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Monday, February 23, 2009

The Next Round

I’m not a huge fan of sports analogies. Oftentimes, these clich├ęs come out of left field and fail to hit their mark. That said, I’m also not someone who lays off a perfect pitch. I mean, everyone knows you gotta take a few cuts if you’re ever going to connect, right? So, if I WAS going to use a corny sports analogy to describe the graphic novel process, I might say it’s a lot like boxing: match up an author and an illustrator, promote their event, and hope the outcome pleases the audience.


At Stone Arch, we’ve already started our next round of graphic novels, scheduled for release in Fall 2009. One title, FLOAT AND STING: ONE ROUND WITH MUHAMMAD ALI, matches up celebrated author Davis Miller with illustrator Andres Esparza. In the book, Miller is a puny little mouse at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. At least that's
what the other students call the 4' 7" senior. After years of being depressed, the sickly teen decides to take on an impossible dream. He decides to become a boxer. Then one day in 1975, Miller gets a chance to spar with Muhammad Ali — a bout that changes his life.


Unlike some matchups, Miller and Esparza haven't clashed with each other in these opening rounds (trust me, as an editor, I’ve refereed a few battles in the past); their combination of writing talent and visual storytelling has created a tale of excitement and inspiration. So for now, enjoy a few sneak peeks or, you might call them, pregame warm-ups. This book is sure to be a knockout! (Okay, that was a little corny.)



Donnie Lemke
Senior Editor
Stone Arch Books

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Comic-Con New York 2009

Our friend Batman, posing for fans at Comic-Con New York


The Stone Arch booth, showcasing our graphic novels


Art of all kinds is featured at Comic-Con


SAB Creative Director Heather Kindseth and her husband, Aaron

Monday, February 16, 2009

Messages of Diversity

Last November, my then 4-year-old daughter, Sky, took part in a mock presidential election in her preschool class. The teacher showed the kids a photograph of each candidate, told them their names, and then let them vote. I was surprised that night when Sky informed us that she voted for “John McCain, because he sure looked like he would be a good president.” She was disappointed in the morning to learn her candidate lost, and she simply wasn’t sure Barack Obama would be a good president.


Something about her reaction left me feeling a little embarrassed. But after thinking about it, I realized that John McCain was the candidate who looked like all the other presidents Sky had ever seen. She, like so many children her age, didn’t fully grasp that anyone, no matter their color or gender, could be president.


I saw an educational opportunity there. With the books I choose to share with her, I can share a message of diversity. For example, I can read The End Zone, from our “My First Graphic Novel” series, so she can see that an African-American girl can be the hero among a football team of boys. And as Sky grows, there are countless Stone Arch titles with diverse characters just waiting to capture her interest and imagination. She can read Running Rivals, a Jake Maddox book, and discover two competitors—one black and one white—who work together to improve their skills. When she picks up a Claudia book, she’ll find that despite differences in cultural backgrounds, she and the quirky character have a lot in common.


And how does Sky feel about her Mr. President now? Well, she has fallen in love with the rhythm of his name, and while she clicks to cartoons, she often pauses on the news to listen to him speak. She has definitely developed a respect for our president. But I think it’s his fashionista-wife that has truly captured her heart. She just loved that gold inauguration suit!


Julie Gassman
Senior Editor
Stone Arch Books/Picture Window Books

Monday, February 9, 2009

Flipping Pages


Okay, I’ll admit it, this month I turned the page on my calendar a few days late. Normally, I wouldn’t mind (it’s not an unusual occurrence, after all); however, February is different. First, it’s already the shortest month of the year and doesn’t need additional editing (yes, even editors know when to say when). And, much more importantly, it’s Black History Month. For twenty-eight days (not counting those crazy leap years), we commemorate the enormous contributions of African Americans in our society. For twenty-eight days, we recognize Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Jackie Robinson, Wilma Rudolph, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., and hundreds of other African American icons. For a mere twenty-eight days, all people are given the chance to discuss the African American experience, to share stories, both fiction and nonfiction, of their struggles, triumphs, and perseverance throughout history. So, before flipping the page on your calendar next month, flip through the pages of a few good books and learn something you hadn’t yet known. Oh, and don’t worry if March comes a few days late.


Donnie Lemke
Senior Editor
Stone Arch Books

Monday, February 2, 2009

President Anybody


On January 20, most of the staff in our Minneapolis office (after being warned to not stream the inauguration live at our desks) gathered upstairs in our conference room. No matter your political leanings, it was an exciting place to be—although our viewing experience was less than optimal. Our internet connection wasn’t working, so we wheeled in a TV with an antenna. It struck me as ironic that President Obama, who is addicted to his BlackBerry and who used some of the newest technology to garner support during the campaign, was being sworn in and broadcast to us over old-fashioned analog signals; whenever someone new entered the room, the screen would flicker and fuzz.

It was a pretty amazing moment when our first African-American president took the oath of office. Being the mother of a five-month-old, it’s hard for me to experience anything without somehow relating it back to my son, but the election has figured prominently into his very young life. Sam and I spent much of his first two weeks watching the two national conventions. My husband and I pushed him in his stroller to vote on Election Day (he wore my “I Voted” sticker on his carseat for a few weeks after November 4th). So it was a special thrill to me to know that my little boy will never think that only white men can become American presidents. And I hope other little boys and girls in this country will embrace this new knowledge, so that someday in the not-too-distant future, it won’t seem like a novelty when a woman, or an Asian-American, or anyone else, becomes President.


Beth Brezenoff
Senior Editor
Stone Arch Books