For those of you who will be in New York over the weekend, join us on Saturday for Kids Fest! Time Out New York Kids teams up with the Madison Square Park Conservancy for this annual outdoor fair chock-full of art activities, face painting, live animals, tasty treats (courtesy of Whole Foods) and more.

At 12:30, look for TOON associate Leigh Stein in a Penny princess cap. She will be reading from TOON titles Benny and Penny by Geoffrey Hayes, Silly Lilly by Agnès Rosenstiehl, and the forthcoming Stinky by Eleanor Davis.

 
 

The Australian runs a new interview with Shaun Tan, who discusses the success of The Arrival and his latest picture book project, Tales From Outer Suburbia.

Tales marks a return by Tan to illustrated prose: The Arrival, an international bestseller and literary prize magnet, was a graphic novel that did not contain a single word.

It caused a stir when it won book of the year — becoming the first graphic novel to do so — in last year’s NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. It provoked consternation when Tan was asked to give a reading at the Sydney Writers Festival. Tan notes that France has taken to his entirely visual narrative with far less ambivalence: The Arrival has sold more than 40,000 copies there and hasn’t been narrowly defined as a children’s book.

 
 

Ex-kids in this blog’s audience may recall the Wacky Packages series of stickers produced by Topps. Abrams has recently published a retrospective volume reprinting the first seven series of cards. The book features an introduction by Art Spiegelman, a prime mover behind the project during his years as a creative consultant at Topps. The book includes a “bonus pack of four rare and never-before-printed Wacky Packages stickers.”

 
 

Drawn and Quarterly has posted follow-up information to indicate that the publisher’s previously announced plans to reprint comic book work by John Stanley have expanded to include Stanley’s Nancy and Sluggo comic book stories. Tom Devlin writes:

This series will likely begin next summer; it is undetermined at this time just how many volumes there will be in total. These comics came as something as a surprise to me because I just assumed that there was no way they could be as good as the great Bushmiller strips but they really are. Stanley actually expanded the cast of the strip and added a couple of great characters, the Wednesday Addams inspired Oona Goosepimple and Sluggo’s nemesis, Mr. McOnion.

Elsewhere, comics scholar Jeet Heer greets the news by arguing that Stanley is a better writer of comics than the acclaimed and more well-known Carl Barks.

 
 

TOON Books looks forward to attending this weekend’s BookExpo America at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Our books will be on display at Diamond Book Distributors’ booth #4700 and TOON Books principles will participate in the event’s robust slate of comics-related programming.

On Friday at 2:00 pm, TOON Books Series Advisor Art Spiegelman will sign posters for his upcoming book BREAKDOWNS at the Knopf Booth #1130

The BEA’s Graphic Novel Breakfast will take place Saturday morning at 8:00 am. The event, hosted by Jeff Smith, will also include Art Spiegelman, Jeph Loeb and Mike Mignola. Room 403AB.

After the breakfast, BEA attendees are welcome to watch Art Spiegelman’s interview with Daniel Pink for his podcast Upfront & Unscripted at 10:00 am in Room 405.

Art will be giving a BREAKDOWNS presentation later that afternoon, at 2:00 pm, in room 410.

TOON Books Editorial Director Françoise Mouly is on the panel for Building a Graphic Novel Section for Kids and Teens, moderated by Janna Morishima, director of Diamond Kids. Ms. Mouly, as well as panelists Kristen McLean, executive direction of the Association of Booksellers for Children, and Eva Volin, director of children’s services at Alameda Free Library, CA, will discuss how to expand your GN section. 2:30 pm Saturday, Room 406A

At 4:00, Ms. Mouly will participate in an additional panel titled “The New Literacy: How Graphic Novels, the Web, and Video Games are Changing the Way We Process Information.” Other panelists will include John Shableski, Gene Yang, Rex Sorgatz and Dr. Michael Bitz.

And don’t miss the Diamond Book Distributor cocktail reception, sponsored by Marvel, DC, Raw Junior, and Dark Horse, among others. 4:00pm at the Diamond Booth #4700.

 
 

The Highlights for Kids website includes an extensive archive of Timbertoes comic strips from that magazine’s pages. Wikipedia details the stip’s history:

Created for a 1932 book of the same name (published by The Harter Publishing Company) by writers Edna M. Aldredge and Jessie F. McKee along with illustrator John Gee, The Timbertoes has appeared in Highlights magazine for over 30 years. The first Highlights incarnation was a full-page black and white comic strip featuring line-drawn characters, later switching to digital color in 2003. The Timbertoes family consists of parents Ma and Pa and their children Mabel and Tommy. The characters, including their pet dog Spot and their pet cat Splinter, are depicted as being constructed from wood. Upon Gee’s passing, Highlights Senior Editor Marileta Robinson took over writing the strip, with illustrations done by Judith Hunt and Ron Zalme.

 
 

Sean Kleefeld posts an article about 1940s funny animal cartoonist and comics editor Vince Fago’s Pendulum Press, a 1970s Classics Illustrated-style publishing imprint devoted to comics adaptations of canonical Western literature for young audiences. Fago “scripted most of the books himself, adapting and abridging the originals as closely as possible given page limitations, and then got talented ‘newcomers’ like Nestor Redondo to illustrate them,” Kleefeld writes. He further notes that the series was repackaged in the 1990s as a series of “prestige format” comics albums. More recently, work from Fago’s series has been folded into the current Graphic Classics series alongside work by contemporary cartoonists including Rick Geary and Richard Sala.

 
 

Publishers Weekly interviews Brenda Bowen about plans to publish comics as part of Bowen Books, her new children’s book imprint at HarperCollins. Bowen had previously been an editor at Hyperion, where she established a publishing relationship with the Center for Cartoon Studies, among other projects. “Bowen has plans for a graphic novel based on one of the most famous Civil War battles (Jan. 2009), a kids’ picture book by cartoonist Lynn Johnston (summer 2009) and a new graphic novel based on the work of New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr,” PW reports. Bowen adds: “I’ve also just signed a novel in comics called Herbert’s Wormhole, written by Peter Nelson and illustrated by Ro Rao. It’s a funny book for children eight to 11 years old, about a kid who creates what Einstein only imagines—a wormhole that bores down to the future.”

 
 

The Times reports that children’s fantasy author Philip Pullman will write a new comic strip called “The Adventures of John Blake” for the DFC, a forthcoming weekly subscription-based British comic book for children launched by David Fickling. Pullman, well known as the author of the His Dark Materials series, notes that he was “brought up on comics like the Eagle, Wizard and Beano, though not so much Dandy. This is what I want to bring back to today’s youngsters – good storytelling, but with more adventurous and original illustrations.” The strip will be drawn by John Aggs in a “Japanese-influenced” style.

Although Pullman intends to return to novel writing next year with a children’s story called The Book of Dust, he is likely to retain his interest in the illustrated comic form. “Yes, I might do a graphic novel myself after that,” he said.

 
 

Photo: AFP

The Centre Pompidou has acquired a page from Hergé’s The Calculus Affair, the Telegraph reports. “The strip’s inclusion was described as revolutionary by curator Laurent Le Bon, the first to point out that the centre’s 60,000 works failed to include a single comic strip, despite France’s flourishing comic art culture. ” The Tintin.com website shows a small image of the page acquired by the museum. As the Telegraph piece notes, the Centre mounted an exhibit of Hergé’s work in late 2006 to mark the centennial of the artist’s birth.