Monday, July 16, 2018

Etsy commissions back for a limited time!

I’m opening up my Etsy store to take commissions while I’m away at ComicCon. When I return, I’ll have a window of time to execute some ink drawings for folks. I’m not 100% sure if I’ll be able to open this up again before the holidays, so if you would like to order now: 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Exciting News!

‪Lunch Lady readers, I have news.‬

‪I am SO excited for what Sony Pictures has cooking with writer Fred Wolf.‬

(Also, in regards to questions about the potential PG-13 rating:

Technically speaking, the movie doesn’t have a rating yet. The MPAA designates a rating after the movie has been made. That being said, it is very typical for a live-action family feature that is action-driven to have a ra
ting like this. The Marvel superhero movies, the recent Star Wars movies, Harry Potter, etc.

I’m confident however things proceed with this project it is going to be a lot of fun for everyone to enjoy together.)

School Lunch Hero Day 2018

‪A student posted this note to a school cafeteria for School Lunch Hero Day. THIS! All of this. 

Thank you!

Made thank-you cards for all of the schools that hosted me this academic year. Arrived before summer recess, I hope. ‬

Happy Father's Day

My grandfather led by example with his work ethic and love for family. Happy Father’s Day to all of the father figures out there!


‪Even though Grace Lin and I should have been packing for ALA 2018 in New Orleans, we had our first meeting for a super-secret project that will be the coolest and hopefully inspire many young artists. ‬

(Also, this photo is not at all staged and there are no clues, so don’t bother looking.)

Familiar Faces!

Me and Cliff. 

A visit to Scholastic headquarters while in NYC for Book Expo 201 and Book Con.

We just keep running into each other. 


Thoughts from ALA 2018

‪Librarians: Patrons of the Arts and Heart, we would not be living out these childhood ‬dreams without you. 

I was a kid who loved to draw then grew to be an adult who made that his vocation. But there was a time when I thought—maybe this just isn’t going to work out. 

It was 2008, my wife was six months pregnant and she was laid off from her job. Suddenly, everything fell at my feet. It was overwhelming. I didn’t know how I was going to make it happen. I even applied for a few regular-type jobs. It was humbling—the employers knew my books and were wondering why I was applying.

But schools kept hosting me, keeping my family afloat while I toiled away in the studio at all odd hours. (And in hotel rooms while I travelled.) One of those projects I was wrapping up was a graphic novel about a crime-fighting lunch lady.

I had been working on that story for years, so long that publishers hadn’t been putting out graphic novels for kids. And when I first submitted that middle-grade comic, the publisher had no idea what to do with it. It was on submission for over a year.

So fast forward a decade. Gina and I are traveling to New Orleans for ALA 2018 to debut my YA graphic memoir. (Another seemingly unfathomable kind of book.) We’re at the airport, and my wife gets to see Lunch Lady standing ten feet tall on permanent display on a mural.

G grabs my arm, looks up at Lunch Lady, and says, “To think she was just a few sketches on your desk in that tiny studio in our old house.” The aforementioned in-utero baby is now nearly ten and at home with her two younger siblings and their grandparents.

We get to NOLA and I’m set to read aloud from HEY, KIDDO for the very first time.

I’m nervous.

I’m breathing deeply.

This is difficult.

But then I run into so many librarians that I’ve known from school visits and social media, and they lift me up with kind words and enthusiasm.

I am given a stirring and moving introduction by comics-advocating librarian Scott Robbins.

I take the podium.

I intro the book and share some important words about Gina and my editor (and longtime friend) David Levithan. They get weepy. (Cry babies!)

I read aloud from a particularly brutal section of the book. The tech goes off without a hitch—the Keynote file pan and scans across the panels, all sound effects play just where I want them to. I can hear people sobbing in the audience.

The passage ends and much to my surprise, everyone is on their feet.

Librarians—you have changed our lives and your students’ lives by filling up your bookshelves with books like Bone, Smile, American Born Chinese, Amulet, Babymouse, El Deafo. And since those early days, there are so many stories that can now be told. Including, my actual story, which is a far departure from my earlier works.

You create space, you are thoughtful, you are champions, you have difficult conversations with adults who think their kids should only be reading “real books.” But you stand tall for those young readers who can’t. And with that, you are making such a difference in the trajectory of the lives of those young people.

So now those kids who read Lunch Lady and her comics peers from the 00’s are now all in high school. And now I am grateful to be reunited with them though Hey, Kiddo. Thank you, @Scholastic for bravely putting this book out into the world.

Gina and I are still on the plane back to Boston. We are flying, but we are floating.

We’ll tell Lunch Lady you said hello when we land.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Jedi Academy Translations

May the force be with you.
Thank you, Ă‰ditions Scholastic!

School Lunch Hero Day

That thing where School Lunch Hero Day is just a few days away and you are behind on your planning BUT there are greeting cards available to print. 

Download in English and in Spanish here:

Visiting Los Angeles

Kros-Oscah. We just received a private tour of the Jim Henson Creature Shop and we are absolutely floating!

The irony of coming across this on a Monday. I should get lasagna for dinner...

After a whirlwind trip to Los Angeles, I have returned to Boston on a red-eye flight to find Lunch Lady greeting me at the airport. 

Reading Together

I wrote Punk Farm when I was 25 and single. Here I am reading it, at 40, to my three kids on a Sunday morning because my son is constantly requesting it. These giggles are the most satisfying of any reading I’ve ever given of this book, and there have been thousands of readings at this point...

Porgs and pugs.

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Happy 102nd birthday, Beverly Cleary! I celebrate Ms. Cleary’s work in every school visit I make—I share images of the books that I read as a kid that helped inform the author and illustrator that I am today. I am so thankful for Ralph S. Mouse and his motorcycle. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Thank You Paintings

To thank my author/illustrator pals for presenting at Meltdown, I made them paintings on little mini canvases.

Texas Library Association Disaster Relief Fund

I have made many wonderful trips down to Texas, visiting school libraries to speak about my books. In fact, those Texan librarians helped kickstart my career by inviting me for school visits well before there was social media and the only info they had on me was a picture book called BAGHEAD. I’m eternally grateful for their support and I am thrilled to support the TLA Disaster Relief Fund with this original art. This program rebuilds school libraries when Mother Nature devastates communities.

If you are currently at the Texas Library Association’s annual conference, raffle tickets are available at the Disaster Relief table by the TLA Store. If you’re not at TLA, call a librarian friend who is there!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Read all about it! Meltdown #10!

I am incredibly proud of this crazy thing called MELTDOWN that Gina and I run every year with Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child and WRSI - 93.9 The River -- and this is the TENTH year that we're staging this musical-literary-madcap event for families.
Perhaps we will see you on Saturday? The event is free for all -- great bands and great authors lined up all day long!
Read all about it:

Meltdown 2018: Author Interviews!

Monte Belmonte, radio guy, has yet again interviewed our wonderful roster of Meltdown authors ahead of the big event on March 31! Please give a listen on your way over.

Also, you may purchase author books at the event OR online:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rest in Peace, Betty

Rest in Peace, Betty.

While I have spoken extensively about my chance encounter with Jeanne, my old lunch lady, that inspired me to write the Lunch Lady series, you might not know that the real-life lunch lady sidekick also inspired the comic book sidekick in my books. After brainstorming the story of what would become Lunch Lady for a few years, I realized that my spatula-wielding heroin needed help in both the kitchen and the crime lab. I immediately thought of Betty, the right-hand woman of Jeanne in the Gates Lane School cafeteria. After reading her obituary, you will be astounded to learn that she was VOLUNTEERING that entire time. And she once performed at Carnegie Hall!

May the memories she gave this world continue to bring smiles to her family's faces!

Advocating for the Arts

Advocating for arts education since 1990...

I recently found this letter from Massachusetts Senator John P. Houston in reply to a concerned twelve-year-old citizen (me) who was none too pleased to see the arts getting pushed out of public schools.


Congratulations to Jane Yolen on the publication of her 365th book! I shared Jane’s sage writing advice with the listeners of SiriusXM Kids Place Live.


Celebrating Lunch Ladies!

Display seen on a school visit to LVI Elementary—actual lunch ladies as undercover crime fighters. Not pictured: all of the students’ thank-you notes on display in the cafeteria that brought tears of joy to these faces! 

Gretchen was presented with a “thank you salad.” She had no idea she and her colleagues were asked to stop by the library to be showered with thank you cards and gifts from the students. School Lunch Hero Day is on May 4th this year, but I love when it’s celebrated at my school visits too!


Just found an old notebook filled with some of my early writing...

My grandfather empowered me to archive my childhood artwork. Every year, he’d give me a storage bin and encourage me to decide what to keep and what to toss. Because of that, I have a treasure trove of artwork that I made throughout my upbringing. I’m using some of it in HEY, KIDDO. 

Fans of my earliest books will recognize this drawing. But this isn’t from the picture book BAGHEAD, this is a still life drawn during my sophomore year of high school. Whenever my art teacher, Mr. Shilale, assigned a still-life drawing I’d try to tell a story with the setup. One day, he gave us a homework assignment to draw a paper bag using limited drawing tools. 

#ThrowbackThursday to wearing an airbrushed Batman shirt in front of Michael Keaton’s Batmobile in 1993. (And I airbrushed the shirt.)

Disney Cruise: Star Wars Day at Sea

I have delivered my author talk in libraries, gymnasiums, theaters, cafetoriums, and just about every imaginable space in between at schools all across the country. I never, ever imagined that I’d be asked to deliver my author talk on a cruise ship while sailing around the Caribbean. A gazillion thank-yous to everyone at the Disney Fantasy for having my family and me on board that week! 

Have you read to your droid today?
Traded some books to a few Jawas for pieces of scrap metal. Seemed like a good deal. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hot Dog Man!

I had the pleasure of meeting this young cartoonist at a school visit yesterday. During the Q&A session, Malaki held up his book—Hot Dog Man—from the back of the room. After the presentation, he came up to show me the book. I was impressed, he worked hard on it! I told him he’d better come back to his school to give an author presentation after he got published. 

Later, his teacher asked if I would sign it. This always gives me pause—signing on a kid’s artwork. It’s their art, not mine. And as much as I loved having Jack Gantos visit my school when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have been too happy if he had written in the book I wrote. In this moment, I had an epiphany, I turned Malaki’s book over and wrote a blurb for it.

And the most powerful part of all this? This was the school’s first-ever school visit. The reading coach received a grant and wanted to do something to fire up the students, so she stuck her neck out and gave this new thing a try. I’m honored that I was that invite!

Awesome Letter!

And sometimes you get a letter from a kid that just stops you right in your tracks...

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Studio Visitors!

Every other year, Gary Schmidt loads up a bus with his students from Calvin College and they depart Grand Rapids, MI, for the Northeast to tour literary spots. I was so happy to have this great group over to the studio last night. I gave them a tour, shared current projects and my process and answered their thoughtful questions.