by Bryan Patrick Avery
It’s a new year and, for many, that means trying new things. A lot of my friends in the kid lit community and considering trying their hands at writing a graphic novel. My advice is always the same: “Do it!”
As a kid, I loved reading graphic novels (yes, graphic novels count as reading). The Uncanny X-Men and Detective Comics were among my favorites. When I started writing for kids, I knew that, one day, I wanted to write at least one graphic novel. I wrote my first, and it’s currently on submission. I plan to complete my second this year. So, for any of you who may be interested in taking a crack a graphic novel of your own. I thought I’d share a few great examples of the genre and a couple of resources that can help you get started.
If you’re interested in writing a graphic novel in the chapter book space, check out COOKIE & BROCCOLI: READY FOR SCHOOL by Bob McMahon. One book in a fantastic series, it features Cookie and Broccoli who become friends and learn to navigate social situations together. It’s both funny and touching and a perfect example of how simple illustrations can go a long way in a graphic novel.
For the middle grade crowd, check out Dana Simpson’s PHOEBE AND HER UNICORN. It’s hilarious. Phoebe meets a unicorn and decides they’re going to be best friends. It takes some time though, as this particular unicorn is pretty egotistical. Perhaps that’s not too surprising since her name is Marigold Heavenly Nostrils Still, over time, the two become close as Phoebe learns all about unicorns and Marigold learns all about humans, particularly kids. If you’re looking for an example of great middle grade graphic novel, check out PHOEBE AND HER UNICORN.
If you’re looking for a mentor text for YA readers that’s a bit darker, check out DAYBREAK. Written and illustrated by Brian Ralph, it takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. What really makes this book interesting though, is that the reader is the main character in the book. Every panel shows the action through the reader’s eyes. Also, Ralph does an excellent job of letting the looming danger drive the action. This isn’t a breakneck race through a horde of zombies. Instead, it’s a careful trek through a world that has obviously been decimated by something awful that still lurks in the shadows. It’s an amazing read, all the way to it’s stunning conclusion.
If you want to dive into writing graphic novels, there are no shortage of books to guide you on your way. I’d recommend checking out MAKING COMICS by Scott McCloud and COMICS AND SEQUENTIAL ART by Will Eisner. Both will give you a crash course in writing comics and will no doubt inspire you to push forward.
Well, that’s all for this month. Happy writing and have a magical month!
Bryan Patrick Avery is an award-winning poet and author of more than a dozen books for children. His middle grade collective biography, BLACK MEN IN SCIENCE, illustrated by Nikita Leanne, was released in 2022. Bryan is also the author of the middle-grade story, “The Magic Day Mystery”, which appears in SUPER PUZZLETASTIC MYSTERIES, THE FREEMAN FIELD PHOTOGRAPH, illustrated by Jerome White, the early chapter book series, MR. GRIZLEY’S CLASS, illustrated by Arief Putra and the picture books EARL LEARNS A LESSON and MAX’S MAGIC CHANGE, both illustrated by Roman Diaz.
Bryan serves on the board of directors of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and is an Amplify Black Stories Fellow, a joint program presented by the Brown Bookshelf and the Highlights Foundation. Bryan lives in northern California with his family.
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We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with awesome multi-published former student Shirin Shamsi who will be focusing on Muslim and cultural kidlit.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays will feature STEM, STEAM & SEL obsessed author Kourtney LaFavre sharing delightfully dorky, quirky, and fun info.
And 5th Mondays we'll be taking a break