose to tackle speculative style because of its format and that the book was about the soul. The crux of a story helps him decide what genre he will write in. Later he also brought up his young adult book 47 in relation to Eoin’s long career in that field.

Eoin stated on writing for different audiences that leprechaun fiction and pixie fiction are different. He’s also tried writing unicorn fiction. When he’s on to something he states “Oh Christ” and then “apologizes” for blurting out that statement because the panel is taking place inside of a church to accommodate the large audience.

“You can never have too many Leprechauns” Colfer also states.

When asked if PLUGGED was always planned as an adult book, Colfer goes into comedian mode once again and says that it was the editor who called him and said that the word “motherfucker” is in the book too much to be considered young adult.

He also stated that if PLUGGED sells, it’ll be a trilogy and that working on a series is akin to the building of show like Star Trek.

I got to ask one question during the Q & A and asked about name development and choosing names you hope will stick with an audience.

In terms of Daniel in PLUGGED he was originally called Lincoln, but Eoin changed because of Jeffrey Deemers. He then said Daniel was in recognition of Colin Bateman, but realized that didn’t actually work because his main guy was Daniel as well and there was a fault, but by then it was too late and “what can you do?”

Walter stated he never really thought about, but he did notice how the names he did pick ended up actually being descriptive of the characters and their lives or actually not being indicative as “Easy” Rawlins life is anything but easy.

Eoin added one joke into this question by stating he tries to use names in children’s/YA books that are great jokes for adults, but will go over kids heads. For example in an upcoming Artemis Fowl he’ll introduce Colin Scoppy.

The final question of the panel pertained to films.

Mosley stated he felt Devil in a Blue Dress was a good adaptation, but much closer of course was the adaptation/teleplay he wrote himself  “Always Outnumbered” starring Laurence Fishburne.

Eoin stated he had one TV adaption done of his work which he enjoyed. I had to look up to discover that adaptation was a still uncollected and never aired in the US,  CBBC series based on “Half Moon Investigations”.

Eoin got to end the panel jokingly stating that hopefully Tom Cruise will end up working on the adaptation of Artemis Fowl.

The way Hollywood works, we’ll get Tom trying to do an Irish accent for the film version of PLUGGED. One can only hope the book does that well in the end.

BBF11: Comics Quick Draw!

The first panel I attended at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival was titled “Comics Quick Draw!”. It featured three of my favorite writer/artists as well as people. Dave Roman, co-creator of Jax Epoch and a writer of Avatar-The Last Airbender comic stories, he is currently best known for his Astronaut Academy series and is working on a colored and collection edition his Teen Boat series with John Green. Raina Tegelmeier did the very successful comics adaptations of Babyistter’s Club and the Eiser Ward winning autobiographic SMILE, she is currently developing her next original graphic novel, a story taking place in middle grade. Laura Lee Gulledge has been a gallery artist and her first semi-autobiographic graphic novel Page by Paige came out in 2011, she is currently at work on her second graphic novel about a young girl named Wilhimina and the living shadows that surround her.

The Draw Off gathered a collective crowd of children, parents and adult fans and was moderated by Publisher’s Weekly’s Calvin Reid. There ended up being seven rounds, with the final round being called a Switcheroo. The first round had the artists all doing a different drawing, the next five rounds they all did their version of the same idea. The concepts came from the kids in the audience and I must say, these kids were both strange and a little morbid.

Following is a description of the drawings done and photos of the finished works.


Monkey drinking coffee on the subway by Raina Tegelmeier

Elastic Man by Laura Lee Gulledge (basketball addition hers)

A Cat and Mouse by Dave Roman (he totally twisted this)

Mutant Dog eating a rabbit

Laura Lee Gulledge

Dave Roman

Raina Tegelmeier

Alien on Mars eating bagels

Dave Roman

Raina Tegelmeier

Laura Lee Gulledge

Wizard on vacation at the beach

Laura Lee Gulledge

Dave Roman

Raina Tegelmeier

Giant powdered donuts being pelted by sprinkles

Laura Lee Gulledge

Dave Roman

Raina Tegelmeier

Cucumber jumping into lasagna

Raina Tegelmeier

Laura Lee Gulledge

Dave Roman

The Final round was called SWITCHEROO.  In one minute intervals for three minutes they would create three Jam drawings based on the same themes.  After much suggestions from the audiences and deliberation, the three things were Dragon, Hippo, Catwalk.

Here are the three pieces created by Dave, Laura and Raina together with some Photoshopping (like some other pieces in this article) from yours truly.

Authors I Enjoy, and if there was more than one of me

I thought I’d take a better look at the schedule for Brooklyn Book Festival 2011 taking place Sunday, May 18th at Columbus Park in Brooklyn, New York. I will be focusing on the non comics selections this time. So please keep the previous post in mind if you head to this wonderful event.

LAWRENCE BLOCK and SUSAN ISAACS, two highly entertaining writers in the crime drama genre are part of a moderated panel at 5 PM in The Borough Hall Courtroom. While my familiarity with them is not as heavy as it should be, as I aware that their books are the kind of work I tend to truly enjoy. It amazes me that only one film has ever come from Block’s works as well, as I see the few Matthew Scudder books I’ve read to be perfect for film. Issac’s though has a little bit of film work, which she actually wrote but again not since the 90’s. This is no indication of the quality of their work, as both are best selling and highly respected writers and in the current trend of Crime Fiction, their views are invaluable.

DJ SPOOKY, whom I only know as a musician, seems to have written a few books and will joining a photographer for a speak on the environment and sustainable change on the Main Stage at 2 PM.

PETE HAMILL, one of the greatest journalists ever and with a slew of fictional works becoming one of the best traditional fiction writers will part of a talk at 3 PM on the Main Stage.

JULES FEIFFER, a living legend cartoonist will be joined by Norton Juster to talk the 5oth Anniversary of THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH at 12 PM in The St. Francis Auditorium.

At 1 in The St. Francis Auditorium two of the greatest living writers of all time in my opinion shall be reading. JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER and the truly compelling and captivating JOYCE CAROL OATES will be presenting and speaking.

The 12 o’clock session in the St. Francis Reading Room features three quality writers on subjects that are of high interest to me, so I shall just copy&paste the official description here:
Crashing Genres. Join authors whose work defies classification: crashing the genre borders of science fiction/ fantasy and the supernatural. CORY DOCTOROW (For The Win, Little Brother), KELLY LINK, author of cult favorite stories in Pretty Monsters and Magic for Beginners, and best-selling author JEWELL PARKER RHODES, winner of the American Book Award, uses magical realism to examine race and memory in her New Orleans vampire trilogy Seasons,Moon, and Hurricane. Moderated by Stephanie Anderson.

Controversial and very popular Critics J. HOBERMAN (The Village Voice) and JASON ZINOMAN (NY Times) will be joined by Foreign Film Expert and a professor at the United Nations, ROBERTA SERET in a discussion on film moderated by film historian and critic ED HALTER at 5 PM in the St. Francis Screening Room.

EOIN COLFER and WALTER MOSELY talk crime drama with Los Angeles Times book critic DAVID L. ULIN 3 PM at ST. ANN AND THE HOLY TRINITY CHURCH.

Right after that at 4 PM same location, actor, playwright and essayist WALLACE SHAWN will joined on stage by partner and fellow actor and essayist DEBORAH EISENBERG and colleague FRAN LIEBOWITZ in a discussion modern by the executive director of the National Book Association HAROLD AUGENBRAUM.

At 2 PM on the North Stage is a very exciting presentation based upon the television program JEOPARDY it features two big winners JUSTIN BERNBACH and celebrated author ARTHUR PHILLIPS and journalist and former Businessweek Editor STEPHEN BAKER who wrote a book abiout the development of IBM’s Jeopardy computer Watson. Moderated by SPIN Magazine’s Greg Milner.

I want to remind folks that there are planned signing schedules for many of these authors as well, so pay close close close attention to the free guidebook being handed out at Book Festival. It will be an invaluable device to have a full and fulfilling day!

The Continuing Insurgence of Sequential Storytelling As Accepted Media



I am currently considering attending the Brooklyn Book Festival as media and barring that just another consumer.  As I look over the schedule of readings and panels I am excited and mesmerized by the amount of “comics” artists are involved in regular talks with “traditional” writers.  While it was apparent at this year’s Book Expo America that the graphic novel is becoming more and more accepted amongst the regular reader, it overjoys me to see that this fact is continuing at a consumer level with an event such as the festival.



While there are many panels dedicated simply to graphic novels and comics, which I will overview in a moment here, I am excited to see that Adrian Tomine will be on a panel about NY writers.    Also notable, Nick Bertozzi will be on a panel about re-imagining history with two award winning young adult authors.  Sarah Glidden will be on stage with Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg discussing Epic Adventures; while Casey and Steven’s book To Timbuktu has illustrations, it is not a graphic novel like Glidden’s How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less. Anders Nilson sits on a panel called Notes From The Underground with prose novelists Susan Choi and Jonathan Dee.  

Let me focus now on those comics panels, as well as a few ones that are of particular interest to me.  I expect overlap to exist, as is par for the course for conventions, expos and festivals.  In the case of description I shall be “borrowing” directly from the Festival page when needed.

Keep in mind the Brooklyn Book Festival is SEPTEMBER 18, 2011 in Downtown Brooklyn, New York City.

Starting at 11:00 P.M.
Borough Hall Plaza/Columbus Park

Comics Quick-Draw!: Three comic artists face off in this fast-paced contest. Drawing (literally!) from audience suggestions, NYT best-selling and ALA-notable book author/illustrator Raina Telgemeier (Smile), best-selling author/illustrator Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), and rising star author/illustrator Laura Lee Gulledge (Page by Paige) will battle with pen and pad.  And, everybody wins: finished art will be gifted to some of the lucky young people in attendance! Moderated by Calvin Reid, editor of Publishers Weekly Comics World.

at 1:00 P.M.
180 Remsen Street

Funny Ha-Ha-Comedy in Comics:
Join and laugh with four artists of comics that are surreal, political, and hilarious: Eisner-nominated and cult-favorite Michael Kupperman (Mark Twain’s Autobiography: 1910-2010); Harvey, Glyph, and Inkpot Award-winning Keith Knight (The Knight Life: Chivalry Ain’t Dead); web-comics phenomenon Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant); and newcomer Jennifer Hayden (Underwire). Moderated by Heidi MacDonald of The Beat and Publishers Weekly Comics World.

In the same building, but in the ST. FRANCIS AUDITORIUM and a
Ticket Required Event at
3:00 P.M.

Comics Writ Large and Small: Three of the most exciting artists working in the comics medium today—who work on canvases both epic and poetic—will discuss their craft and the artistry of long and short form graphic stories. Harvey, Ignatz, and Eisner-award winner Craig Thompson’s much-anticipated Habibi is a 672-page quest of spiritualism and love. Ignatz winner Anders Nilsen’s 658-page Big Questions weaves together surreal tales the artist released as shorter works over many years, and Harvey award-winner Adrian Tomine’s Optic Nerve series, with #12 newly released, typifies the concision of his storytelling—also loved by many in New Yorker covers and strips that offer a thousand words in a few quiet frames.  Moderated by Meg Lemke.

Back in the Screening Room at
4:00 P.M.

Drawing a Life: How do you draw someone else’s memories? Eisner-nominated Dean Haspiel (Cuba: My Revolution) illustrated the memoir of revolutionary turned refugee Inverna Lockpez.  Pulitzer nominee Lauren Redniss (Radioactive: A Tale of Love and Fallout) blends research and imagination in a haunting portrait of Marie Curie and rising star artist GB Tran (Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey) turns to his own family’s history to portray a war-torn, transnational generation. Moderated by Hillary Chute, author of Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics.


My one major conflict is at 3:00 P.M.


Brooklyn Book Festival Presents – Gumshoes: Award winning authors Eoin Colfer (Plugged) and Walter Mosley (When the Thrill Is Gone).   Moderated by David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times.

I missed the opportunity to meet Eoin at Book Expo America as the line was incredibly long and I’d of missed three other opportunities that were happening during the time I was on that line.  So unfortunately I left the line and then of course read PLUGGED which quickly became one my favorite books of 2011.   Sitting with the legendary Walter Mosely they should have a spirited conversation.

Other Panels of interest/note from PCS’ perspective:

2:00 P.M.
128 Pierrepont Street
Politics and Poetry: Poets Timothy Donnelly (The Cloud Corporation), Nick Flynn (The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands), Thomas Sayers Ellis (Skin, Inc: Identity Repair Poems) and Evie Shockley (The New Black) explore poetry’s capacity for social change role and the role of poetry in public life. Moderated by Camille Rankine of Cave Canem Foundation.

5:00 P.M.
180 Remsen Street

Moving Pictures. From B Movies to the Art House, film is possibly the most powerful broadcast medium of the past century—taking us on flights of fancy as often as it brings us face-to-face with the more unpleasant nature of the contemporary world. J. Hoberman (Army of Phantoms), Jason Zinoman (Shock Value), and Roberta Seret (World Affairs in Foreign Films) discuss the role of movies in understanding our world and ourselves. Moderated by film critic and Light Industry founder, Ed Halter.

Of course on top of panels there is the Festival itself which has signings, previews, and booths galore. The outdoor setting of Columbus Park/Borough Hall makes for a truly entertaining event. While I have not been capable to go every year, I always desire to, knowing it is truly one of the best events New York has for readers and book lovers.