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Q&A

of a reader growing up and having something more challenging available when they’re ready, or a story for every sibling in a family. I also love trying new things, and a brand-new audience is an interesting puzzle. That said, I know 7-year-olds who read Anya’s Ghost without batting an eye, even when it scared their older sisters. The age ranges help with shopping and shelving, but readers can take on whatever they feel ready for! Kim, with all the Marvel and DC movies out in the mainstream, I imagine that translates to a resurgence in graphic novel interest. Do you find your audience widening?

Yes, and it’s amazing! I love books of all sorts, and have been delighted to watch as libraries, large bookstores, indie bookstores, and my local comic shop have all increased their all-ages offerings of graphic novels. I’ll be honest when I say I wasn’t a comic book fan in my early youth—my little brother would get Spider-Man comics when we’d check out from the grocery store, and as an 8-year-old girl, they had no appeal to me. It is such a wonderful storytelling medium, and I love that the genre is open now in America to all sorts of stories for all sorts of tastes. Incidentally, we make it a point to be at Marvel movies on opening night and Spider-Man is my favorite! Tell me about Surfside Girls—how did it all come about?

I first had the idea a long time ago of a couple of young girls in a beach town—loosely based on my best friend and me in middle school—with a supernatural mystery afoot. These two characters kept popping up in my sketchbook, and I developed a cast of characters around them who might inhabit a beach town—surfers, lifeguards, old lady meter maids (you know how crazy parking is in a beach town!). I wasn’t quite sure where it was going, and initially I thought I would pitch it as an animated series to Nickelodeon. I ran it by an entertainment attorney friend of mine, and he told me to make a book. A book? I wasn’t quite sure what that would look like. And then all of a sudden Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novelization of The Babysitter’s Club came out, and I was thunderstruck. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and I actually went to grad school to sharpen my skills and learn how to make a graphic novel. 

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Story Monsters Ink | June 2019 | StoryMonsters.com

Vera, you have a new book out, The Little Guys, which you are about to head off and tour! Can you give us a little background on where the ideas came from and what to expect?

The Little Guys is my second picture book, about a troop of acorn-hatted gnomes living in a forest. They’re teenytiny, but by working together, they’re able to take care of each other and get what they need. Maybe a little more than they need. I came up with the idea while in the throes of some political despair a couple of years ago. It’s a story about teamwork, greed, forgiveness, and the perils of a mob mentality. Hopefully it’s also funny and cute! I’ve been on tour with a Little Guy in my pocket, and he’s really enjoying saying hi to all the kids. So am I! Kim, what are you working on now and when will we be able to expect it?

I’m happy to say that I finished book 2 in January. Woo hoo! I can’t wait to see it out in the universe after working so hard on it! There’s a new mystery in Surfside that the girls stumble upon, and it takes place all while Sam is working as a Junior Lifeguard volunteer at Surfside’s annual surf competition. It will be out in July at San Diego Comic-Con. I’ve taken a few months off since then and have spent a lot of time recharging in my favorite place: the ocean! I am doing some fun creative things like making stickers for upcoming conventions, and I am working on a couple of mini-comics in the Surfside Girls universe.  Kim Dwinell is an illustrator/animator/graphic novelist and teacher in Long Beach, California. Visit her website at SurfsideGirls.com or Facebook: @surfsidegirls and Instagram: @kimberly.dwinell. Vera Brosgol is a Russian-born animator, storyboard artist, and graphic novelist whose awards include a Caldecott Honor and an Eisner Award. You can check out her work at verabee.com or on Instagram and Twitter: @verabee.

Julianne DiBlasi Black has written and illustrated several books, including Sleep Sweet, the multi-award winning Augmented Reality picture book. krakensky.com.

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Story Monsters Ink® - June 2019  

This month's issue includes interviews with NBA legend Kobe Bryant, SNL alum Vanessa Bayer, Mickey Rapkin, Zack Bush, Symonne Harrison, Timo...

Story Monsters Ink® - June 2019  

This month's issue includes interviews with NBA legend Kobe Bryant, SNL alum Vanessa Bayer, Mickey Rapkin, Zack Bush, Symonne Harrison, Timo...

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