Rivkah LaFille

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Rivkah LaFille (pronounced “lah-fee”) is a children’s illustrator, writer, designer and graphic novelist living in Austin, TX. Her graphic novel series, Steady Beat, was nominated to the American Library Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens list. She was nominated as a Lulu of the Year by Friends of Lulu for her work in promoting women in comics, and she won the Austin SCBWI Portfolio Showcase Award, presided over by Caldecott winner and New York Times bestselling author, Dan Santat.

In the early 2000s, she was the publisher and art director of a small literary publishing house, Rabid Press. Her “eureka!” moment happened when one day she woke up and realized she was going to make comics for the rest of her life instead. She did. She does. And she hasn’t looked back since.

Currently, she is illustrating a graphic novel with First Second, another with Candlewick, teaching comics-making classes, and making magic!

What was your favorite book as a child?

Miss Rumphius is STILL one of my favorites. It’s all about leaving the world a better place than we found it, which is basically my life motto.

What do you love to do for fun?

Gardening is my Happy Place. There is something so satisfying in taking care of a plant from seed, watering it, tending it, and watching it turn into a fruit or vegetable that you can eat. But watching the cycles of nature reminds me of the cycles within my own life: that even as the world grows and blooms and dies, new life is born out of it once again.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT RIVKAH

Art Process:

My art process is a balance between logical problem-solving and creative intuition. I begin by thinking about the project as a whole: what is the tone, the technique, the style that would best suit this project? What is its age range? What’s the timeline? Every project has different demands, and before I start drawing, I think of what those demands are and how to answer them.

The rest, however, is largely a matter of doing and refining. Whether I’m creating fast and loose storyboards or finely detailed picture books, working in digital or analog mediums, the end result is an editorial style that refines itself with every step until it becomes exactly what the project needs: something that speaks loudly and clearly to my audience!

Published books:

STEADY BEAT v1 – Tokyopop – 2005 (YA LGBTQ+ graphic novel)
STEADY BEAT v2 – Tokyopop – 2007 (YA LGBTQ+ graphic novel)
MANGAKA AMERICA – HarperCollins – 2007 (tutorial book)
CREATIVE WRITING WITH MISS MARY MAC – First Second – date TBD (nonfiction graphic novel)

Location:

Visit Rivkah at:

Available for School Visits:

I love talking to (and with) students! My talks range from discussing my comics-making process to more inspirational-type discussions about finding your path in life and how to not be afraid of making mistakes…and to learn and grown from them! I specialize in talking to teens and tweens, but also adults wanting to make graphic novels for ages babies to teens.

Awards and honors:

Nominated to the YALSA GREAT GRAPHIC NOVELS for TEENS List in 2007
Friends of Lulu Award 2007 – Nominee
Winner of the 2019 SCBWI Portfolio Showcase Award (and runner up previous two years) presided over by Caldecott Winner Dan Santat


Joe Latham

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Joe Latham is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Bristol, UK. He cut his teeth creating custom MySpace Pages (RIP) for bands, which lead to a lot of interesting projects. From designing bespoke Golf Balls for celebrities to animating music videos for Cradle of Filth, Joe has done design work for Jilly Cooper, The Joy Formidable, Five Seconds of Summer, Uniform Dating, Ok Cupid, IndieGoGo, a number of UK Universities, Sony Music, and Warner Music, to name a few.

Joe has self-published a number of comic books and regularly exhibits at UK comic festivals. He’s planning to exhibit at other European and International festivals in the future. He loves meeting people and talking to them about his work.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Winnie the Pooh, or possibly The Giraffe, The Pelican and Me. It’s a tough call, because Roald Dahl was exciting in a way that other books have never been, but Winnie the Pooh has stayed with me forever. I used to take a collected version to my Mum’s piano lessons when I was a kid, and sit there next to a stinky gas fire with a tubby black-haired scotty dog. The dog would lay on its back getting a weird sunburn on its belly from the fire (and it would fart, all the time).

What cool travel spots would you most highly recommend?

Copenhagen, for its incredibly comfortable culture, amazing pastries (get a hot cinnamon swirl, your life will never be the same again), great coffee and beer, cool electric city bicycles, amazing museums and great food. 

I’d also recommend Berlin. It’s an amazing place, though it changes every year. It never sleeps. Seriously.

One of the happiest times of my life was driving up the West coast of the USA. We hired a car and drove from San Francisco up to Portland. It was the most free I’ve ever felt, and I hope to go back one day for longer adventures.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT JOE

Art Process:

I like my work to feel tangible and retain a sense of the energy you get from those early drawings, so I try to make sure the final pieces are refined enough, yet expressive. It means that each stage of the process is relatively quick in order to keep some of that feeling.

Typically I draw my thumbnail sketches with a Fountain Pen, then using a smaller paper size I will draw the final piece in rough using Blue Col-erase pencils (these are used a lot by animators – they don’t smudge yet aren’t too hard, so you can be nice and expressive). I then scan this, print it faintly on to smooth finish (hot press) Watercolour paper (it has a touch more tooth than Bristol board so I find it suits my inking style better – less smudges). Then I ink over this, mostly using a Kolinsky Sable no6 brush and a pot of ink, some fine liner work in there too. Scan it, colour it using Photoshop and an array of collected brushes that I’ve picked up down the years. I have a small handful that I return to most often.


Andi Watson

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I was born and raised in Kippax, a small town in Yorkshire, England. I spent half my life playing outdoors with my brother and friends and the other half reading, drawing and watching TV. Despite being in awe of the power of stories I was intent on being a car mechanic. Eventually I realised I had no interest in cars and even less talent for fixing things and went to art school in Liverpool. I rediscovered comics, made one of my own, graduated and continue to make more.

I’m still in awe of the power of stories and the satisfaction and challenge of telling my own through words and pictures. I live in Worcester with my wife and daughter.

What is your favorite food?

I like Brussel sprouts and broccoli but shiver in horror at courgettes. Brrrr….courgettes.

Specialties:

Published books:

  • Kerry and the Knight of the Forest (graphic novel)  Random House Graphic, 2020

And many others… click here for a complete bibliography.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ANDI

Location:

Mediums:

Art Process:

Everything starts with a pencil and paper, whether it’s noting down story ideas or thumbnailing images. I think with a pencil and problem solve on paper. No Moleskine notebooks for me, I use the back of old print outs and bills. Whatever’s to hand and I’m not precious about.

Once I have an idea I’m happy with I’ll move to pencil on paper. When I’m satisfied with the sketch I’ll use pen, brush, ink to complete the art. I try to balance a liveliness of line with control and clarity. Then I’ll scan it in and use Photoshop to tweak and colour.

Available for School Visits:

When I do school visits, I collaborate with the children to create an improvised comic story from their suggestions.

Visit Andi at:

Awards and honors:

Eisner, Best Graphic Album Reprint nomination 2000: Geisha

Eisner, Best Limited Series nomination 2001: Breakfast After Noon

Harvey, Best New Series nomination 2004: Love Fights

Eisner, Best Publication for Kids nomination 2009: Princess At Midnight

British Comics Awards, Young People’s Comic Awards nomination 2012. Gum Girl: Catastrophe Calling


Kaia Tseng

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Born in Syracuse, New York and raised in Cupertino, California, Kaia Tseng is a Taiwanese-American illustrator, designer, and entrepreneur. Kaia has been drawing ever since she learned how to pick up a crayon, and has always loved bringing ideas to life in the form of art. By age 15, she began selling her artwork and handicrafts at local conventions. She made her lifelong hobby into her profession at age 24, with the launch of her brand, Kaiami, with the goal of designing products that make people smile and brighten up their day.

Her artwork uses dreamy colors and brings a touch of the fantastical to ordinary moments. In addition to designing for her own brand, Kaia has also produced art for books, games, fashion brands, and galleries.

What is your favorite food?

Carrots have been my favorite food since I was a kid! I have eaten them to the point where my skin turned orange. I also generally like Asian noodle soups (Taiwanese beef noodle and tonkotsu ramen are among my favorites).

What do you love to do for fun?

I love to hold tea parties! I love to get dressed up and drink delicious tea and eat small desserts, but casual tea parties where I can get together and catch up with friends are great too. Aside from that, I’m also a big fan of birdwatching and reading comics.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT KAIA

Art Process:

I thumbnail my ideas in a sketchbook before starting, and usually the sketch will be done with pencil and paper before moving to the lining phase. I sometimes line using a lightbox on top of my sketches, or scan and line digitally. Nowadays, I do most coloring digitally, but I started out using traditional mediums so I am comfortable with markers and colored pencils as well.

Location:

Visit Kaia at:


Matt Loux

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Matthew Loux is the author and artist of the graphic novels The Time Museum Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (published by First Second Books), Sidescrollers and the five volume series Salt Water Taffy (originally published by Oni Press).

Matthew also illustrated the graphic novel F-Stop and the board comic Good Night Gabbaland based on the Nick Jr. television show Yo Gabba Gabba and has contributed comics and cover art for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Matthew lives in New York and is currently working on his first watercolor-painted graphic novel aimed at early middle grade readers, soon to be announced.

Favorite food:

Pepperoni pizza

Favorite travel spots:

Just about any place in Japan but particularly the Shinsekai neighborhood of Osaka and the Shimokitazawa and Nakameguro neighborhoods of Tokyo.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MATT

Art Process:

Matthew’s art process involves a foundation of hand pencils, which are then finished with line art using a Winsor & Newton brush and ink.

Colors are either done using Photoshop, resulting in a slightly more polished and modern illustration look, or hand-painted with watercolor for a more classic, vintage feel.

Published books:

The Time Museum Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (First Second Books)
Sidescrollers (Oni Press)
Salt Water Taffy Vol. 1-5 (Oni Press)
F-Stop (Oni Press)
Good Night Gabbaland (Oni Press)

Awards and honors:

Starred Kirkus review (The Time Museum)
Texas Library Association’s Maverick list, 2018 (The Time Museum)
Panda Book Award winner, 2018 (The Time Museum)
RI Children’s Book Award nomination (The Time Museum)
American Library Association’s YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens, 2008 (Sidescrollers)
Texas Library Association’s Maverick list, 2009 (Salt Water Taffy)

Location:

Visit Matt Loux at:

Available for School Visits:

Matthew’s main school presentation (aimed at middle grade readers) begins with a personal look at the influences throughout his younger life that led him to a career in comics. He discusses the steps it takes to actually create a graphic novel from idea to finished book. The presentation includes live drawing and a slideshow.

Matthew’s second presentation (accessible for all ages) begins with a shorter version of what brought him to making comics, then quickly focuses on live drawing and an interactive “create a character” game. In the end, the drawings will be left for the school to display or give to student participants.


Mike Sgier

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Mike Sgier is a cartoonist and printmaker based in Philadelphia. Born and raised outside of Denver, Mike received a BFA from Creighton University, and an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He has been making comics since 2006, exploring a wide range of genres in the medium, including autobio, indie romance, and humorous sci-fi. His current comics are based in the fantasy genre, following an array of characters in a world called Vespers.

Mike is an active member of BYO Print, a printmaking studio and collective in Philadelphia.

What was your favorite book as a child?

A tie between ‘James and the Giant Peach’ by Roald Dahl, and ‘The Mouse and the Motorcycle’ by Beverly Cleary.

Favorite travel spots:

Dublin, Ireland and Kyoto, Japan

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MIKE

Art Process:

My creative process starts by drawing quick, small thumbnails of the image, trying out different compositions, and determining which visual elements will be used. Based on these quick drawings, I’ll complete 3-4 small drawings (around 4.25” x 5.5”) with the basic elements in play, but still not too detailed. These drawings help to give an idea of where the image can go, but also help to determine if different routes are needed to achieve the result the client is seeking.

Once a drawing is approved by the client, I transfer it to a fresh sheet of paper where I finish it, most often with pen and ink. Then I scan and clean it up, adding digital techniques if necessary.

For relief printmaking, I transfer the drawing to a block of wood or linoleum, carve it, and pull prints from the block. This process may add more time, but it can also provide the image with a singular expressive element.

Location:

Visit Mike at:

Published books:

Once Upon a Time Machine Vol. 2: Greek Gods and Legends (Dark Horse Comics, 2018)
Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream
(Locust Moon Press, 2014)
Quarter Moon
(Locust Moon Press, 2013-2015)
Colonial Comics – New England, 1620-1750
(Fulcrum Publishing, 2014)
Rock Ink Roll
(Altered Esthetics, 2013)
Lutefisk Sushi
(International Cartoonist Conspiracy/Big Time Attic, 2008 & 2010)

Available for School Visits:

I have worked with all ages of students to show my creative process for both comics and printmaking, from college level to elementary school. I enjoy teaching kids how to create their own characters, gadgets, and environments as part of a game.


Misako Rocks!

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Misako Rocks! is a Japanese manga artist based in Brooklyn, NY. At age 19, she won a scholarship to come to American as an exchange student. Her first break came when The Onion decided to use her illustrations for their “Savage Love” column.

Since then, she has published seven books in both the United States and Japan, and teaches manga students privately and at several schools throughout New York City.

What do you love to do for fun?

Kickboxing! Everyday!

Why did you leave Japan to America?

When I was a kid, I watched a movie Back to the Future and got a huge crush on Michael J Fox. I wanted to be his girlfriend. That’s the main reason why I moved to America. Hahaha!

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT MISAKO

Art Process:

If I’m working on comic books, I like to start with a finished manuscript first. It’s easier for me to work this way. My thumbnails look like a bunch of eggs are talking. Once I complete the entire thumbnails, then I can move to the “pencil” process. I normally use awesome manga paper from Japan. I start drawing carefully on these papers. Meanwhile, I draw backgrounds like cities or streets separately. Then I move to the “inking” process. I use Japanese calligraphy brush pens and Copic ink pens to trace the pencil lines. Once it’s done, I scan every page to color them with Photoshop. That’s my favorite part!

Forthcoming books:

Bounce Back, Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, Fall 2021

Published books:

Biker Girl, Hyperion 2006
Rock and Roll Love, Hyperion 2007
Detective Jermain, Henry Holt 2009
How to Find a Gaijin Boyfriend Discover 21, Japan, 2014
New York Life Style: How to make your life fun and exciting Discover 21, Japan, 2015
How to speak English with Misako’s method, Ascom Publisher, Japan, 2015

Location:

Visit Misako at:

Awards and honors:

NYPL Best Teens Book List, 2007
Selected as one of 5 Japanese artists to meet Japanese Prime Minister Abe, 2015

Available for School Visits:

I’ve been teaching manga at so many schools! I offer a Manga Drawing Workshop for all ages, where I teach students how to create their own manga characters step by step. I also offer a motivational talk aimed at middle and high school student called “How Misako became a manga artist in America!” I use a slideshow with photos of Japan and comic books to talk about why and how I left Japan and became a manga artist in America.


Debbie Fong

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Debbie Fong is an illustrator, designer, and cartoonist from Brooklyn, NY, and currently the (sole) artist behind POMMO Press, where she turns her best doodles into fun products like enamel pins and embroidered patches. After attending her first indie comics festival in 2015, she fell in love with the world of small press comics and has been drawing and printing her own books ever since, exhibiting regularly at comic festivals around the country.

As an illustrator, she enjoys both commercial work as well as longer narrative projects. Past clients include Time Inc. Books, The Strand, and CreativeFeed. Her latest illustrated children’s book is titled How To Be a Person, written by Catherine Newman and published by Storey Publishing (May 2020).

Favorite food:

Noodles! 🙂 I love all types of noodles from Italian pastas to Asian egg noodles, rice noodles, and even noodles made from beans! Growing up as a Taiwanese-American kid in Northern New Jersey, I think I got to eat the best of both worlds – noodle soups with vermicelli and fried shallots at home, and spaghetti and meatballs whenever we went out.

Favorite travel spots:

One of my new favorite things is to go on road trips! In 2018 my partner and I took our first cross-country road trip from New York to California with our dog and it was an unforgettable trip. Since then we’ve done a bunch of smaller road trips, but I can’t wait until our next big trip to the West Coast!

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DEBBIE

Mediums:

Specialties:

Location:

Forthcoming books:

How To Be a Person, Storey Publishing (May 2020)

Awards and honors:

Ignatz Award nomination, 2018
Broken Frontier Award, 2018

Art Process:

My illustration work is 95% digital, which means there is a lot of fluidity to my workflow that I find helpful when working with clients or other artists on a project. For example, changes to “inked” lineart are not too difficult to make at any stage, and when requested, I can deliver Photoshop files formatted so individual colors can be easily changed. In terms of my approach to a new assignment, I find that establishing clear communication from the beginning can really help to get everyone on the same page, so I always try to be as thorough and communicative as possible!

Visit Debbie Fong at:

Available for School Visits:

Not at the moment!