Ed Masessa

Non-fiction

Born in nineteen something, I am the second oldest of 10 children. I was raised in the small town of Middlesex, NJ and attended Rutgers University. As anyone who has met me can attest to, I live by the mantra “Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.” Formerly employed as a grease monkey, office cleaner, fast food manager, forklift operator, warehouse supervisor, sales rep, and automotive purchasing manager, I retired from Scholastic Book Fairs in 2016 where I was responsible for selecting many of the books that appeared on the fairs. While on the surface, it appears that I was unqualified for such a critical role, I earned my stripes through hard work and LOTS of reading – and I mean LOTS!

Twenty or so years ago, I turned to the wonderful memories of my childhood and began to write. My second book, The Wandmaker’s Guidebook, had a nine-week run on the NY Times Bestseller list, two weeks at #1!  Now a full-time writer, I remain active in the Kidlit community by participating in library, reading, and writing conferences throughout the year, and by visiting schools to share my writing techniques with students. And I am an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard

Who are your favorite children’s authors?

Jack Gantos, Neal Shusterman, and Jennifer Holm

Available for School Visits:

I love doing school visits! I can do up to three presentations in the same day that include grades 1-2 for picture books and early readers and grades 3-6 for my writing process and novels. Presentations can be customized from 20-45 minutes and only a laptop with a projector is needed (plus a microphone for large audiences). Fees are highly flexible.

Location:

Visit Ed at:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ED

Specialties:

Creative Process:

I need to write outdoors. There’s something about sitting in a park, or near a lake, or by the gently rolling waves of the Florida surf that allows my mind to wander and opens it to unconstrained thoughts. This is especially helpful since I am an extreme pantser – that is, I write by the seat of my pants. I find it impossible to create an outline other than a general synopsis of the beginning, middle, and end of a book. I am constantly amazed at what has taken shape on the page at the end of my writing block of time. I love when I can look at my words and say, ‘Wow! I never saw THAT coming!’

I also hand-write everything and every project has its own notebook. My first pass at revision is when I sit down to type what I’ve written into a word doc.

Awards and honors:

The Wandmaker’s Guidebook:
#1 NY Times bestseller for four weeks
ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults

Wandmaker:
Parent’s Choice Award for “Fun Stuff”

Wandmaker’s Apprentice:
Florida Book Awards gold medal in the middle grade category

Scarecrow Magic:
starred review from PW

Published books:

Backpack Kitty Goes to Camp (early reader)
Travel-size Pups Around the World (early reader)
Mixed-up Pups (early reader)
Real Life Monsters (non-fiction)
Wandmaker’s Guidebook (novelty)
Wandmaker (novel)
Wandmaker’s Apprentice (novel)
Time Traveler’s Journal (novelty)
Scarecrow Magic (picture book)
Pumpkin Magic (picture book)
There Was an Old Dog Who Needed a Nap (forthcoming picture book)
Snowman’s Big Adventure (forthcoming picture book)


Ash Szymanik

Non-fiction

Hi, I’m Ash! I’m a queer Los Angeles based artist who makes all sorts of neat stuff. I have a BFA in Traditional Animation from Pratt Institute, and work as a designer, illustrator, and comics artist/writer.

My art is defined by animal characters, moody colors, and a bit of dark humor. I’m drawn to slice-of-life stories with LGBTQ+ themes and am committed to making art about both the struggles and joys of LGBTQ+ youth.

What is your favorite food?

Anything that is a pasta or a dumpling. Just as long as it doesn’t have mushrooms in it.

What do you love to do for fun?

I love collecting manga/comics, watching movies, discovering little-known indie video games, and cooking.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ASH

Art Process:

I’m a digital artist who does most of their work in Procreate! However, I have a little journal/sketchbook where I scribble down my ideas and doodles of concepts. If I’m experiencing art block, I like to skim through it and mine for ideas!

When I illustrate, I tend to make a very rough sketch to map out the drawing, and once the sketch is legible enough for me, I start inking. I try not to be too perfectionist when doing the lineart, especially since I love a bit of a wobbly line and texture. Then I start coloring. I love picking colors and settling on a palette. After editing, I’m all done!


Andi Watson

Non-fiction

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


Elizabeth Jancewicz

Non-fiction

Elizabeth grew up in remote northern Quebec where she developed her love of natural landscapes and wild animals, which greatly influence her paintings.

She spends much of her time touring the country with her husband Eric in their band Pocket Vinyl, where she creates large fantastical oil paintings on stage while Eric sings and plays music. In 2019 they beat the world record for playing shows in all 50 states in the fastest time (45 days).

Elizabeth also writes & illustrates a twice-weekly autobiographical webcomic called The Touring Test, which focuses on the characters of Elizabeth & Eric, their two cats, and their experiences of being in a small touring band on the road.

Artist and graphic novelist Elizabeth Jancewicz headshot

Who or what inspires you the most, and why?

I love being around creativity. My walls are filled with other artists’ work, my shelves are full of graphic novels, and I love spending my time in DIY art spaces and seeing how other people interpret and express their individual creativity. I feel very fortunate to live and work with a creative person, whose artistic medium is so vastly different than mine.

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ELIZABETH

Mediums:

Art Process:

I describe myself as purely a traditional artist. I’ll “clean up” pieces in Photoshop (brightening colours, or adding shading to my inked comics), but besides that I do not work digitally.

My comics are all penciled onto bristol paper, then inked in pen and marker.

My oil paintings are typically done on gessoed masonite board.

I like to work fairly quickly so that I can’t overthink an idea. I may then step away and let it sit for a while before either changing things up or deciding it’s finished.


Black Sands Entertainment

Non-fiction

Black Sands Entertainment is a production studio established in 2016 to develop comics and animated series aimed at African-American families. Their successful series The Seven Kingdoms, Sons of Nibiru, Cosmic Girls, and Mori’s Family Adventures have sold over 25,000 copies direct to consumers and generated $500K in revenue in less than 3 years.

Published books:

Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #1, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #2, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #3, Black Sands Entertainment
Sons of Nibiru, Black Sands Entertainment
Mori’s Family Advantures – South Africa, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands Ultimate Edition, Black Sands Entertainment
Mori’s Family Adventures – Rio, Black Sands Entertainment
Brazilian Culture Exchange, Black Sands Entertainment
World Traveling Coloring Book, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #4, Black Sands Entertainment
Cosmic Girls, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the Seven Kingdoms #5, Black Sands Entertainment
Black Sands, the First Pharaoh, Black Sands Entertainment

Location:

Visit Black Sands Entertainment at:

Available for School Visits:

Yes.


Shannon Slaughter

Non-fiction

Shannon Slaughter’s artist’s name is Jazine (JazineDraws). She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. At the time of graduating, she specialized in oil paintings, but she later transitioned to digital mediums, where she is self-taught. Her style is inspired by fantasy, portraiture, semi-realism, and Japanese pop culture.

She currently works as an elementary school special education teacher.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman. I loved the dog’s hat and I wanted to make one of my own as a kid, but I never did.  Maybe it is not too late though?

What is your favorite food?

I love mashed potatoes. I know they are not the healthiest thing to eat, but if it is offered to me, I won’t turn it down. My mom told me that one day I will turn into a potato.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT SHANNON

Art Process:

For illustrations, I begin with several pencil sketches in my sketchbook or on Bristol paper. I may use Copic markers for shading. I will then scan the chosen sketch into the computer and open it in Clipstudio Paint.

I first create a grayscale draft that includes shadows and highlights. I choose a combination of digital watercolor and digital oil paint as my mediums. Once I am satisfied with the grayscale draft, I will use a combination of gradient maps, tweaking of layer attributes and overlaying layers of color at a low opacity to add color to my painting. Throughout the process, I am thinking of which colors can best convey the feeling I want for the final picture. I use the graphics editor Krita to assist in any additional color corrections.


Damon Lehrer

Non-fiction

Born in Boston in 1967, Damon Lehrer attended Amherst College and apprenticed to sculptor Philip Grausman in Connecticut. He traveled in Eastern Europe and lived in London during the 90s, then taught art at schools including the Rhode Island School of Design, Boston University, and Lesley University. In 2010 he started the Boston Figurative Art Center. His first children’s wordless picture book, Rocket Boy, was published by David R. Godine in 2017. He lives with his wife and son in Lexington, MA.

What was your favorite book as a child?

It depends which age… In the Night Kitchen and The Phantom Tollbooth, certainly. And Susan Cooper’s books!

What do you love to do for fun?

Play soccer with my 12-year-old son!

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DAMON

Art Process:

For a book project, I sit at my drawing table and visualize what I need to express. If things go well, I collect a few ideas that I jot down and use as the basis for pencil sketches. I often photograph these basic sketches and import them to Photoshop, where I can play with their tonal parameters and get new ideas. I might play with color at this stage, too. When I feel good about a small drawing, I make a larger drawing on Canson 14×17 drawing paper. I’ll import these into Photoshop and play with them in the same way, and if possible do finishing work and small adjustments.

I find the alternation between drawing with paper and pencil and working digitally really enjoyable. It helps me separate from the drawing and see it in a new way. It also makes me feel very free to take risks with color, image order, and pencil drawing.

Published books:

Rocket Boy, David Godine, 2017

Location:

Visit Damon at:

Awards and honors:

Massachusetts Cultural Council Award in Painting, 2000

Available for School Visits:

I do free-form author visits where I place enlarged posters of pages from my book  at the front of the room. I ask the kids about themselves to loosen them up (what they do, what they like, what they think of the illustrations, etc.) until they start asking me questions. We have fun and I enjoy it.


Kaia Tseng

Non-fiction

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:


Dave McDonald

Non-fiction

Dave McDonald has worked as a television producer/director, a theme park entertainment show writer (Scooby Doo) and a puppet/costume (Rugrats, Angry Beavers, Richard Scarry) and mascot (NFL Panthers, NBA Hornets) designer and fabricator. He was a puppeteer for a kids TV series and for a touring school production.  He’s the author/illustrator of two humorous early reader graphic novels featuring his original character, Hamster Sam.

When he’s not freelance writing or illustrating, McDonald works as a visiting teaching artist in elementary schools throughout North and South Carolina. His teaching can be found online through the educational platform EPIC! as well as Professor Garfield and on Youtube.

Favorite food:

Steak, medium; with a local craft IPA.

Who were some of your influences growing up?

Silly, slapstick humor is at the heart of what I enjoy most, and so I consumed ample doses of comedy from television cartoons created by Jay Ward (Rocky & Bullwinkle, Super Chicken), Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones (Bugs Bunny), Jim Henson’s Muppet Show and from record albums featuring musical satire and parody by Stan Freberg and Spike Jones.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT DAVE

Art Process:

The bulk of my work is black and white “comic strip” style illustration and spot art.  I work ‘old school’ using pencil, paper and ink pens. For contracted illustration work, I begin with pencil roughs; typically will send a pic or jpg to the client, and we’ll go back and forth until a “final rough” is approved.  I then ink the work and send along for approval. If color is desired, I’ll use Photoshop for a flat fill (I am not a colorist). Occasionally for puppet designs that include color costuming details, I’ll use Prismacolor markers to create a textured look.

Published books:

The Secret Adventures of Hamster SAM: Attack of the Evil Boll Weevils! (DM Creative) 2008
Hamster S.A.M.  Odd-ventures in Space! (DM Creative) 2013

Awards and honors:

Cartoonist in Residence at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA, 2011
Graphic novels panelist at the NYC School Librarians Conference, 2013
Featured guest author/illustrator and presenter at the South Carolina Book Festival, 2014

Location:

Visit Dave at:

Available for School Visits:

For over 10 years, “Mr. Dave” has presented education-based arts programming to schools, libraries and museums through his “Kids Make Comics!” assemblies, artist in residencies and workshops.  His programs have been accredited by several state and local arts agencies in North and South Carolina, where he works with hundreds of kids each year through grant-funded visits. His programs combine the best of a traditional author visit with dynamic interactive drawing and writing exercises.  School assemblies are 45 minutes long; students draw along step by step with Mr. Dave to create exciting and original characters, and discover that writing can be just as much fun as drawing!


Jenny Fine

Non-fiction

Jenny Fine is a Brooklyn-based illustrator and designer. She got her start in Los Angeles doing posters and merchandise for comedians. Her work can be seen on television (Room 104, I <3 You America, Children’s Hospital), on the web (Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Dreamworks TV), and in editorial (Vice).

Before moving to New York, she spent 3 years as a Digital Designer, first at Warner Brothers and then at the CW Network. She enjoys salsa dancing, karaoke, history podcasts, and creating comics about her quirky interactions.

Favorite food:

Chèvre with sweet potato, chèvre with honey crisp apple, or chèvre with cherry tomatoes and avocado and taco seasoning on top.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The books I favored most were the ones where I could pore over each little detail, like “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” and “The Littles” especially, with the detailed cross sections of the characters homes that were built into unconventional places with improvised furniture. I also loved books that I could experience viscerally. I don’t remember the title, but one I read all the time was about a man who needed to make his ration of cheese last while traveling a long distance. I would slowly nibble a piece of cheese while reading, finishing it at the end along with the protagonist.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT JENNY

Mediums:

Specialties:

Art Process:

I do “pencil push-ups” every day before I start on an assignment. I get to draw anything I want, but I stay within the medium and subject matter. This usually involves an ipad because most of my jobs are digital.

When I start a new project I stir up inspiration by searching through thrift store fashion Instagram accounts – they rarely have uniformity with regards to “traditional” beauty standards; and they have really fun color themes and locations.

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

Location:

Visit Jenny at:

Published books:

Not announced yet.

Awards and honors:

Member of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS)

Available for School Visits:

Yes.