Children's Graphic Novel Panel @ Wondercon

Okay, so this panel happened about 2 weeks ago... but there's been so much exciting stuff happening at Books Inc for kids that I haven't had time to write it up until now! The panelists at this discussion included upcoming Oh My Gosh, Stories! guest Lisa Brown, American Born Chinese author Gene Yang, The Walking Dead and upcoming Super Dinosaur author Robert Kirkman, Newbery Honor medalist Jennifer Holm, and illustrator Lark Pien. The panelists led a warm discussion about the future of publishing and the growing need for children's graphic novels. Because kids are so adept at pairing graphics with text, graphic novels provide a great stepping stone for emerging readers. "The line between comic books and picture books is very thin, as thin as a speech bubble," said Lisa Brown. As Jennifer Holm put it: "It's their [kids] job to read everyday. We can help them get promoted." Though authors Lark Pien, Jennifer Holm and Robert Kikman write deliberately for children, Lisa Brown and Gene Yang agreed that they don't write for an audience-- the fact that their books are marketed for kids and young adults is just a matter of happenstance. "You have to make [comics] accessible for adults, and subversive for kids," said Lisa Brown, in response to the question of age appropriate graphic novels for kids who are attracted to the superhero content of Marvel and DC. There was an agreement that there needs to be more graphic novel content for elementary school aged kids, and that often the superhero stuff isn't the way to go. Perhaps in response to the generalization that comics are for kids, graphic novel publishers have published superhero content that is SO adult (violent, sexual and disturbing) that they're losing the child audience they historically reached. When asked to recommend in print titles for newbies to the graphic novel genre, Kirkman offered BONE, Brown suggested SKIM, Yang recommended MEANWHILE (by upcoming Books Inc. Alameda guest, Jason Shiga) and both Park and Yang agreed on HEREVILLE ("myth on paper," said Yang).