Activities, Books, Library, People

ALA 2015, Day 1: My Happy Place

Today felt epic. 

Not only because it started out with this news, but because I got to spend it with the best people on earth: librarians!

I began by watching a panel of comics creators speak on Diversity in Comics put on by GraphiCon and weneeddiversebooks.  The main theme I got out of it is that the tides are turning. The creators, the market, librarians, etc., are pushing for change in the publishing industry and it’s happening exponentially. Corporate gatekeepers are opening up the doors to new voices and progressive themes. There are so many more books out now with strong female protagonists (some even with breasts proportionate to the rest of their bodies), characters of color, and of different sexual orientations and abilities. The panelists expressed the hope this isn’t a fad, but a reflection of true change and recognition of the need for people to see themselves reflected in the books they read.


From there, I went to the opening of the Exhibit Hall. Librarians swarmed to get free swag – posters, pins, bookmarks, tote bags, even Its-Its! But best of all books! Some advanced reader copies of books not even available yet, and some hardcover new releases, free for us librarians so we can read ’em and spread the word. Oh, the joys of this job! 

(My swag!)

Some authors were even there signing. I got to meet the lovely Thanhha Lai (of Inside Out and Back Again) and have her sign a copy of her new book Listen, Slowly. 

(Terrible picture. I was too excited to hold still.)

I ended the night at the Michael L. Printz Award reception. What a fantastic bunch of authors and books were honored this year. Getting to hear winner Jandy Nelson (for I’ll Give You The Sun) give her speech was inspirational. What a gift for words this woman has. She thanked us librarians and called us lightkeepers, the ones who hand out the light, the ones who work tirelessly to get the right books in the right hands at the right time. “We are rewriting the world, people.”

Yes, today it truly feels like we are.


APE 2008

I only had a few hours this year to check out the Alternative Press Expo and it was sensory overload as usual. There were hundreds of booths I could have spent days poring over, but whizzing through there were some definite highlights for me. Briana Miller, a local Bay Area cartoonist, had a beautiful series of aviation inspired postcards, delicate watercolors of handmade clothes, and a poignant comic titled Simple that I had to have. Swallow Me Whole, a graphic novel by artist Nate Powell published by Top Shelf, caught my eye.  Just from flipping through the pages, I can tell he’s created a dark, emotionally complex world for the main character Ruth to navigate, and I can’t wait to dig into it.

Chris Ware was also there and gave a talk. He showed his latest animation for This American Life, and responded to audience questions, discussing everything from how he chooses colors to what it was like to work with Ira Glass. His process is to start with a basic script and plot line for a story, then to go straight to it without preliminary sketches, working on Bristol Board from the top left down. He says just like having a plan in life, it never really works out the way you thought it would, and you have to be open to changes and “happy accidents”.  He says you have to learn to “trust in yourself and how your mind is organized to show you the way.”  His intentions with his work, which is sometimes accused of being depressing and dreary, is “not to pound hopelessness and self-doubt into the readers, but in fact, the opposite.” The structure and beauty of his drawings are meant to show there is meaning and purpose in life even if the character can’t always see it. The colors he picks are to him “a naturalistic view of what the world looks like to a child squinting, and the black line is all that we’ve been taught superimposed upon our initial impressions.” Lately he’s been keeping a sketchbook journal of his daughter’s life and that’s keeping him very busy.