Learn Manga With Misako

Learn Manga With Misako

I recently caught up with Misako Rocks! to chat about her newest release, How to Draw Kawaii Manga Characters, which came out from Quarto Kids in April 2024.

Misako has been teaching kids to draw manga and anime for at least ten years. During the pandemic, she started Learn Manga with Misako, her online school to teach manga drawing to elementary school students.

learn manga with misako online classes for kids

I was curious to find out why she's just as passionate about teaching kids as she is about writing and drawing her own stories. As it turns out, she had a lot of interesting things to say about that!

From the perspective of your students, why do you think they're interested in learning how to draw manga with you?

[MISAKO] They already had an interest in drawing manga, but also, the thing is, they like drawing manga with me. I have realized that it’s like we are creating “Misako time” together. It's kind of like art therapy.

That's a really interesting point.

The kids need some kind of place where they can feel safe, they can laugh at stupid stuff, they can release frustration and of course create fun art. I think it really helps them to feel positive and even make mistakes. I just make them draw, I don't let them think so much, and that kind of helps them break away from their perfectionist habits. So yeah, I think that's why.

child learning manga drawing with misako rocks

Wow, that's really cool to hear. But is it possible for you to capture that experience that the kids have with you in real time in your books? How do you do that?

So yeah, the books are just paper, not a direct interactive experience with me. But if they want to listen to my story, they can just scan the QR codes in the books and go to YouTube. When I'm teaching, I'm talking a lot. So in a way, yeah, they feel like they can take my lesson live with me.

I love that.

I feel like I can be their “aunt from another family.” So they can feel relaxed and just talk to me about everything. Sometimes when I ask just one question, like, “What did you do after you finished lunch at school today?” twenty of them start talking right away.

You must be doing something right, because so many parents complain that when they say to their kids, “How was your day at school?,” the kids say, “Fine.” And nothing else. [laughing]

Maybe part of what makes you a popular teacher is that you just listen to them without judgment.

Yes. Yes, without judgment. Sometimes I have extra sessions, besides lessons, and I ask them more questions to help me with writing the Bounce Back books. For instance, I might say to them, “Hey, if you have a fight with your friend, how do you make up with each other afterwards?” That kind of stuff.

And they tell me really detailed stories. Maybe ten kids are there, trying to help me understand their lives. But the good thing is that I feel like they end up helping each other as much as me.

They help each other feel better about themselves by sharing their experiences. It’s so great to see this happening because they all live in completely different states, some of them live in different countries like Canada. But they are trying to give advice to each other. It’s such a good feeling. So that’s why I want to keep doing this.

Yay! I hope you keep teaching kids, too. 

Check Out Misako's New Book!

How to Draw Kawaii Manga Characters by Misako Rocks is available now! The next book, How to Draw Manga Fashion, releases in June 2024.

Learn Manga With Misako

Learn Manga With Misako

Learn Manga With Misako

You can find Misako at www.misakorocks.com and learnmangawithmisako.com. Connect with her on social media at www.instagram.com/misakorocks and




MY DAY WITH MOM by Rae Crawford

Rae Crawford's early reader My Day With Mom just came out from Holiday House this month! It's a real-life tribute to her mom.

(Handy reminder: Mother's Day is on May 12, 2024!)


Rae had this to say about the book:

"I conceived of My Day with Mom as a love letter to the days I would spend with my mom taking all the steps to prepare a meal for dinner. This was often an exercise in patience as we prepped all day: grocery shopping, farmers markets, and cooking.

But the story would highlight the success and relief when you get to enjoy that meal with the ones you love.

In fact, many scenes are pulled directly from things in my real life: people, places and memories. These experiences have fueled my artistic voice and shaped my life."

My Day With Mom Illustration by Rae Crawford

My Day With Mom Illustration by Rae Crawford

My Day With Mom Illustration by Rae Crawford

"You may think this book is more or less a sequel to My Day with Dad, but that's not exactly true. When I was pitching My Day with Dad, I started to notice the parallels between both the 'mom' story and the 'dad' story and thought they would make nice companion pieces, much like my parents in real life."

The My Day with series is for kids and parents alike to encourage bonding in your everyday lives. Take time to go to that park, visit the art fair, or listen to some jazz. These are the things we carry with us."

My Day With Mom Illustration by Rae Crawford

"I've been lucky to inherit my humor, my artistic skill, and my love of the humanities from my mother who is an incredible writer herself. I hope some of that love I have for her shines through in this book.

And even if not, I hope it encourages you to go out and have a day with your mom!"

Thanks, Rae! Will do. :)

Buy My Day With Mom here.

Connect with Rae on her website.

Connect with Rae on her Patreon.


Haru Spring by Joe Latham

HARU by Joe Latham

Joe Latham's gorgeous middle grade fantasy graphic novel Haru just came out from Andrews McMeel a few months ago:

Haru Spring by Joe Latham

In their review of Haru, Publishers Weekly said:

"Latham sets this dazzling work in a Tolkeinesque world, employing clever pen and ink drawings awash in luminous colors to deliver a cliffhanger ending that will have readers eagerly anticipating the next installment."

Below are some spreads that show what PW was talking about.


Haru Illustration by Joe Latham

Haru Illustration by Joe Latham

Haru Illustration by Joe Latham

Haru Illustration by Joe Latham

On his Substack, Joe explained why he creates comics like Haru:

"I started making comics out of my own impatience, many years ago. I did them for me, I shared them online and friends seemed to like them, so I did more, and realized it was a way to have a voice that felt like wearing a comfy jumper to me. It helped me to express and explore feelings and thoughts I couldn’t find the words for any other way. It’s always been for me, yet it’s connected me to people in ways I never expected."

Below are some process images that show how Joe builds his illustrations from pencils through inks, colors, and final art. He's an incredible artist (and available for freelance illustration work!).

Haru Ink Illustration by Joe Latham

Haru Color Illustration by Joe Latham

Haru Illustration by Joe Latham

Haru Ink Illustration by Joe Latham

Haru Illustration by Joe Latham

Haru Ink Illustration by Joe Latham

Haru Color Illustration by Joe Latham


Haru Sketch by Joe Latham


Haru Ink Illustration by Joe Latham

Haru Illustration by Joe Latham

Joe has several upcoming events to celebrate the release of Haru:

Buy Haru here.

Connect with Joe on his website.

Connect with Joe on his Substack.


Next Stop by Debbie Fong

Next Stop by Debbie Fong

Debbie Fong's new book, Next Stop, is now available!!

If you're looking for the next heart-tugging, hilarious, slow burn middle grade graphic novel to read, this is it.

It's racked up multiple starred reviews:

  • "Remarkable." – The Horn Book
  • "Poignant" and "profound." – Kirkus Reviews
  • "Weird and wonderful." – The Bulletin of Children's Books
  •  "Gut-wrenching" – Kirsten Gudsnuk
  • "Heart wrenching." – Kayla Miller
  • "Nuanced and deeply felt.” – Andrea Wang

This book is REALLY GOOD!!!!

Next Stop by Debbie Fong, a middle grade graphic novel

Debbie sent me a few spreads of sample art so you can see her rough process from thumbnails, to pencils, to inks, to colors. She's a self-taught artist with a minimalist style influenced by indie comics.

Next Stop process illustration by Debbie Fong

Next Stop process illustration by Debbie Fong

And here's character sketches of the laconic main character, Pia:

Next Stop process illustration by Debbie Fong

And some lovely interior spreads to give you a sense of the story's deadpan humor and surrealist style:

Next Stop illustration by Debbie Fong

Next Stop illustration by Debbie Fong

Next Stop illustration by Debbie Fong

Her book launch at Books of Wonder on Tuesday night was packed!

Debbie Fong's book launch for NEXT STOP at Books of Wonder bookstore in March 2024

The wonderful Wendy Xu interviewed her. Wendy asked Debbie where her style comes from, and Debbie replied:

I'm a big fan of stories with a dreamlike quality. Where you're not quite sure what's real, and what's not. And I also really love stories that cross genres.

Then Wendy asked her to describe her creative process. Debbie said:

I script a lot at first. I know some graphic novelists will combine thumbs and scripting at the same time. That's not what I do. The story lives in my head at first, then I write it as a script. And then I toil away trying to make the pictures happen the way I see it in my head. I draw everything with ClipStudio on my iPad. With the iPad, I can keep working even when I travel.

Wendy concluded by asking her what her favorite part of the process is. Debbie answered:

That's easy. My favorite part is the color. I can sit and color the pages just like coloring a coloring book. It's very relaxing!

Debbie Fong's NEXT STOP book signing at Books of Wonder, March 2024

Pssst... want to know some insider secrets?

Before dawn tomorrow morning, I'll be on a train with Misako Rocks, heading to Baltimore Comic-con. This will be the first comics show where she reveals art and merchandise for her upcoming graphic novel, BOUNCE BACK.

And it'll be my first show where I present a new workshop which I'm very excited about, entitled...

Insider Secrets on How to Build a Successful Career as a Creator

Woohoo! It's going to be fun. I'll be explaining things like...

  • the four factors that matter most to agents and editors when they're deciding whether or not they want to work with you
  • the three foundational pieces you need in order to grow a powerful "author platform"
  • my favorite ninja trick on how to research the children's book and graphic novel market
  • why creative work requires greater emotional strength and resilience than other types of professions, and how to build your own emotional strength and resilience

And of course, I'll be answering any and all questions you might have on this topic.

The live workshop is happening at 2:45 pm this Sunday, October 20th, in room 339-342 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

I will see you there!!!! Right?


Hm, maybe you're not attending Baltimore Comic-con. Sadly! I wish I could see you in person.

If you can't make a special trip to Baltimore on Sunday, but you're still interested in the Insider Secrets workshop, I have good news.

I'd be happy to do the workshop online. For free. But I need to know how many people are interested.

If you'd like to join a live workshop on this topic, could you just email me and let me know?