This month Françoise Mouly, the mastermind behind TOON Books, is all over the news with in-depth interviews, feature stories, and reviews for the recently released biography by Jeet Heer, "In Love with Art: Françoise Mouly's Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman."
Even for those of us who work with her every day, we keep gaining new insights into her life, career, family, interests, and passions. Enjoy!
Françoise Mouly - Photo by Sarah Shatz
| || |I am so excited to introduce you to Françoise Mouly today! You might know her work as the art director of The New Yorker, but she’s also the founder and publisher of TOON Books, a collection of comics and graphic novels for early readers. Her vision for kids having access to well-designed comics is innovative and inspiring. It’s magical! And radical! On top of that, she’s a mom doing a fantastic job of infusing her career with the needs of her kids. What an honor to bring her words to you today. -- Gabrielle Blair, Design Mom Read the interview >>
Los Angeles Review of Books
| |FRANÇOISE MOULY is the art editor of
The New Yorker, the editorial director of Toon Books (which publishes kids’ books by comic-strip artists), and the co-founder with her husband Art Spiegelman of
RAW magazine. I interviewed Mouly on the occasion of the publication of
In Love With Art: Françoise Mouly’s Adventures in Comics with Art Spiegelman (Coach House Books) by Jeet Heer, who notes in his preface that he wrote this book to repair a sexist mistake he made in 2004. In an article he wrote about Spiegelman for the
National Post,Heer decided to mention Mouly only in passing: “Leaving Mouly aside for a second,” he wrote, “it is easy to see that Spiegelman’s editing is an outgrowth of his intense historical consciousness, his awareness of how comics have evolved and where they need to go.” Heer’s partner challenged him: “Why should Mouly be left aside?” To redress his omission, Heer wrote a whole book about her. -- Sarah Boxer, Los Angeles Review of Books Read the interview >>
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Françoise Mouly is featured for the "Meeting" feature of the first issue of a brand new UK magazine, Riposte
is a smart magazine for women. We're a new magazine which offers intelligent content and inspirational women in a beautifully designed format. We profile bold and fascinating women whose achievements speak for themselves. Our interviews are honest rather than being full of media trained responses, as the women we feature candidly discuss their successes, failures, work and passions. -- Pre-order Your Copy >>
Order your copy today!
The eminence française or "powerful influence" behind scads of well-known cartoonists is Paris-born and New York-based writer and artist Françoise Mouly (Best American Comics 2012). Mouly is known primarily through her partnership with superfamous husband and cartoonist Art Spiegelman; however, Heer (editor, Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium) points out that in her innovation, creativity, initiative and advocacy over many decades, she has dramatically influenced comics and comics artists in her own right. Originally trained in architecture, Mouly was drawn to graphic narrative through Spiegelman and pushed him into coediting the comics magazine Raw between 1980 and 1991. Her work in Raw led to her current 20-year tenure as art editor of The New Yorker. In addition, Mouly recently established TOON Books to bring comics for the youngest readers back on the market.
VERDICT: Heer's detailed biography fills a glaring omission in histories of graphic narrative. Dozens of illustrations give face to Mouly's accomplishments yet are still not enough. This lively portrait of an editor and publisher par excellence will enlighten researchers, cartooning cognoscenti, and casual fans. Essential for serious art, graphic novels, and women's studies collections.
– Martha Cornog, Library Journal
| |I met Françoise Mouly once, at the San Diego Comic-Con during its C Street days, when RAW was in full swing. She told me that I was the only reviewer who included her as the co-editor of the magazine. This puffed me up no little, but the main reason was probably less personal enlightenment then that I was coming off a humiliating series of factual errors in print and was being careful about these things. Other than the assumption that her name was on the cover for a reason, I wouldn’t at the time have been 100% clear on what Mouly’s contribution was. The problem is presented on the very title of the attractive little tome under discussion, which intends to redress the balance and yet bows to the utter commercial necessity of tying the product into the more popularly known Art Spiegelman. -- R. Fiore, The Comics Journal Read the Review >> | |Jeet Heer is one of our best writers about comics, and it is to our great benefit that he's also a prolific one. I wanted to talk to him about two of his latest. The first isThe Superhero Reader, which he co-edited with Charles Hatfield and Kent Worcester. That is a collection of essays about that genre designed for use in classrooms, from three very good writers about the art form. The second book is In Love With Art, an enthusiastic biography of the crucially influential editor, art director and publisher Francoise Mouly. Both books are quite good, and I think the Mouly one in particular could be read by anyone with even a passing interest in comics. For anyone with more than a passing interest, it should be read. It'd be a great travel book, for anyone so inclined: it's not massive, but it's dense, and Heer's prose is very pleasurable. -- Tom Spurgeon, The Comics Journal Read the Interview with Jeet Heer >>
Françoise Mouly - Photo by Sarah Shatz
The decision from Françoise Mouly:
Thank you to everyone for reading and giving thought to Neil Gaiman's compelling lecture on the importance of reading and libraries for young people (if you missed it, click here
!). I so enjoyed reading through your comments and hearing about your favorite quotes and
why. Special congratulations to Helena Juhasz who submitted this post and is winner of the TOON Books New Releases Hardcover Gift Set
Helena's Favorite Neil Gaiman Quote: "I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, over twenty years before the kindle turned up, a physical book is like a shark ... sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is."
Helena's Reason Why: This quote is spot on!! There's nothing like the tactile experience of reading a dog eared book on the beach, blowing sand out from between the pages, closely inspecting the printed lines and imagining how the artist created the illustrations, delicately propping up the book in the bathtub or curling up with the book while under the covers - or under the stars (with a flashlight). They require no power other than our dedicated attention. Long live the book!
I so share Helena's view and it reminds me of something I said in a recent interview on Design Mom
that I'd like to share again with you here. One of the artists I work with, Frank Cammuso, pointed out that he can’t pull out an iPad at bedtime with his three-year old. An iPad is a window on an endless stream of excitement; it’s not a place to focus and prepare for sleep and dreams. But a book is! A book can be read every night and it will always be the same and different. It will be what your Dad read when he was a kid, and what you’ll read to your children. It has some elements that don’t change yet it’s a new adventure every time you reread it, because reading is truly interactive and the reader is half the story. All day long, I spend my days on a computer, making and manipulating images, reading and writing emails, finding information. A computer is a good tool, a means to an end, but spending so much time online makes me very aware of how special and valuable any ‘old media’ is, anything that is printed, frozen, preserved in one form, fossilized. It’s there to be interpreted. Every time you spend time with it, it remains the same yet it becomes something more. Whenever I hear from people who say that Silly Lilly, Benjamin Bear, A Trip to The Bottom of the World, or any of the TOON Books has become their child’s favorite book, read night after night, I feel hopeful for the future.
More good news...Everyone is a winner!
If you submitted a comment to the TOON's Gaiman Blog Post
by November 18th, TOON Books would like to send you a complimentary copy of Liniers' The Big Wet Balloon
. In the spirit of Gaiman's lecture, we ask that if you don't have a child at your own home who can enjoy the book, please consider donating it to your local library or to a holiday gift drive for children in need.
| |Just send me your mailing address to email@example.com by November 25th. Be sure to also include the username you used to post your comment.
Gaiman Delivers Compelling Lecture on the Importance of Reading and Libraries for Young People
Here at TOON Books our mission is to create quality comics that children will want to read. Last week Neil Gaiman, the award-winning author of short fiction, novels, comics, and graphic novels, delivered a "spot on" lecture at The Reading Agency. He reminded us in no uncertain terms of our obligation to young readers: "We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading...We have an obligation not to preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our readers' throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots; and we have an obligation never, ever, under any circumstances, to write anything for children to read that we would not want to read ourselves."
Neil Gaiman speaking at The Reading Agency. Photo by Robin Mayes.
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ON READING FOR PLEASURE...
"The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them."
"Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child's love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian "improving" literature. You'll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant."
"I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing."
ON COMICS AND CHOICE...
"Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy. It's tosh. It's snobbery and it's foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you."
"Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you've never been. Once you've visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different."
| || |ON PHYSICAL BOOKS...
"I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, over twenty years before the kindle turned up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them."
ON SUPPORTING LIBRARIES...
"But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information."
"Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open."
"We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future."
"Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I'm going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It's this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on.This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things. They daydreamed, they pondered, they made things that didn't quite work, they described things that didn't yet exist to people who laughed at them."
"We all - adults and children, writers and readers - have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different."
WIN A HARDCOVER GIFT SET!
Just post a comment about your favorite Neil Gaiman quote and tell us why!
Beloved Argentine cartoonist to read to bilingual students at elementary schools in Washington DC & New York
TOON Books is delighted to present beloved Argentine cartoonist Liniers at public schools to meet with bilingual students and talk about his US debut of The Big Wet Balloon
. In addition to hearing Liniers read his book and talk about cartooning, students can expect to see some live painting!
According to TOON's Editorial Director Françoise Mouly, "Ricardo has such a wonderful presence: warm, funny, wildly creative—Anyone would love to spend an hour with him. And meeting an author is a great thrill for kids. It's so important for children to have the opportunity to associate real people with the books they love. We are especially thankful to An Open Book Children's Literacy Foundation
, the New York State Association for Bilingual Educators
(NYSABE) and The City College of New York
for making these school visits possible."
Monday September 16th at 2:00pm
HD Cooke Elementary School
2525 17th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
In partnership with:
Wednesday September 18th at 1:00pm
PS 112 Jose Celso Barbosa School
535 E 119th St
New York, NY 10035
This visit will be with 1st and 2nd graders in bilingual classrooms.
In partnership with:
by Julia Phillips — Illustrations by Barry Blitt
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"Comics are more than just illustrated books, but rather make use of a multi-modal language that blends words, pictures, facial expressions, panel-to-panel progression, color, sound effects and more to engage readers in a compelling narrative."
—Stanford Professor Emerita Barbara Tversky
When first drafting our mission statement
in 2008, we turned to one of our advisors, Stanford Professor Emerita Barbara Tversky, for the best explanation possible of how comics teach kids. Professor Tversky puts it so well: “Comics use a broad range of sophisticated devices for communication," she told us. "They are similar to face-to-face interactions, in which meaning is derived not solely from words, but also from gestures, intonation, facial expressions and props. Comics are more than just illustrated books, but rather make use of a multi-modal language that blends words, pictures, facial expressions, panel-to-panel progression, color, sound effects and more to engage readers in a compelling narrative." Five years later, study after study has come out extolling the virtues of comics as a teaching tool. All we can think is...we told you so!
"Comic books have been shown to be useful for beginning readers, since the reduced text makes the language manageable for new readers. Comics are especially useful for improving reading development among second-language learners and children with learning difficulties."
—The Canadian Council of Learning
The Canadian Council of Learning
has gathered definitive research showing that readers who love comics also tend to read more text-based material and report enjoying reading more than their peers who don't pick up comic books. Reports the CCL, "Comic books allow children to develop many of the same skills as reading text-based books such as connecting narratives to children’s own experiences, predicting what will happen next and inferring what happens between individual panels. Even before children are ready to read text, comic books can give them practice in making meaning from material printed on a page, tracking left to right and top to bottom, interpreting symbols, and following the sequence of events in a story. Comic books have been shown to be useful for beginning readers, since the reduced text makes the language manageable for new readers. Comics expand children’s vocabulary by giving contexts to words that the child would not normally have been exposed to."
Comics, the CCL goes on to say, are especially useful for improving reading development among second-language learners and children with learning difficulties. (It's no coincidence that educators of these groups are among TOON's biggest advocates.)
Students who read comics-format material, as opposed to text-only material, retained more information.
— University of Oklahoma study
Heidi MacDonald of Publishers Weekly
recently covered a University of Oklahoma study measuring how students retain information presented in graphic novel format. The OU study found that students who read comics-format material, as opposed to text-only material, retained more information verbatim -- and 80% of the students involved found comics "compared favorably" with the text-only format.
“Every year, more comics are in more classrooms than the year before to great result."
—Josh Elder, Reading with Pictures
Josh Elder, the founder of Reading with Pictures
, wasn't surprised at the Oklahoma study's conclusion. “Every year, more comics are in more classrooms than the year before to great result,” Elder said. “Even the newly implemented Common Core Standards explicitly call for the use of alternative media – including comics–in the curriculum." Jeremy Short, who headed the OU study, told PW, “It was exciting to verify what some would say was common sense but some naysayers would say was the opposite of commons sense. I was shocked at how opposed a certain minority seemed to be to this format. The pencil, ball-point ben, chalkboard, and computer are all innovations that educators scoffed at when they were first introduced. I hope the graphic novel can be added to that list of educational tools that seem foolish to bemoan in hindsight."
"The newly implemented Common Core Standards explicitly call for the use of alternative media – including comics–in the curriculum."
—Josh Elder, Reading with Pictures
Of course, we're proud of our books not just for their pedagogical virtues but also for their artistic ones. The thousands of kids exclaiming over TOON Books aren't so excited simply because they're developing their inference skills -- they're thrilled because they love making mud pies with Benny and Penny
, swimming through the ocean with Nanaue
, and journeying to the bottom of the world with Mouse
. As Booklist
pointed out way back in 2008, TOON Books are "a literacy tool to teach kids how to not only read but also love to read." And that's exactly what we want in schools.
"The TOON Books are a literacy tool to teach kids how to not only read but also love to read."
—Ian Chipman, Booklist
"Comics are a gateway drug to literacy."
Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Maus, A Survivor's Tale
by Amy Lee
I don't know if everyone is compulsively driven to re-read the books they love, but chances are that if you loved something once, you'll still love it, or at least some part of it. Until you get to the point you can recite the entire thing by memory, re-reading lets you re-live that first moment you began to realize you were reading something really special. Especially if you've just read something that left you disinterested, you'll be amazed at how good it feels to read something great.
But, also, to re-read while I'm reading something for the first time; to go back to passages that seem elusive or mysterious, or are thornily dense with hidden meanings. While I tend to gobble my way as quickly as I can, there's something to be said for stopping to smell the sentences.
Take more notes:
It always feels sacrilegious to scribble in the margin of a book (like defiling the skin of some holy text), but like dreams, the brilliant insights you think you had while reading Kafka will soon disappear into the labyrinthine hoarder's lair that is the brain. I'm not saying you should write in your books. I'm saying post-it notes work just as well (and now, you can re-evaluate your old ideas once you've sobered up from the reader's high).
Read outside of your comfort zone:
Try to read, from time to time, a book you think you won't like. Sometimes, you'll have changed your mind.
And, more generally, be more creative in your selection process. Take unlikely recommendations. Spend more time in physical bookstores wandering slowly from rack to rack until you've gathered a stack. Spend more time in libraries. Find out what your favorite writers are reading (because they're probably reading a lot).
Read complete sets:
Though it's more daunting with D.H. Lawrence than J.D. Salinger, there's no reason not to read the entire life's work of an author you worship. Even the failures, absurdities and oddities will charm, in their own way.
No wasted opportunities:
It's very easy to spend 3 hours surfing the Internet without really thinking about it. And it's hard to cut yourself off from the world when your phone seems to track your movements. But there isn't all that much time in the day to read -- so use it. And, when you have an entire day or night with nothing to do, consider letting yourself have the chance to read for as long as you want, the way you used to.
Evangelize more aggressively:
If you tell a friend enough times that they should read something, they will eventually read it.
Read what makes you happy:
Disregard the above. When you're alone with a book, you can do whatever you want, as long as you enjoy it.