Graphic Novel Workshop 2013


Registration is Open!

Austin SCBWI is thrilled to bring you a Graphic Novel Workshop on Oct. 5, 2013, 9:30am to 5:30pm at St. Edwards University. Registration is now open! Click here to register. Register early as seating is limited.

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Graphic novels are an exciting section of children’s literature. And it’s the only segment where writers and illustrators can pair up to create a project before going to a publisher. Read more about the format in this Q&A. And find out why graphic novels are truly for all ages, including early readers.

Our hands-on Graphic Novel Workshop will focus on the craft of developing the story, characters and blending of words and pictures that have attracted so many fans to this genre.

Our awesome speakers are:

• First Second Books Senior Editor Calista Brill (Read bio)

• Author/illustrator Dave Roman (Read bio)

• Author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Read bio)

Graphic Novel Workshop Schedule:

9:30-10:00AM  Registration

10:00-10:15AM  Welcome

10:15-11:00AM  Keynote: Calista Brill - This is the Golden Age of Graphic Novels
The history of comics in the U.S., the developments of the last 20 years, how comics as a serious literary art form are thriving more and are more accepted than they ever have been in the U.S.

11:15-12:15PM  Breakout Session (choose one):

• Dave Roman - Creating Graphic Novels
Much like picture books, graphic novels use words and pictures to tell a story, but each have their own distinct languages and creative potential. Through making a short-form comic, we’ll explore what goes into developing comic books and graphic novels, and what makes them such an engaging storytelling medium.

• Cynthia Leitich Smith - Breaking Down Story: Adapting Prose Writing to a Graphic Novel Script
How to take already written novels and turn them into a script for a brilliant graphic novel.

12:15-1:15PM  Lunch (included in your entrance fee)

1:15-2:00PM  KeynoteDave Roman - Finding Your Place in Comics & Graphics Novels
From comic strips, superheroes, graphic novels, webcomics, Kickstarter and beyond, there are more options than ever for artists to explore, each with their own rules, expectations and untapped potential. Self-publisher turned editor turned full-time graphic novel author Dave Roman will share anecdotes about working in various aspects of the comic industry and offer advice on helping artists find their unique voice.

2:15-3:15PM  Breakout Session (choose one):

• Calista Brill - Selling Your Graphic Novel
Dealing with publishing houses, pitching graphic novels to editors, what editors like to see and how you can build up a really good portfolio.

• Cynthia Leitich Smith - Story Creation 101 for Illustrators, New Writers & Forgetful Authors
A nuts-and-bolts look at how writers build story from the ground up with group exercises and participant readings/show-and-tell.

3:30-4:30PM  Q&A Panel: Calista Brill, Dave Roman & Cynthia Leitich Smith

4:30-5:30PM  Autograph party

Speaker Bios:

Calista Brill

Calista Brill

Calista Brill, Senior Editor at First Second Books, where she works with artists and writers to create great graphic novels for readers of all ages, interests, and temperaments.

She started her career at The Walt Disney Company, editing books for children about Princesses, Fairies, and Pirates. In her imaginary spare time, she makes stuffed animals and vegan pies.

With their combination of words and pictures, she says comics “are like the smell-o-vision of literature.” She says she likes that First Second creates a home for authors, and her enthusiasm for this genre seeps through in her interviews, like this one at Comic Book Resources, this one at The Comics Reporter and this video interview at Comics Are Great!. Read our interview with Calista.

Dave Roman

Dave Roman

• Dave Roman, author of several graphic novels including Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity, Teen Boat! and Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery. He has contributed stories to Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, Nursery Rhyme Comics, and is the co-author of two New York Times best-selling graphic novels, X-Men: Misfits and The Last Airbender: Zuko’s Story.

Roman is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts and worked as a comics editor for the groundbreaking Nickelodeon Magazine from 1998 to 2009. He lives in Astoria, NY with his wife, and fellow comic artist, Raina Telgemeier.

Dave blogs about his work at, and he talks about his latest graphic novel, Astronaut Academy: Re-Entry, at Comic Book Resources, giving insight into his inspirations. Read our interview with Dave Roman.

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia Leitich Smith, the critically acclaimed, New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author of the FERAL series and the TANTALIZE series, which includes two graphic novels, TANTALIZE: KIEREN’S STORY and ETERNAL: ZACHARY’S STORY. Cynthia has also published several short stories and award-winning books for younger readers. She makes her home in Austin, Texas and can be found on the Web at

Cynthia saw graphic novels as a way to expand her novel series into a new genre, while opening it up for new readers. The change came with a learning curve, but for an author who’s published in picture books and young adult, Cynthia jumped in despite the challenges. And she encourages other writers to try it as well.

If you were at the Austin SCBWI 2013 conference, you might have seen Cynthia talk about the creation of her graphic novels. At our Graphic Novel Workshop, she will expand on her talk and give tips on how you can follow her example. Read our interview with Cynthia.

Register here!