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Comics Panels announced for LA Times Festival of Books

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books has announced the program schedule for the event’s weekend of April 21 and 22. Most of the panels and presentations related to comics and graphic novels are front-loaded on Saturday, with some competing against each other in the early afternoon. While the scheduling congestion is unfortunate, it’s indicative of the growing star power of comics at the Festival to get such premium placement.

Highlights include a moderated conversation with Robert Kirkman, writer and co-creator of The Walking Dead comic book series, and an appearance by Jeff Kinney of Diary of a Wimpy Kid fame on the Children’s Stage. DC Entertainment will also hold a panel with co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee to talk up their controversial prequel comics to the acclaimed Watchmen graphic novel, followed by a screening of the movie adaptation. Almost simultaneously there is a discussion panel called Drawing Outside the Lines, featuring acclaimed graphic novel writers and artists Joseph Lambert (I Will Bite You!), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), and Jim Woodring (Weathercraft), a trio of unique creators who write and draw their own work on their own terms. That panel is moderated by the LA Times’ Deborah Vankin who also wrote the graphic novel Poseurs. The last event for Saturday is a panel on Mythic Stories that features writers Ed Brubaker (Criminal), Adam Mansbach (Go the F**k to Sleep, Nature of the Beast) and Douglas McGowan (Nature of the Beast), with moderator Leslie S. Klinger (The Annotated Sandman). A fourth writer is TBD. The weekend ends with two screenings of the feature-length documentary, With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story.

While admission to the Festival is free, the limited seating of indoor panels requires the necessity of tickets, which go on sale April 15 at 9:00 am. A limited number of tickets will also be for sale during the Festival at booth #463. Panel passes, which reserve 8 tickets per pass, can be purchased now for $30. Tickets for the 32nd Annual LA Times Book Prizes Ceremony, happening the Friday night before the Festival, are also now on sale for $10.

Saturday

10:30 am – Robert Kirkman in Conversation with Geoff Boucher (Panel 1121)
Ronald Tutor Campus Center

12:55 pm – Jeff Kinney, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever
Target Children’s Stage

1:00 pm – DC Entertainment Presents: Watchmen — It’s Not the End, It’s the Beginning.
A Conversation with Jim Lee and Dan Didio, moderated by Geoff Boucher
2:00 pm – Watchmen Screening
School for Cinematic Arts

1:30 pm – Graphic Novel: Drawing outside the Lines (Panel 1113)
Joseph Lambert
Carla Speed McNeil
Jim Woodring
Moderator: Deborah Vankin
Taper Hall (THH 101)

3:30 pm – Graphic Novel: Mythic Stories (Panel 1044)
Ed Brubaker
Adam Mansbach
Douglas McGowan
TBD
Moderator: Leslie S. Klinger
Salvatori Computer Science Center (SAL 101)

Sunday

11:00 am & 3:00 pm – “With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story” screening, presented by EPIX
Located in the Ray Stark Theater
School for Cinematic Arts

LA Times Book Prize Finalist Spotlight: I Will Bite You! by Joseph Lambert

The Los Angeles Times Book Prizes are a set of awards for excellence in literature held annually since 1980. They are given to books published in the United States within the previous calendar year by a living author(s). Winners receive a citation and $500 for each category. The finalists for each category were announced recently, and the Graphic Novel category, the newest to be added to the prestigious prizes, has an impressive line-up. The Comics Observer looks at each Graphic Novel finalist in the build-up to the award ceremony April 20.

I Will Bite You! And Other Stories by Joseph Lambert

Joseph Lambert‘s debut graphic novel I Will Bite You! And Other Stories (published by Secret Acres) presents a set of short stories from a rising star exploring childlike perspectives. It has won the 2011 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Collection and Outstanding Artist. Some of the work originally appeared in mini-comics created and/or edited by Lambert. The Comics Journal‘s Rob Clough has named some of those mini-comics the best of 2010 (#21: Everyday) and 2011 (#4: Sundays: Forever Changes, #13: Too Far, #14: Kids). Lambert has also been recognized in several editions of the annual America’s Best Comics anthology, and was spotlighted by its editor Jessica Abel here. He’s a 2008 graduate of the Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, where some of his short stories were published in the local alt weekly newspaper Seven Days.

Despite all of that, Lambert is almost definitely the most obscure pick among this year’s Graphic Novel finalists. Because most of his work has appeared in mini-comics until now, he’s under a lot of people’s radar. So this could be a significant win for someone so new to the game. It could also give a nice promotional push for his upcoming release Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, a graphic novella aimed at younger readers.

He’s an exciting newcomer that almost surely has his best work ahead of him based on the promise he’s exhibited so far. And that’s no slight on the work in I Will Bite You! or any of his other current material. His sublime illustrations are unafraid to play with colors, form and the narrative convention of comics without losing any appeal and accessibility. Just check out his stunning use of colors and childlike discovery in the story Fall, available to read online for free at that link.

Two-page scan from The Comix Cube, which included I Will Bite You! on its Best of 2011 list.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books 2012 announces Graphic Novel Finalists for Book Prize

The LA Times Festival of Books is ramping up for this year’s event, one of the country’s largest free outdoor book fairs. Last week, a press release announced the finalists for the 32nd Annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, which are given out on the eve of the Festival. Last Friday, the Festival’s website and social media once again came to life to announce that the 17th Annual Festival of Books will be held April 21 and 22 on the campus of the University of Southern California. The Book Prizes award ceremony will be held in USC’s Bovard Auditorium on Friday night, April 20.

The LA Times Book Prizes have been awarded every year since 1980, but it wasn’t until 2009 that a graphic novel category was added. This third year of the graphic novel category has the following five finalists:

  1. I Will Bite You! And Other Stories by Joseph Lambert (Secret Acres Books)
  2. Celluloid by Dave McKean (Fantagraphics Books)
  3. Finder: Voice by Carla Speed McNeil (Dark Horse Comics)
  4. Congress of the Animals by Jim Woodring (Fantagraphics Books)
  5. Garden by Yuichi Yokoyama (PictureBox)

Finalists and winners of the LA Times Book Prizes are selected by a panel of three judges per genre. The panels are made up of writers who specialize in each genre. Tickets for the Book Prizes ceremony will be available for purchase at 10 a.m. Monday, March 26. Once again Geoff Boucher of the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog will be presenting the Book Prize for the Graphic Novel category. Look for more on each of the finalists here at The Comics Observer in the weeks and months leading up to the ceremony.

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books began in 1996 and typically attracts about 140,000 people every year. Just as comics and graphic novels have been embraced by libraries and book stores over the last decade, so too has their presence increased at the Festival. This year will surely include plenty of writers, artists and other comics creators and publishers. A list of authors attending the Festival has already been posted and will be updated as more are confirmed. Already spotted are writers Cecil Castellucci (The Plain Janes and the upcoming The Year of the Beasts) and Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), and writer/artist Jim Woodring (Congress of the Animals, Weathercraft)

Read here for a look at last year’s Festival of Books.

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