Friday, July 9, 2010

SCBWI TEAM BLOG Interview with Mac McCool

YOU GUYS! The Summer Conference is three weeks from today. I am thrilled with this year's line up of sessions, especially the redonkulously awesome premium workshop options.

If you've ever thought about writing or illustrating a graphic novel, there are still a few spots open in the GRAPHIC NOVEL MASTER CLASS lead by Mac McCool.

Who is this mysterious Mac McCool? What does he read? How does he feel about comics on the iPad? What's the skinny on his Graphic Novel sessions? And most importantly, what does he think about the Summer Conference Saturday Night Taco Bar? Well I know all this now, and more, because I got to interview him! See below.

For starters, here is Mac's conference bio:

Mac McCool had his first comics strips published at sixteen. For ten years, he freelanced as an illustrator for Disney, the Smithsonian, and many dotcoms.  He now shares his passion for children’s graphic novels in presentations and workshops across the country. He has published more than a dozen articles on graphic novels, including in the 2009 Children’s Writers’ and Illustrators’ Market. He teaches illustration and sequential art at California State University, Fullerton.

Jaime: Thanks for chatting with me, Mac! First off, I'm trying to build my graphic novel/comics library and wonder what you've read recently that has knocked your socks off.

Mac: Last summer, I fell in love with Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha (8 vol. graphic novel).  

So this summer, I’m reading more Tezuka (Black Jack, right now).  

I’m also revisiting a lot of my French and Belgian comics “albums” (they call them albums instead of comic books), and enjoying some American golden oldies, like Terry and the Pirates.  

Finally, I'm head over heels about the graphic novels and illustrations of Daphné Collignon, whose artistic skills and approaches to comics are nothing short of brilliant.

Jaime: NICE. I'm putting all those on hold at the library as I type. Your conference workshop series sounds totally awesome, Mac. And it is for both writers and illustrators wanting to make graphic novels, so I bet that's a fun mix. There are five assignments to do (writer assignments here and illustrator assignments here.) If someone were to sign up for your workshop series TODAY—do you think they could get all five assignments done before July 30th?

Mac: First, thanks for the kind words.  I think participants have enough time to do all the practice work. It’s four small exercises and one completed page of comics.  I’ve tailored the assignments so they’re not too time consuming, and yet participants should gain a lot of insight about the various steps of the creative process and be able to pinpoint what skills they master and which ones they need to build up.

Jaime: I remember your excellent talk at an earlier conference and think your workshop series is going to be aces. Anything else you want people to know about it?

Mac: We're going to have fun, get things done, make friends, and cover a lot of material.  I envision that we’ll take some of the finished pages we created and that we'll show them to some publishing pros.

Jaime: Holy Frijoles! That last part is a real bonus! Speaking of frijoles, how do you feel about the Heart & Soul poolside gala and taco bar on Saturday night?

Mac: Salsa heaven!

Jaime: I was thinking of making my pool party outfit AT the party, what do you think of a quesadilla bikini top?


Jaime: Yes, probably not worth pursuing that. Enough about the conference, what does your studio look like?

Mac: Like a dance floor the morning after a wild taco bar party!  On the photo of the wall of comic "albums" I face when I work at my desk, you’ll notice the carton the SCBWI made for me a couple of years ago – a special keepsake!  In the bottom left corner, you'll also notice the edge of the screen of my MacBook - my workhorse.

Jaime: When slaving away on panels on your MacMcCoolBook is there a certain snack that helps you get work done?

Mac: French bread. Any excuse to eat French bread works for me! And salsa of course!

Jaime: Last question for now—what do you think of comics/graphic novels being available on things like the iPad?

Mac: It’s the natural evolution. Better get ready!  I’ll miss the smell of paper and ink, but that’s because I was born in the last century.  In contrast, students in my classes have no hang-ups about clicking through instead of leafing through comics.

As far as how the iPad and digital tablets will affect the artistry of graphic novels, I believe the Internet has already showcased many of the experiments and possibilities.  We can study and build upon those that have worked (metadata about the creative process, akin to a DVD commentary; direct artist-reader interactions; fan communities) and those that haven’t (animated comics that generally look like a poor-man’s TV cartoon).

Jaime: Thanks again, Mac!


Tarsila Kruse said...

Thanks for sharing this interview Jaime!

CocoaStomp said...

You're welcome, Tarsila! Are you coming to the LA Conference? (I love the ninjas on your blog.)