Misako Rocks!

misako rocks Manga fans, sharpen your pencils! We were delighted to host Misako Takashima (popularly known as Misako Rocks!) at an intensive drawing workshop for 10-14 year-olds. Check out our interview with Misako at the end of the post!

misako's workThe workshop primarily focused on character development, as well as a little history on Japanese culture and manga. After a hilarious PowerPoint presentation about growing up in Japan and coming to America, Misako jumped right in to the art. Wielding a variety of markers, she demonstrated how to structure faces and make mouths, eyes, and even hair expressive.

easelsThe kids were loaded up with paper and pencils so they could sketch along with Misako.

kids working 2My favorite part, however, was when Misako would circulate among the young artists, commenting on their work, making suggestions, and giving mini-lessons to help improve their drawings.

kids working 3Another fabulous thing about the workshop? The kids’ art! In addition to some spur-of-the-moment sketches, many of them brought their portfolios with them. Here are just a few…

manga twinsblonde braidwolvescharactersyellow houseposterguitarred girl


In addition to publishing her own work, Misako has been featured in magazines and newspapers, including Elle Girl and the New York Times. The BBC and TV Asahi featured her in a documentary about her comic book life, and her Instagram flows with photos, sketches, and artistic exuberance.

misakoWhen did you first start drawing manga, and why did it intrigue you?

I started drawing when I was 8 or 9 just like any girls copied their favorite characters. But professionally I started drawing in 2004. It was my first dream that I wanted to become a puppeteer in Broadway (to work for Lion King musical!), but I gave up on myself.
Then I noticed that Japanese pop culture (anime and manga) was getting pretty popular around that time. I thought that I had to switch my career when this was pretty trendy! That’s how I started making my story and drawing.

Describe the steps you take to draw a single page in one of your books.

First I roughly draw panels and add lines to the characters. At this time I don’t draw backgrounds. Then I start polishing each page: 1 draw with blue pencil. 2 draw with calligraphy brush. I draw background separately. Scan everything and color with Photoshop.

What’s more difficult for you…writing the story, or drawing the art?

Writing the story is more difficult for me, because English is my second language. I am still learning! My study will never stop! But I do have so many ideas, so I don’t have any problems to come up with a theme!

Name some other artists you love!
Yukari Ichijo is my favorite manga artist, Klimt, and Charles Burns, the graphic novel artist of Black Hole. Art Spiegleman, the graphic novel artist of Maus might be my No1!

What’s one of the most unusual things you’ve received from a fan?

A photo of her tattoo…she used my illustration!!! I was blown away by it.

What’s your advice for young artists who want to draw manga?

In order to make stories, I always advise them to go outside and have fun! Because those days really help them to create interesting and exciting stories. Also give yourself 1 min sketch practice. I sat on a bench in a park to draw people sit in front of me for one minute! I kept doing a lot to develop my drawing skill.

What are you working on now?

I am working on my weekly web comic: BOUNCE BACK. The theme is a school bully, racism, friendship, finding identity etc, etc. But it has a fantasy character, so it’s still entertaining! I bet readers will feel related to my characters Lilico and Paige.

Also I am working on Japanese manga comic too. I go to Japan often to be on TV and radio show to talk about my projects. Sometimes I visit schools to give a motivational speech. This is very exciting!


Artist photo courtesy of Misako Takashima. 

A Fuse #8 Interview

fuse 8 setToday, I’m over on A Fuse #8 Production, a School Library Journal blog helmed by the amazing Betsy Bird! That’s her in the red dress, perched on a vintage Barbie Dream House chair. Alas, I didn’t have time to craft a house band, but Betsy assures me that if I did, they would be Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra.

Follow this link to the interview

Betsy has appeared on this blog as well! In 2014, I interviewed her about what it’s like to write and publish your first picture book. And, if you’d like to see the monstrously fun project I designed for her book, Giant Dance Party, twirl over here.

The BiblioFiles Presents: S.E. Hinton

se hinton photo credit david erdek webJust posted! A webcast with S.E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders, That Was Then, This is Now, Rumblefish, Tex, and Taming the Star Runner.

In 1967, a new voice entered the world of children’s publishing. It was the tough, unfiltered, empathetic, and frank voice of Ponyboy Curtis, the main character in Hinton’s ground-breaking and genre-creating novel, The Outsiders. Fourteen-year-old Ponyboy lives with his big brothers, Sodapop and Darry. They are orphans, and Darry has set aside his dreams of college in order to shoulder the responsibilities of providing for his younger brothers. Ponyboy, his brothers, and his friends are greasers. They grow their hair long, wear leather jackets, drive old souped-up cars, and rove in gangs. They also clash – often very violently – with the Socs, the upper-class teens from the West-side who seem to have it all. When the violence results in a death, Ponyboy and his friend, Johnny, must go on the run or face the judgement of a system that is already stacked against them.

Hinton’s characters navigate confusing, turbulent, bleak, intense, and often unfair worlds that were previously unheard of in children’s literature. The raw truths of Hinton’s novels ushered in a new category of children’s literature – Young Adult fiction. In 1988, she was the recipient of the American Library Association’s first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award, an award that honors authors whose books “have been accepted by young adults as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives.”

It’s important to add that while gritty, Hinton’s books also carry with them messages of understanding, acceptance, choice, family, forgiveness, strength, and hope. They are both heartbreaking and illuminating, desolate and thought-provoking, frightening and beautiful.

In addition to her YA books, Hinton also has a chapter book for younger readers called The Puppy Sister, and a picture book called Big David, Little David.

Follow this link to the BiblioFiles interview