Women, Comics, Williamsburg, and Large Low-Flying Critters
This past Monday I was privileged to moderate a panel of female graphic novelists and cartoonists as part of the Desk Set’s attempts to raise money for a group called Behind the Book here in town. Desk Set is a social networking group of librarians of all kinds, open to anyone and everyone. Behind the Book, in contrast, is a literary arts nonprofit that promotes literacy and a reading culture among low-income students in New York City public schools. Raising money for them = good stuff. The panel was called Women Working in Panels and the six female-type persons present included Rebecca Donner , Fly , Miriam Katin , Leslie Stein , Sara Varon , and Lauren Weinstein.
We held the event at The Huckleberry Bar in Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn. Williamsburg is the kind of place where, on certain streets, you can walk down them and be the only adult over the age of 25 for miles. This part of Williamsburg wasn’t gentrified quite yet, and I made it with time to spare. Already the Desk Setters were setting up the raffle prizes which included everything from a signed copy of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home to silkscreen prints.
Now until (checks date) Monday, July 21st I was pleased as punch to find that I had not gotten a SINGLE mosquito bite. As the summer progressed I began to feel like this was some kind of moral victory over the itchy scratchy hoard. Under normal circumstances I am a mosquito’s idea of coq au vin. Infinitely tasty fare. Yet here I was, newly returned from the wilds of Canada, not a single bit marring the perfect pastiness of my skin. New York City often sprays for mosquitos which is bad for the environment, yes, and good for me. But all that was about to change. I sat on that lovely little back porch area of the bar, conducting the panel, and the insectoid masses sensed my approach and salivated for me. They weren’t alone either. At one point an insect that some reported to be a flying roach (to be fair, it could have just been a bumblebee on steroids) dive bombed certain members of the audience in an attempt to escape the evening’s clever repartee. Fireflies were also out in force, far pleasanter than their compatriot creepy crawlies. The only problem with these fellows was that I am easily distractable. If a video had been made of the evening’s talk, I think you would find that at key moments my eyes are nowhere near the panelists and I’m making lunges towards the nearby fireflies in a misguided attempt to catch them. Shiny/flashy things have that affect.
In spite of that, the turnout was brilliant and the panelists even brillianter (note to self: not a word). Of the six I had only really ever run across author/illustrator Sara Varon. You may know her from that lovely little wordless graphic novel Robot Dreams which came out last year and ended up on Best 2007 Books lists from Kirkus and the New York Public Library. I had my copy of Robot Dreams on me for signing and she was awful nice about it. Even drew me a little bird, which is something I don’t often get but always enjoy.
Ms. Varon was not the only person present who had dipped their toe into the murky waters of children’s literature. Miriam Katin too had done some work in the past, though through small presses I haven’t any access to. I had a nice conversation with her and with one-namer awesome punk goddess Fly. I am not actually a cool enough person to speak with people who can go by the name "Fly", but she overlooked that fact and we had a good time.
Here you can see the fancy set-up. Everything from mikes to copious amounts of water. Well done, DS.
Here is the audience inside the bar.
Here is the same audience (one assumes) outside the bar.
And here are my lovely panelists.
I took some audio of the event which I may post if the spirit moves me to do so. Otherwise you can read an in-depth recap of the actual talk and what was said here.
A big time thank you to Maria, Sarah, and Laura for putting the whole thing together and for inviting me to be a part of it!
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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