A wide variety of comics artists with new and debut graphic novels will be featured on several panels here.
First up is this year’s “Hot Graphic Novels” panel, moderated by PW senior news editor Calvin Reid, today at 11 a.m. The panel features five artists, including Nidhi Chanani, author of Pashmina (First Second Books, Oct.); Iasmin Omar Ata, author of Mi(s)hadra (Gallery 13, Oct.); Liniers, author of Good Night, Planet (Toon Books, Sept.); Katie O’Neill, author of The Tea Dragon Society (Oni Press, Nov.); and Pratap Chatterjee and Khalil Bendib, coauthors of Verax (Metropolitan, Oct.).
These authors present a wide range of storytelling and social issues, taking on cultural conflicts and family values, as well as the growth of electronic surveillance (Verax) and even epilepsy (Mi(s)hadra).
Pashmina is Nidhi Chanani’s debut graphic novel. The story revolves around an Indian-American girl, Priyanka, and a magical shawl that transports her to a world she could only imagine—that of her mother’s past and her family’s heritage.
Chanani lives in the Bay Area and through her studio, Everyday Love, also does commercial illustration. In creating Pashmina, Chanani says she wanted to explore mother-daughter relationships and depict Indian culture and spirituality. Priyanka’s mother, Chanani says, “tries to protect her from her past, but she is too curious. She needs to understand who she is. So much of that story draws upon my own relationship with my mother, and through the course of making [the book] I had my own daughter.”
Gene Leun Yang’s acclaimed graphic novel American Born Chinese—the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award—was the reason Chanani wanted to be published by First Second Books, she says. “For me, the book changed my view on comics, and what comics could be,” she says. “First Second isn’t afraid to take risks, and they’re committed to books that address a gap in the kind of content available to readers.”
Over at the kids’ graphic novel house Toon Books, publisher Françoise Mouly is working to introduce American readers to the work of the acclaimed and bestselling Argentine cartoonist Liniers. Mouly was instrumental in publishing a new generation of alternative comics artists with her husband, the famed cartoonist Art Spiegelman, in Raw, their acclaimed comics line, in the 1980s. In addition to running Toon Books, she is also the longstanding art director of the New Yorker.
Wildly popular in Argentina, Liniers has produced numerous comics and a long-running daily strip in Spanish. Mouly recalls she first became acquainted with Liniers’s work in a comic-strip collection published in France, her home country. Liniers’s new work, Good Night, Planet, will be his third title published by Toon and will be released in English and Spanish. Aimed at young readers, Good Night, Planet is the story of a young girl’s stuffed animal that comes alive while most people sleep. It’s also an ode to the New England landscape, Mouly says, where Liniers and his wife and three daughters recently moved after he was named a fellow at the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont.
“What better way to celebrate moving to a new country than by drawing it?” Mouly says. “It has the makings of a book that you want to read over and over. It has the structure of home, away from home.”
Like Liniers, New Zealand native Katie O’Neill will be far from home when she attends BookExpo. Oni Press is publishing a print edition of O’Neill’s serial webcomic The Tea Dragon Society, which will be released in a hardcover edition that will be a larger trim size than a standard trade paperback.
The book tells the story of a young blacksmith named Greta and her dragons. O’Neill says it will deal with “keeping old traditions, old ways of life, old philosophies, different ways of viewing the world, and seeing how that can grow in young people.”
This year graphic novel authors are featured on other panels alongside prose authors. Tillie Walden, author of the graphic memoir Spinning (First Second Books), is featured on the Young Adult Editors Buzz Panel today (see p. 66), while Molly Ostertag, creator of the graphic novel The Witch Boy (Graphix), will join the Middle Grade Editors Buzz Panel tomorrow (see tomorrow’s Show Daily).
Today, 11–11:45 a.m. “Hot Graphics Novels of Fall 2017” panel takes place on the Uptown Stage.