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Children's Book Writers
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Breaking the Frame: Exploring the Expanding Universe of Graphic Novel Illustration


Instructors: Linda Camacho, Laurent Linn, Raina Telgemeier, Jen Wang


Audience: Illustrators with an interest in illustrating (or writing and illustrating) graphic novels for any age range from early chapter books to young adult


Level: All, from pre-published to published



  • You should be familiar with graphic novels for kids and teens and have at least a basic understanding of the format.
  • Some suggested reading in advance of the Intensive: Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, The Prince and the Dressmaker, by Jen Wang, and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier


Description: Over the past many years, graphic novels have become an essential part of children’s literature, bringing important and meaningful stories to readers of all ages. But crafting visual stories for graphic novels is unlike illustrating for any other book genre, and navigating the aspects of artistic expression, storytelling, work/life balance, and the business side can be tricky. In this Creative Lab, we will dive deep into all of these areas, guided by some of the top graphic novel creators in publishing to help you on your creative journeys in creating your art and telling your stories.


Materials needed in class: There will be in-class drawing exercises, so bring materials for drawing: pencils, pens, paper, but also a laptop or iPad if you sketch that way. (Note that the hotel Wi-Fi may be slow and electrical outlets unavailable, so make sure all software is loaded/ updated and your battery is fully charged.)


Attendees in this Creative Lab will learn:

  • Artistic tools for improving your craft
  • Techniques in pacing and unfolding the visual narrative
  • Understanding the uses of frames and page composition
  • Character and art consistency
  • How to approach story and character for the right balance of art and text
  • Why illustrating for graphic novels is so different from creating art for other book formats
  • How graphic novels contracts and budgets work
  • The behind-the-scenes process of how graphic novels are made within a publishing house
  • How to sustain a career in illustrating graphic novels with the best work/life balance


Attendees in this Creative Lab will leave with:

  • A deeper understanding of all sides of graphic novel creation
  • How graphic novels impact readers of all ages
  • New creative tools and techniques
  • Multiple resources for reference, inspiration, and research
  • Inspirations for assessing how illustrating and writing/illustrating graphic novels could best work in your art career
  • An understanding of how illustrators, writers, agents, art directors, and publishers approach both the art and business sides of making graphic novels


Session One – Saturday, February 11
Writing with Pictures: Applying Art to Narrative with Jen Wang

  • Dive deep into the fundamentals of visual storytelling in comics
  • Explore technique in layouts, pacing, and panel composition used to convey emotion, manipulate timing, and enhance narrative
  • Lessons are illustrated with examples from a variety of comic works, including Jen Wang’s own books, as well as inspiration from film/tv and photography
  • Participate in simple exercises and discussions to explore your own voice and approach with the techniques learned to tell a story through pictures


Session Two – Saturday, February 11
Telling Your Story with Heart: Digging Deep, with Raina Telgemeier

  • A deep-dive discussion on the storytelling of graphic novels—how to help illustrators and writer/illustrators find what they want to say and how best to say it
  • Crafting with feeling, getting to the heart of a story, and building trust with readers
  • How to protect personal boundaries while putting raw emotion onto the page


Session Three – Sunday, February 12,
The Business Side and Work/Life Balance with Linda Camacho, Laurent Linn, and Raina Telgemeier

  • How contracts and budgets work for graphic novels
  • Realistically creating a schedule for a long-term project to meet deadlines
  • Considerations for when to hire others to ink and/or color your art
  • Maintaining a healthy work/life balance
  • How to stay motivated and creative
  • Exploring other creative work apart from graphic novels
  • The roles of agents, art directors, and editors in the life of a graphic novel



About Your instructors:

Linda Camacho is an agent at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency. She graduated from Cornell with a B.S. in Communication and has held various positions at Penguin Random House, Dorchester, Simon & Schuster, and Writers House. She’s done everything from foreign rights to editorial, to marketing, to operations and received her MFA in children’s writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Linda represents bestselling and award-winning creatives such as Yamile Saied Méndez, K. O’Neill, and Wendy Xu.
Laurent Linn, art director at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, collaborates on picture books, middle grade, teen, and graphic novels with both celebrated and new illustrators such as Rosemary Wells, Bryan Collier, John Parra, Raúl Colón, and Vashti Harrison. He is also the author/illustrator of the critically acclaimed young adult novel Draw the Line. Laurent is on the SCBWI Advisory Council and is the artistic advisor for the annual Original Art exhibit at the Society of Illustrators in New York. Laurent began his career as a puppet designer/builder in Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop, creating characters for productions including the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island films, and eventually becoming the creative director for the Sesame Street Muppets, winning an Emmy Award. Learn more online at or on Instagram and Facebook: Laurent Linn.
Raina Telgemeier is the author and illustrator of the graphic novels Smile, Drama, Sisters, Ghosts, and Guts, all #1 New York Times bestsellers. She also adapted and illustrated four graphic novel versions of Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club series, and has contributed short stories to many anthologies. Raina’s accolades include six Eisner Awards, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, a Stonewall Honor, and many Best-of and Notables lists. Raina lives and works in San Francisco, California.
Jen Wang is the award-winning New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of several graphic novels for young readers including Stargazing (winner of the 2020 Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature), The Prince and the Dressmaker, and In Real Life co-written with Cory Doctorow. She is also a co-founder and organizer for Comic Arts LA. She lives in Los Angeles.