Raina Telgemeier: 2016 National Book Festival

>> From the Library of Congress in Washington, DC >> Nora Krug: Thank you and welcome to the National Book Festival, now in its 16th year Sorry that I’m not Raina I have to keep you two more minutes until she comes out But my name is Nora and I’m a books editor at the Washington Post and we are a charter sponsor of the festival And what can I say? We all love Raina This book, I just gave to my daughter who’s seven, last week, and we were in a bookstore and she didn’t have anything to say and I asked her how’d she like the book, how was it going She didn’t say anything And then I said, you know, next weekend, I might be meeting that author, what do you think? Do you like her? She didn’t say anything And then I just was about to say something else and she turned around and said those words that every parent wants to hear, “Mom, stop asking me questions I’m reading.” So, I really want to thank Raina for, you know, we’re now already on, I think, her third or fourth of this week and I’ve got more coming in the mail, but anyway So we have, of course, there’s “Smile,” “Sisters” and “Ghosts” and “Baby-Sitters Club” and I bet you’ve all experienced what I have and I know thousands of other people feel this way because I just saw, noticed that Raina has, I think, five books on the bestseller list, in the New York Times bestseller list this week which is a pretty amazing achievement and very, very much well-deserved She’s really inspired a lot of young readers and I see– love to see all of you out here I just have one small bit of housekeeping It’s that I hope you all were able to get your books signed earlier today She’s not going to be able to be signing after this event, so I hope you were able to do that She loves to meet you all but we’ve got a lot of you here So, without further ado, Raina Telgemeier [ Cheering and Applause ] >> Raina Telgemeier: Hi, guys How’s everybody doing? [ Cheering and Applause ] Awesome. So, I’m Raina and I think we’re going to just quickly do a test to make sure my clicker works It does, excellent So, I’m the creator of some graphic novels, “Smile,” “Sisters,” “Drama,” “The Baby-Sitters Club” graphic novels, and my newest graphic novel is called “Ghosts.” And to introduce you guys to this book, what I’d love to do is get a couple of people to come up here and read a chapter with me on stage So, we need two readers We need somebody to play Cat who’s the older sister and she’s kind of– she’s a little sarcastic and she’s a little like not happy to be here So, I guess I need somebody who’s really not happy to be here at all today, like just really having a horrible time Are you having a horrible time today, with a hat, my friend? Can you fake it? You’re a good actor Let’s get you up on stage All right And now we need somebody to play Maya who’s the little sister and she is a ball of energy She is excited about everything You also need to be a very good reader to play this role Are you a good reader? >> Yes >> Raina Telgemeier: OK Let’s get you up on stage All right Here’s the thing though, I think we need to stand off the stage so that we can see the screen better So, come on down Now, I’ve gotten you up here And I actually have a job for the audience as well So, what I want for you guys to do is to do all of the sound effects So, we need a rehearsal very quickly This doesn’t require you guys to yell because there are so many people in this room But if we can do a sound effect for a cellphone like this on the screen, like what would that sound like? It’s good And then what about this one? All right You’re going to see this sound effect three times in this story So the first time, I want it to be very quiet So let’s try that real quiet OK, then slightly louder And then super loud Is this going to be so good? OK, what about this one? How about this? All right So this one’s a little different Maya has cystic fibrosis and that means that she wears this special vest to help kick the mucus out of her lungs and make it easier for her to cough up So for this one, I want this half of the audience do the sound of Maya’s vest which you see on screen So let’s try that from here on over OK. And you guys on this side of the room get to pound on your chest while you sing

All right, now everybody all together, please Amazing. All right So this story starts the way every good story does, out of fake In-N-Out burger because I can’t use In-N-Out as copyright infringement in my books And now, Cat and Maya, you guys are going to stand next to me We have to share the microphone We’re going to read off the screen Dad starts off by saying “One Double-Back combo, one Cheese-Back with fries, a double Napoleon shake,” and then Maya says– >> Don’t forget my soda! >> Raina Telgemeier: Here you go, girls >> Do they have Double-Back Burger in our new town, dad? >> Raina Telgemeier: I don’t think so, Cat They only have them down here in Southern California >> What are we even going to eat in our new town? >> Raina Telgemeier: We are moving Up north and to the coast Dad got a new job, but we all know the real reason we’re going My little sister, Maya She’s not a healthy kid I’m trying not to be selfish The text says, “Hey Cat, my bubbe is cooking dinner tonight You want to come over? Oh, right, I forgot.” But it’s hard You OK back there, Cat? >> Yeah. I’m OK >> Raina Telgemeier: Maya has cystic fibrosis It’s a thing you’re born with It affects breathing and digestion How about a little music? Click. And this is the part where I tell you guys that I could not use the actual lyrics from “Frozen.” So instead of using those lyrics, we used “Let it out, let it out Can’t hold it in, got to shout.” And there’s no cure Mom and dad are dragging us to this gloomy place, Bahia de la Luna, California They say the sun only shines here 62 days of the year When I heard that, I’d said >> Ew, I’d rather die >> Raina Telgemeier: Which did not go over very well >> I’m going to miss Ari and Maddie and Hibah >> Raina Telgemeier: Of course, I don’t want to die and I want Maya to be as healthy as possible Duh! >> You mean all of my friends? What about your friends? >> They’re my friends, too >> Raina Telgemeier: Cat? >> Yes, Maya, they’re your friends, too >> Raina Telgemeier: This is it, girls >> The green one? >> Raina Telgemeier: No, the little red one >> Cat, this place is so cool >> Mmm >> I can’t believe we get to live here Look, look, look, the ocean is so close >> It’s freezing I’m going inside So dark in here >> Raina Telgemeier: What do you think, Cat? >> It’s dark >> Raina Telgemeier: It’s perfect >> Ha >> Cat! Gasp, pant Come see my new– come, come downstairs Come see my new room! >> OK, I’m coming Hey, it’s cozy in here >> Watch this Cannonball! Cough, cough, cough >> Raina Telgemeier: It’s about time for your breathing treatment, Maya Oh, oh, oh, yeah The vest helps loosen the mucus in her lungs Her soul does not need any loosening, though >> Mom? >> Raina Telgemeier: Maya’s vest just blew a fuse, sweetie You OK up there? >> Yeah, I just– I just don’t know this house very well yet >> Raina Telgemeier: Why don’t you take your sister to explore the town while we work on getting the power back on? And so– >> Oh, it’s a secret pathway >> Maya! We don’t know what’s down there Ha >> Maybe this path will lead us to– kitty!

>> Don’t touch it! >> Why not? It’s so cute >> Because you know what they say about letting a black cat cross your path It’s bad luck And you had enough bad luck lately Come on, let’s see where this thing leads I’m actually feeling cold >> Raina Telgemeier: Oh no [ Inaudible Remark ] >> OK. Whoa >> Raina Telgemeier: Awesome job, you guys Thank you You can have a seat [ Applause ] OK. Where’s Sheila Marie? I missed– there she is OK. I forgot I knew I was going to forget I want to take a selfie with you guys, can we do that? OK. We might have to take two because it’s such a big crowd So, I’ve been doing this at every event that I do and then I put them on Instagram and I’m goraina there So, everybody here, it’s best if you hold up your books or your arms and look as amazing as possible So, one, and then one on this direction Yeah. Right side of the room OK. Thanks so much you guys All right So, quickly, I’m going to talk a little bit about comics and about why I make them, how I make them, starting with my influence as in my inspiration because the number one question that comics creators and writers get asked is “What inspired you, what influenced your work?” And for me, it kind of goes back to something kind of important, cartoons on television I love anything animated, “The Smurfs” and “Scooby-Doo,” anything Disney I also love to read and some of my favorite books were realistic and temporary fiction That means books about kids who where kind of like me So a lot of my favorites were things like the “The Baby-Sitters Club” and Judy Blume and “Ramona” books And then I discovered comic strips when I was nine years old in the newspaper The first comic strip I fell in love with was “Calvin and Hobbes” which is about a boy named Calvin and his tiger, Hobbes And these two have big imaginations, they’re very funny I love reading this comic strip So it was very interesting, but it was also just super fun to look at I love the drawings It’s just minds on paper and yet to meet these characters felt like they were alive My other favorite comic was “For Better or for Worse” by Lynn Johnston This is a comic about a very average suburban family There’s a mom and a dad and a brother and a sister and I also have a mom and a dad and a brother and a sister So it’s kind of like reading about my own life, except in comics Uniquely about “For Better or for Worse” is the fact that the characters all age in real time So every year, they would get older and so with I and I was about the same age as the kids So it was almost like we were growing up together It was almost like they were my next door neighbors or my best friends and not comic strip characters So the lines were very blurred between what was real and what was fiction And then when I was 10, my dad gave me this book to read It’s called “Barefoot Gen” a cartoon story of Hiroshima So this was sort of a true life account of the author’s experience living through the atomic bombing of Japan during World War II and so I started to read this book It was about these kids and they ran around and they sing and they dance and they’re very silly and I was actually kind of enjoying it and at the end of the book, the bomb falls and half the characters in the story actually die And so when I read this, three things happen Number one, I was really mad at my dad for giving me this book to read Number two, I was mad at such a horrible thing that happened in the world And number three, I was mad because I thought that comics were supposed to be fun, I thought they were supposed to make you laugh and feel happy and this book did the opposite So, it was kind of like the rug had been pulled out from under me but it made me aware of the fact that comics could be incredibly powerful ways to tell stories, any kind of story you want So I sort of filed that away in my head for later And this is what the interior looked like It was a manga It was created in the 70s in Japan It was in black and white But I went back to reading fun stuff So, “Bone” by Jeff Smith is something I discovered when I was in college Anybody here read “Bone” by Jeff Smith? Awesome. So, those of you that have your hands in the air, did you guys read this book in color or in black and white? I’m hearing mostly color, a few black and whites When I read “Bone” it looked like this, it was a black and white comic and that’s because Jeff Smith, the artist and the writer, used to self-publish and that means he was spending his own money to print and distribute it and it’s a lot cheaper to do that with black and white comics than it is to do so with color ones So that’s how influences work You put everything into the blender inside of your brain and what comes out are the types of things you like to draw, the kinds of stories you like to tell It’s all influence going inside of you and then what comes out is kind of your own stamp on things And so now, I’m going to show you some of my early work Because another thing people always want to know is were you always as good at drawing and I’m like, “Yeah, obviously.” So what you see on the left there is a scribble

from just before my second birthday And just like most kids, my parents gave me crayons and paper to play with And I just really liked it So I just kept going and eventually, I got better What you see on the right, I believe from around my fourth birthday and I don’t know why these are people with pizza faces but I mean I was, you know, they don’t look like more than a scribble at that point That’s me and my sister Amara She is five years younger than me So, for a brief period I was a better artist than her but she then very quickly become a better artist than me And you can see a few of my drawings on the wall back there It’s, I believe, the Easter bunny because it’s a rabbit with a basket and then a mermaid there on the right of my head When I was in first grade, I had this amazing teacher named Miss Stoopenkoff and she made up for her silly sounding name by being one of the best teachers I have ever had She gave us this super cool assignment where she gave us each a diary And so one day, she’d write us a letter and in the next day we’d write her a letter in response We did this for the entire year and since I was just learning to write, I found this diary pretty recently and I could see my own writing skills improve over the course of that year But what I also realized and I didn’t even remember this part was that I used to make comics in my little diary So, as really as age six I was making comics I never even read a comic at this point and yet somehow my brain was just tuned to thinking in words and pictures together So, this is my graduation program from fifth grade You can certainly see the influence of “For Better or For Worse” on my work at this point and that’s on the same time I started making my own comic strips And here is the thing, I was not very good at it In fact, I would say I was terrible at it I didn’t know how to put panel borders on things I didn’t really know how to put dialog together and how to do punch lines But the point is I stuck with it and over the course of time, I got a little bit better I’m not saying my comics were funny at this point I’m just saying that I kept with it and eventually I got a little bit better An illustration from my seventh grade yearbook At this point, my whole goal was just to observe So what were my friends wearing? What do they look like? How do they stand? What was there body language? All that stuff was really important to me And I kept a diary in comic format just like I did in first grade pretty much all the way to the end of college So anything my friends and I did, I would illustrate This is us going to the supermarket for lunch and talking about the gross types of deli meats that they had I was the illustrator for my high school newspaper This one was about prom dates, which type of prom date you were And eventually, I had to figure out where I was going to go to college and I chose to go to a place called the School of Visual Arts which is in New York City and I moved there all the way from California So, why that school in particular? Well, you can go there and you can take painting and sculpture, photography, but you can also go there and get a degree in cartooning which makes your mom really happy that you have like a diploma for your wall that says comics on it But for some reason, oh, well, this is another reason I wanted to go to New York is because New York is awesome “Sesame Street” told me that once upon a time and then the movie “Oliver & Company” sold it to me again when I was a little older So, yes, you can take all those usual art school things This is a different presentation than I usually get It’s kind of little rusty here So here is the thing, I decided to be an illustration major at the school and that just means you’re getting better at focusing on single images, painting and drawing to make your single images beautiful But I’d go to my painting class, for example, what you see here The teacher would say I would like a painting about a magical transformation and I’d go, OK, well, that’s cool How about if I do two paintings instead? And maybe after that painting is done, I’ll do three Could I also maybe do four? I mean five? My teachers were like, “Raina, just one painting,” and I was like lots and lots of paintings But what do they look like when you line them all up against the wall? They look like a comic, right? That’s all comics are They are just words and pictures and sequence that tell a story So we did take a lot of cartooning classes there and this is where I just had the most fun and I made comics like this one which is about the fact that my college had a lot of stairs and this one which is about my very first cup of tea, a super fascinating subject, right? This is the entire comic, just one page, and my goal is to capture a mood and a memory on paper and that’s what most of my short stories were about was just these little memories I had on my head So I took all these ideas, all these short stories and collected them into something called minicomics and that simply means a comic that you make yourself by hand So I would go to the Xerox machine, I would print my pages out and then fold them and staple them into these little booklets called minicomics I called my series “Take-Out.” I did seven issues, each one was 12 pages long, black and white, short stories, mostly about my childhood, and altogether I managed to print and distribute about 7000 copies of these little comics And it’s not like I just walked at my front door and said, hey guys, I have comics, who wants them? I had to figure out how to get them into people’s hands So, I would go to comic bookstores and I would tell them that I was a creator and ask if they wanted to sell my work there And so they would take half the commission

and I would take the other half I sold my books for a dollar a piece, and that meant that sometimes I get a check in the mail for like $2.50 and I was like yeah But that’s what’s cool about comics since there is almost no barrier for entry So, anybody who wants to do this can You don’t need that many tools You can use a computer or you can use a pencil All you have to do is print your books out and you can say that you’re a self-publisher which is really empowering I also used to go to comic conventions a lot and this is where, you know, 150,000 people who love comics get together and gig out for a weekend So it’s like the National Book Festival, only it’s all comics And you get a lot of people who are fans, you get a lot of cosplay, you meet fellow creators, you meet writers and artists and editors and all of the big publishers go So it’s Marvel Comics and DC Comics and Archie Comics And in the center of all of that, self-publishers like me could also get a small table and sell my work to that same audience So one of the people I met at a comic convention was a guy named David Saylor who was the editorial director at Scholastic and was starting up something called the graphics in print And that means that Scholastic, who’s the publisher of, you know, the “Harry Potter” series and “The Hunger Games” and all this other amazing stuff, was going to start publishing comics, too, and the first comic they published was “Bone” by Jeff Smith So if you’ve read it in color it’s because Scholastic published it that way And they asked me if I wanted to work with them and I was like, oh my gosh, that’s so exciting But the problem is the longest story I had ever written at that point in my life was eight pages long Graphic novels tend to be like a hundred pages long So I was like what am I going to do for these guys? And the answer was to go back to something I was a huge fan of when I was a kid and that would be “The Baby-Sitters Club” and this is a fan art I did of “The Baby-Sitters Club” when I was 10 years old So, I really have been a fan for a very long time So what I ended up doing was to take this old-favorite series in mind and to adapt it into graphic novel format So what on earth does that mean, to adapt something? Well, this is what the books used to look like, just words, no pictures But of course, these novels were full of exposition and that means it was describing what was happening in the scene So it would say Claudia is sitting on her bed, she is wearing this particular outfit, she is eating Milk Duds and she turns to Kristy who is sitting in the director’s chair and she says– so that’s what I would draw and then all of the dialog that was in the books went right into the comics So this is what they looked like when I was done with them And you might notice that something is missing which is the color All of my comics used to be in black and white So, we didn’t think it was too strange for me to publish “The Baby-Sitters Club” comics in black and white But, of course, 10 years later we realize that kids really do like to read color comics so these books have been republished in color by Scholastic just recently and it’s the same colorist who worked with me on “Sisters” and “Ghosts.” His name is Braden Lamb and he is fantastic So it’s been really amazing to see these books get sort of a new life And in fact, people always want to know if there are more “Baby-Sitters Club” graphic novels coming and I say there are but I’m not going to be the person to draw them So, but here’s what’s amazing They’re being drawn by an artist named Gale Galligan She used to be my assistant So, she’s somebody who’s very near and dear to me and she’s an amazing artist and I think the first book comes out next summer So this is going to be done in the impossible three BSC graphics number five So I think you guys will like that a lot too So let me talk about “Smile.” Thanks [ Applause ] So “Smile” is kind of the book that changed my life and it’s a true story And for those of you that haven’t read “Smile,” I’m going to summarize it for you So one evening, after a Girl Scout’s meeting, I was in sixth grade, I was running home with two of my friends and I tripped and I fell and I knocked out my two front permanent teeth and then I had to spend the rest of middle school and half of high school without them And that meant dealing with surgery and braces and head gear and false teeth and all sorts of things that made me feel like I was a freak And do you guys want to see a photograph of what that looked like? If you don’t, I’m really sorry, I’m going to show it to you anyway So, what happened was I fell and I knocked one tooth completely out It was lying on the pavement And the other one got shoved up into my gum And then my dentist’s solution to that problem was to put them both back in place But when he did so, as you can see, suddenly my two front teeth sat up a little higher in my mouth than they were supposed to I think the bones above my teeth had been damaged as well So all of a sudden, I have this weird gap in the front that made me look a little bit like a vampire and that’s where I got the name Vampire Girl and that’s when people started teasing me and asking me what was wrong with my face and why I look so weird And I was already sort of a self-conscious kid to begin with I was very shy So having people up in my face all the time when I was already like going through puberty and stuff was not exactly the way I wanted to spend sixth grade, but I did not have a choice So, the story has a lot of dentistry in it This scene, I’m getting an impression of my mouth made which means that it’s that tray full of sticky stuff that they shove up into your mouth and then you have to lie there

and wait while it hardens and it’s horrible and you’re gagging But then when you spit it out, you got a perfect mold of your teeth and that part is kind of cool In this scene, I got a set of false teeth on a retainer that looked really good normal when I had it in, but when I popped it out I could scare my friends That part was fun And there’s a flashback sequence to the time I lost my first front tooth as a six-year-old kid in a carnival in a bounce house and everything was great I was bouncing I was having a super fun time until I got too close to the netting that’s on the side of the bounce house So I bounced up and when I bounced down my front tooth hooked on the net and went flying into the air And because it’s happening in a gravel parking lot, I never found my tooth So people always want to know if this is a true story Did this thing really happen? Did that part really happen? Is your name really Raina? Do you really have brown hair? Oh my gosh! Everything is real Everything is true I do sometimes alter details So for example, on– in the first chapter of “Smile” I learn I need braces in the afternoon I go to a Girl Scout meeting We talked about it and at that night I trip and fall and knock out my two front teeth That did not all happen on the same day So, for the sake of the timeline of the story, sometimes I will compress details, sometimes I change people’s names to protect the guilty, as we say But my family is real, so am I And so this is us as comic strip characters They think that’s pretty cool My friends are a slightly different story Now these are the people who teased me and called me names and bullied me just a little bit But I managed to represent almost all of them in the story Like I said, some names were changed to protect the guilty And then after “Smile,” oh, well, before I talk about that, I’m going to tell you that the other thing that’s real is my clothing So kids, ask your parents to dig up their photos from 1991 and I guarantee you, they will also have some acid washed denim and some scrunchies and hopefully some mock turtlenecks Oh yeah. So after “Smile” I wrote a book called “Drama” and this was my first stab at fiction, but it’s only just so fictionalized So, it’s about a girl named Callie and her two best friends, Jesse and Justin, who are twin gay Filipino boys, and I happen to also have best friends who are gay twin Filipino boys So, I mean their names aren’t Jesse and Justin but it’s basically like our friendship except fictionalized and put into a book And these kids are all on the stage crew at their school and that means they are the ones who are running the lights and the sound and making costumes and props And I always like to stop here and give props to the people over there who are running my tech because without them I would not be standing here right now Thank you, guys [ Applause ] Stage crew is a really important job And these are the kids who love to do it So, I wanted to make a story about those kids And it’s kind of inspired by my life and that I was definitely a musical theater and stage kid when I was in high school and middle school, but I was never the leading lady I was always in the ensemble, which is the kids who stand back here and like sing three lines in the show and not the whole thing So I get cast as like aristocrat number seven or hobo number three or a child So I’m not behind the podium because I am almost the same height as it I’m very short So, I spent a lot of time backstage just kind of observing and being aware of what was going on during shows and that was always really cool to me I wanted to sort of capture that essence This is also one of the things that inspired “Drama.” I was in student government in school and I was– had a role called the art commissioner which means that most of what my job was was to paint big posters for dances So this is me and my friend Jake who’s totally the inspiration for Jesse I totally had a crush on him He totally did not have a crush on me That was weird It’s a little awkward But yeah, if you read “Drama” you have a little bit of a sense of why that was So– and here’s Callie painting She’s making a gigantic tree prop for her school And this is a tree prop I made one time for my Girl Scout play It’s just like a little cylinder tube of paper with like pipe cleaners and leaves and stuff at the top So after “Smile” and after “Drama,” people were just like we want to hear more stories about your life And I realized that there was one page in “Smile” that talked about a road trip my family took when I was a kid We drove from San Francisco to Colorado And what an eventful trip it was and I’ve realized I can make an entire book based on that experience So that’s what “Sisters” is It’s about being stuck in the back seat of your car with your little sister And in my case, it was also a chance to examine my relationship with Amara, which like I said we’re both artists and that’s one of the only things we have in common We’re very different people And I wanted to understand us a little bit better So it goes back into our lives and we talked about what it was like to have her as a baby And then as we grew up, I guess one of the things you could say we had in common was all of our childhood pets and the misbegotten ways that they’ve died

So, here’s a picture where you see how excited we are to get our first goldfish and then a photo that tells you how exciting goldfish actually are Amara loves snakes and I hate snakes And the reason I hate them so much is because when I was little, my family went camping and I was picking blackberries and I was like in the middle of the patch and then I accidentally stepped on something rubbery and looked out and there was a dead snake under my sandal So I ran out of there and I had all scratched and scraped up by thorns My family thought it was hilarious and I did not think it was hilarious But my sister was like “I am totally getting a snake for a pet someday,” and I was like “You are totally not.” And then my parents totally bought it for her and they promised me that it would never bother me I would never have to see it or feed it or touch it It would definitely never get out of its cage or anything like that Well, if you bought this book you know the snake does get out of its cage and it got into my family’s car and then it stayed there for six months I didn’t even know snakes could do that but apparently they can We thought maybe it had gotten out We thought it must have died No, it did not And of course, the snake story and the road trip story intersect in this delightful space So I’m not going to say anymore about that because I want to talk about my book “Ghosts” which has just been out for a little over a week and it’s already like I’m meeting kids who were like “This is my favorite book that you’ve written.” I’m just like “Wow, did you read it like today?” And they’re like “Yeah, I’ve read it in your signing line.” So, that’s supper awesome but it also took me two years to make this book So, it’s the curse and the blessing of being a graphic novelist I’m grateful either ways It’s been a really fun week and I’ve been on book tour and haven’t been home for about two weeks So, it’s really amazing to be standing in front of you guys today talking about it So this book has actually existed longer than two years It’s been in my head for a very long time and these sketches that are in the back of the book, I did in 2008 And I have been thinking about these characters for a lot longer So it’s about this girl Cat who’s 11 and her little sister Maya who has cystic fibrosis and, of course, they moved to the town of Bahia de la Luna because they think that the sea air is going to better for Maya’s lungs And Bahia de la Luna is not a real place but it’s inspired by a place called Half Moon Bay, California which is not too far from where I grew up And it’s this very windswept beachy, foggy place It’s very cool and mysterious They also have a lot of pumpkin farms there So it’s where you go for Halloween in order to get your pumpkins And I always thought what a cool place to set a story What a cool place to set a ghost story, in fact So that’s what I did and these are just some of my old sketches, sort of trying to capture the atmosphere of the place So the girls moved there and Cat is not happy about it She doesn’t want to leave her friends behind They’re from Southern California where it’s much warmer so she doesn’t like the cold weather That’s another thing she and I have in common is I’m not a huge fan of the fog But one of the first thing that happens is they meet their neighbor Carlos who explains to them that the town is haunted and it is filled with ghosts And Maya’s really excited to meet a ghost and that’s probably because she’s not a healthy kid So, she wants to know what’s going to happen to her if she happens to die And Cat, who’s a little bit more like me, is very anxious and she’s worried and she doesn’t want to meet the ghosts at all because she’s afraid that they’re going to harm her sister So, they go anyway and they go up to this old mission that’s near their house and that’s where they’re looking for ghosts Cat is completely losing her mind and super afraid and then she ends up being the first one to see a ghost And then she gets to know the ghost a little bit And this is what happens when you’re scared of something Sometimes if you confront your fear or you get to know it a little bit, you might be surprised that it’s not quite as scary as you think it is So Cat gets to know the ghost and then the next thing she knows, they’re becoming her friends and they’re having fun together So, that’s just one of the themes in this story and it was inspired by a lot of different things in my life, but it was definitely about confronting fear and anxiety So here’s a couple of photographs that I took when I was researching the book and doing my location scouting, just like you would for a film I took lots and lots of photographs of beach towns and, you know, the cliffs above the ocean and really tried to get this atmosphere into my stories And this is me at one of missions There are 21 missions in California and you can go and visit most of them And I believe this is in Mission Carmel And when you’re there, you can almost feel history everywhere around you You can sort of feel the ghosts And so again, that was something I wanted to capture in this story So, very quickly, I’m just going to tell you about my process because this is something people are very curious about They want to talk to me about it But it’s actually easier to show how I work because my entire process is visual So when I write stories, this is what they look like Yes, that’s right I write in a visual format called thumbnails which is what you see on the screen So a thumbnail simply means like a rough draft version or a blueprint or a sketch of every single page where you’re indicating the panel borders The characters are stick figures

All of the dialog is there All of the sound effects are there And this is a great way for me to see how comics are paced out And as you guys saw with the reading, there’s a lot of silent panels and there’s a lot of sort of panels where a sound effect and the pictures do a lot of the talking So that’s how write This is how my ideas come out off my head and onto the page And then once I am done with those, I’ve done an entire book of thumbnails, 250 pages I send them to my editor and we edit from this stage So that’s where I go to make my corrections too I just redraw my thumbnails So depending on the book that takes– I’ve done– I thumbnailed “Sisters” in a month which is crazy Most of the time, it takes me anywhere between two and six months to create a script And then once I’m done with that, I move on to pencils And for this, I’m using a type of paper called Bristol board which is just a little bit thicker and smoother and heavier than regular paper And here, I’m simply spending more time on the artwork So, I’m going to go back a slide and show you guys what my thumbnails look like and you can compare that to the final art It’s all of the same information It’s just that I have spent more time creating the art And then directly over that same piece of paper, I ink and I am still very old school and traditional I use a water color brush For those who of you that are like “What kind of brush is it,” it’s a Winsor & Newton Series 7 Sable brush number 2 size And if you’re like what, it’s on my website goraina.com, so you can check it out there And type of India ink? It’s waterproof that I really like and then a small liner pen for things like eyeballs, shirt buttons, really small details And then everything looks like that when all is set and done So I told you that “Ghosts” took two years and that’s time at the desk That’s not time thinking about it It’s two years to actually create the book Each “Baby-Sitters Club” book took one year to create and “Smile” took me five years from start to finish to create So I always tell people I hope you’re not an impatient person if you want to make comics because it does require you to be patient But for me, it’s worthwhile It’s my art form I love it the best It’s my favorite way to tell stories So everything got scanned into a computer and now I bring the files into a program called Photoshop This is where I make all of my corrections This is where the coloring gets done And I don’t do my own color work I work with a guy named Braden Lamb, who does my colors and it’s really awesome seeing my pages kind of come to life once they get colored And then everything gets assembled digitally So, the lettering gets put in and the page numbers and stuff like that And then, we also work on the covers this way I mean I do a sketch and then the publisher picks one and then I work it up into a finished sketch and then a finished piece art We put all the title font and somewhat in this great package the whole thing is digital We send the files to Asia and they’re printed in Singapore And then the books come back on a boat and that takes a while too But holding your book for the first time in your hands never gets old I have created eight books to this point in my career and every time a new one comes out I’m just like wow It’s like I had a baby or something No, it’s nothing like that I’ve actually never had a baby, so I don’t know But I can only imagine that you’ve put so much love and care into this thing, into making this thing, and then it arrives and then it’s kind of like– it takes on a life of its own Each of my books definitely has a life of its own People always want to know what is my favorite book that I have created and it is like saying taking your favorite child Like you just– how could you do that? Some of you are like “No, I could do that,” but I don’t think I could You love them all So what’s next? I mean I’ve had a book out for a week and a half So, like shouldn’t I take a little bit of time off? Of course not, that’s not how it works in this business We’re always thinking about what’s next So for me, it’s going to be– this is just a big spoiler for you guys I’m going to do another memoir and this one’s going to be about me and my dad and a certain book that he gave me to read when I was 10 years old and how that book changed my entire life So, that’s all I can say about it for now This is about as much as I’ve got done, maybe 20, 25 pages of thumbnails And so you can see us going to the bookstore at San Francisco State University where he used to teach And then we’re gigging out together in the comic book section And I don’t have a title for this book yet, but it should be out some time in 2018 So, cross your fingers for me that my hand hold out for you all this process Yeah, and I plan to never stop doing this If I can do this my entire life I absolutely plan to It’s an absolute joy I’m so happy I get to work for you guys And it’s just been a great ride So, thank you so much [ Applause ] What’s the time? Five minutes OK, we have time for just a few questions So if you’ve got questions we’re going to go this side and then this side Make them as quick as you can and I will try to answer as many as possible >> What is your favorite book that you wrote? >> Raina Telgemeier: I can’t answer that question because it’s

like choosing your favorite child I like them all Yes? >> What advice do you have for younger artists and writers? >> Raina Telgemeier: It’s the same advice for any person of any age Start small Don’t try to write a long story first Try writing a short story and seeing what your characters interact like And then, you can write longer and longer stories as you pick up steam Hi >> I would like to know what were your emotions when you were writing the book “Smile.” >> Raina Telgemeier: My emotions Pretty much the same thing as what the character is going through on the page In fact, when I’m drawing and if you look at me, I’m like making the same faces as the characters and I’m feeling all this emotion If it’s a memoir, I’m like remembering everything that happened to me and I’ll be like really depressed like, damn, my friends are so mean to me, but then you finish the book and you feel great So it’s kind of like living to it all over again but then I felt better when I was done >> Did you and your sister really fight as much as in “Sisters”? >> Raina Telgemeier: Do you have a sister? >> Yes >> Raina Telgemeier: How much do you guys fight? >> I have three sisters >> Raina Telgemeier: And do you guys fight as much as the characters in the story? >> Yes >> Raina Telgemeier: Then yeah Sisters have a way Hi >> So in your book “Ghosts,” you had the little sister who had cystic fibrosis And my cousin has cystic fibrosis and not many people know about it So I was wondering how did you like find out about cystic fibrosis and stuff >> Raina Telgemeier: I have a friend whose cousin has cystic fibrosis and systematically, it worked really well with the story because the story is about a girl who can’t breathe and her sister who has anxiety and the sister has to be reminded sometimes to like OK and it’s Maya who’s telling her to stop and breathe And then ghosts, and of course this is fiction so I had to make my own mythology up here It’s like, well, ghosts can’t breathe either So Maya finds that she has something in common with the ghosts But ghosts absorb the world around them and that becomes their breath and I think Maya kind of breathes emotionally for a lot of people Hi >> Hi. So, how did your friends and family react to “Smile” like how you portrayed them in it? >> Raina Telgemeier: My dad will be like, “That’s not what happened.” But the thing is like it’s my memories and since I’m the one that’s writing the story– I sometimes confer with my family on specific details, but every person is going to remember it and say it a little bit differently So, we get a jest of it, right? And what I like to tell people is that even if the facts aren’t 100% true, what you remember and your emotions about that thing are always true >> Would you ever consider animating movie from your books? >> Raina Telgemeier: I don’t know how to animate So if somebody else wanted to do it, if anybody in this room is an animator and wants to animate it, we can talk afterwards That’d be amazing >> Did any of the old friends that you have that you wrote about in “Smile,” did any of them realize that it was about them and talk to you about it? >> Raina Telgemeier: Yes I’ve gotten letters of apology from a few of them Some of them didn’t realize it was them though which is really awkward because we’re still like Facebook friends and stuff Hi >> Hi. Well, first, thank you for inviting me up for the excerpt >> Raina Telgemeier: You’re amazing >> Thank you And for my question, at the end of “Ghosts” you said that you were at the Day of the Dead celebration and did you actually see ghosts like Cat did in the book? >> Raina Telgemeier: No, I did not actually see ghosts This is a fictional story You can imagine them being there for sure >> OK. Is it fun? >> Raina Telgemeier: Absolutely It’s fun but it’s also a really respectful celebration where people are all there for their own reasons but you’re experiencing it together So, I was not sad but I felt all of these sort of togetherness and a lot of emotion from all the people around me So in fact, the scene that’s in the book, I waited until after I had been to that celebration to draw it because I wanted to capture my own experiences there So you know how Cat’s in the story and she’s just like “Whoa!” >> That makes perfect sense >> Raina Telgemeier: That’s how I felt Well, thanks >> Interesting >> Raina Telgemeier: Oh, thanks Hi >> Hi. So I was wondering, if you were like any kind of food that is grown up that you make, but if you were a food that was grown what kind of food would you be? >> Raina Telgemeier: Food Oh, I can’t say pizza, can I? >> No >> Raina Telgemeier: Asparagus >> OK >> Raina Telgemeier: It’s like some people’s most hated vegetable but I love it >> OK. Thank you >> Raina Telgemeier: Hi >> What was your favorite thing when you were a Girl Scout? >> Raina Telgemeier: About the Girl Scouts? >> Yeah >> Raina Telgemeier: Can you guess? >> Cookies? >> Raina Telgemeier: Yup Definitely Hi >> What was the most inspiring comic you read as a kid? >> Raina Telgemeier: Oh, men, I mean “For Better or For Worse,” “Calvin and Hobbes,” “Luann,” “FoxTrot,” “Bizarro,” “Dennis the Menace.”

I didn’t read “Peanuts” until I was a little older but I find that to be very inspiring too And then I started reading indie comics like “Bone” and that one inspired the heck out of me Hi >> Do you and Amara still get along or do you get along? >> Raina Telgemeier: We don’t live in the same city anymore, so we get along great Actually we do, we get along really well now I see now how much we have in common Hi >> When you’re drawing your comics, what’s the hardest detail you have to do? >> Raina Telgemeier: Cars Cars are hard to draw and that’s why I don’t like to write too many comics Wait, I did write a comic about being on a road trip, what was I thinking? I don’t draw comics about horses There’s a reason for that Hi >> Is it a stressful or a happy progress when you’re making the comics? >> Raina Telgemeier: It can be both Mostly, it’s fun but it’s like any other job You really do have to show up and put in a lot of hours every day and my hand gets tired That’s one of the most stressful parts And also, sometimes, if I’m trying to like think of how a story ends and I can’t do it, I’m just like, oh no, what am I going to do? But then, you know, you run of time and you just go with whatever comes up in your brain >> Hi >> Raina Telgemeier: Hi >> When you finish one of your graphic novels, do you ever celebrate or like rejoice or anything? >> Raina Telgemeier: I had an orange soda when I finished “Ghosts.” You are jumping up and down >> How do you think of names for people who didn’t really exist? >> Raina Telgemeier: That’s a good question Catrina is named after La Catrina which is an illustration of a skeleton lady that was done by a guy named Posada and so she’s actually a very famous paint or image And then Maya’s name comes from– I’ve met a lot of kids named Maya and they’re always kind of like cute They’re usually jumping up and down And I just think Maya is an awesome name And Callie comes from the State of California, which is really embarrassing I don’t know if the adults will notice this song “Going Back To Cali” by LL Cool J. I was– When I was brainstorming that book, I was in the car like driving around my parents’ neighborhood and that song came on the radio and I was like that’s it, her name is Callie >> Are you going to write any more books about your life? >> Raina Telgemeier: Well, the next one I’m working on is definitely going to be about life And then the two after that that I have contracted, I can’t talk too much about right now, but I do have three more books that are going to be coming out from Scholastic in the next six years So at least one will be a memoir Yeah [ Applause ] See you guys in 2022 Hi >> What happens when you get writer’s block? >> Raina Telgemeier: Good question Probably the same thing that happens when you get writer’s block, you’re just like what am I going to do? So sometimes I just try to step away from my desk for a while So I go to the beach or I go hiking in the mountains or I get in my car and I drive around and I listen to LL Cool J. But you know what, inspiration is everywhere and you’ll never know when something is going to inspire you So, I try to read a lot of books, I try to watch a lot of TV and movies, I try to meet lots of people and go lots of places and things inspire me everywhere >> Good to know >> Are you afraid of ghosts? >> Raina Telgemeier: I don’t know if I believe that ghosts exist So it’s hard to be afraid of something that doesn’t exist Yeah. If I knew they did exist, I’d be extremely afraid of them That’s why they look like snakes Did you notice the– so maybe there’s a connection there Hi >> How much books have you wrote? >> Raina Telgemeier: I’ve written eight books That’s four “Baby-Sitters Club” books and then “Smile,” “Drama,” “Sisters,” and, wait, “Ghosts.” Did I say that one? Yeah, eight books total >> That’s a lot >> Raina Telgemeier: Thank you, thank you Hi >> Do you ever write out the script of what people are saying before you draw the comics? >> Raina Telgemeier: Sometimes I do, sometimes I will sit down and type out dialog just because I can hear it in my head faster than I can draw it But for the most part, like I showed you guys, my scripts are thumbnails So they are just sort of the grid of different panels and then the characters’ heads almost need to be there sometimes before I could figure out what’s coming out of their mouths I need to see it in order to be able to hear it But yes, I do have a notebook and I’m always listening to people taking around me and just the way that people talk sometimes gives me ideas So, you never know guys >> Thank you >> Raina Telgemeier: Sure Hi >> Other than in “Smile” and “Sisters,” which character in your book represents you the best? >> Raina Telgemeier: So you mean in my memoirs or in my fictional work? >> In your fictional work

>> Raina Telgemeier: Well, Callie is a little bit like me but she’s kind of more like who I wish I was, like she is great at getting an idea and then seeing it all the way to completion And then Cat and I share anxiety So, she is a lot– she’s worried about stuff a lot and I admit that I am, too, but I’m trying to work on getting better about that >> Thank you >> What inspired you to write about your family? >> Raina Telgemeier: Them We have so many stories and I mean the reason I started writing about my life was I have this horrible dental accident when I was 11 and it was a story I was telling people constantly So people would be like, “What happened to your teeth,” and I’d be like, “Let me tell you what happened on my teeth.” And then as I got older, the fake teeth that I had in my mouth started to turn a little bit gray so sometimes people are like, “What’s wrong with the teeth in front of your mouth? They look different.” So I had to explain and every time I saw a different dentist, I had to explain and I was like I have explained this story so may times, what if I just like wrote the whole thing down? Yeah. That way, I wouldn’t have to explain it so much So I did. I just wrote my story down and I realized that it’s a great way to sort of deal with your memories and like stuff that’s troubling you even You can write it down and then you feel better about it afterwards, so >> Thank you >> Raina Telgemeier: Sure >> Hi >> Raina Telgemeier: Hi >> If you’re like writing a story about your true life then if you’re trying to remember what they’re saying, do you have to like write the exact thing or do you just like make it up if you don’t remember but you have a general idea of what they said? >> Raina Telgemeier: Yes That’s exactly what I do There is no way I could possibly remember the exact words that we said to each other Although, I mean you guys have access, I’m sure, to like videos that your parents have been taking since you’re a little kid, right? And I have just a few of those I only have one video of myself as a kid because my grandfather had this big video camera It’s like five minutes of video of me in my entire childhood But I have a lot of photographs and that’s how the writer brain works is you’re just like I can imagine what we were saying to each other when we were young >> Oh, OK Thanks >> Raina Telgemeier: Sure >> Do you plan on writing any sequels to any of your books like “Ghosts” or “Drama”? >> Raina Telgemeier: Sequels are tricky, and I’m not somebody who thinks in terms of series I’m really somebody who thinks in terms of individual stories So, I feel like I say everything I want to say about the characters and their lives and their situations before the last page is turned I don’t like the idea of cliffhangers But that’s not to say that I would never write a story that had the same characters So you know how “Smile” and “Sisters” are companion books but it’s not like exactly what happened next There’s always a possibility that I could do that with one of my other stories too >> OK. Thanks >> Raina Telgemeier: Like Callie in high school Oh man, that is so cool Somebody asked me today if Callie would be a Hamilton fan and I was like Callie would be like tweeting at Lin-Manuel like on a constant daily basis trying to get him to like come to her school and hang out with her >> What is your favorite thing about Amara? >> Raina Telgemeier: No one’s ever asked me that question before, but I never had to think about it before, so She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met She’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever met And she’s a really good friend to her friends She cares about her friends more than just about anything So, there’s a lot I admire about my sister >> Thanks >> Will you ever make any movies about “Smile,” “Sisters,” “Drama,” and everything? >> Raina Telgemeier: Well, I’m not a filmmaker So, if anybody here is a filmmaker and they want to talk to me afterwards, that’s fine I would love that That’d be awesome You should become a filmmaker, how about that? >> That’s my dream >> Raina Telgemeier: Awesome OK. We’ll talk afterwards, handshakes and business cards I love this Hi >> Hi. My parents said I might get braces soon Do you have any like advice about that? >> Raina Telgemeier: If it’s OK with your parents, just take some pain reliever before you go and then ask if they’ll get you a milkshake when it’s all over It’s really not that bad And my situation was extremely unusual I had a big accident so, of course, my dentistry work was going to be a little bit more extreme than most people’s Most people, and you guys can confirm this, it’s like you’re sore for a few days and you kind of have to get used to it but then you do and then it’s just kind of normal part of your mouth >> Thanks >> Hello. I just– when I was standing, I have this weird idea for a question You should write a book about how you are now, like because– like your fans and everything If you are [inaudible] with me, they also want to– [ Laughter ] I also would like to bring out how much I enjoyed your book “Ghosts” because I feel like sort of like me and my sister I’m just full of energy and she’s not [ Laughter ] >> Raina Telgemeier: Oh men, I can relate to that Thanks >> Yeah >> Raina Telgemeier: Thank you >> You’re welcome

>> Raina Telgemeier: Well, there’s not much to say except thanks Hi >> Have you ever thought about writing a book when you first published your first comic? >> Raina Telgemeier: Oh, yes, I did think about that And I might be reading about that at some point in the near future >> OK >> What would you be if you couldn’t be an author? >> Raina Telgemeier: I have no idea to be honest But this is kind of a shout out and it’s also kind of something I’ve realized is that I work with people called publicists at my publisher, Scholastic They are people whose job is to plan out where authors are going to go and then make sure there’s like a car to get them there and they like book my flights and then they talk to all the people at the bookstores about like the logistics and stuff and that person is a publicist and it’s their job to make authors’ lives easier when they go out on stage, the National Book Festival and stuff like this So my amazing publicist is named Sheila Marie and she’s here She’s the one who took the picture And Scholastic has really, really great support So, I think it would actually be fun to do that job because I love writing emails to people and I love looking at maps and I love like booking hotel rooms and stuff So I’m like, oh, that’d be so fun They work super hard though So, yeah, maybe a publicist, I don’t know >> Thank you >> Raina Telgemeier: For other authors I don’t have to be in this spotlight That’s the thing Hi >> So, in “Ghosts,” Cat is superstitious about the black cat Did you get the superstitiousness from you or somebody else? >> Raina Telgemeier: It’s sort of a common superstition that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck And because her name is Cat, I think she has this idea that she’s bad luck too in some way So, yeah, I was working with certain common superstitions but I was just also creating her as a unique character So, can I do one more question? OK, we can do one more question I’m so sorry, guys >> What is– What do you think the easiest thing to draw is? >> This is going to sound really lame when I answer this question The easiest thing for me to draw is me But I think that’s because I look at the mirror every single day and I’m used to the shape of my face and I’ve been drawing stories about my life since I was six years old So, it’s gotten to be very easy for me to do that but I when I have to draw like a new character, I’m like, whoa, this is really difficult and challenging But the more times you draw a character, the easy it get– easier it gets So, yeah. All right Thank you, guys, so much [ Applause ] And thanks to the National Book Festival for having me as a guest [ Applause ] >> This has been a presentation of the Library of Congress Visit us at loc.gov