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Tonight, graphic novelists move from page to the National Book Festival stage

TONIGHT, for the second straight year, the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival will host an evening program for its Graphic Novels Pavilion. Over three hours, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Washington Convention Center, seven cartoonists will take the stage to illuminate their inspirations — spotlighting what moves them to do just what they do.

“Graphic Novel Night” (which will by emceed by Comic Riffs) will open with three impassioned political cartoonists: Lalo Alcaraz, Keith Knight and Scott Stantis; that session will be followed by a panel featuring Miss Lasko-Gross, Diana Noomin and Trina Robbins (moderated by Library of Congress curator Martha Kennedy).

And the evening will conclude with a one-hour conversation with headliner Stephan Pastis, the creator of the popular “Pearls Before Swine” and author of the hit kids’ series “Timmy Failure.”

Ahead of tonight’s program, here are quotes from some of  the cartoonists featured today:


“When I started out, I was always so fearful of having to go back to being a lawyer.  So the most I ever really hoped for was to just be able to make a living at this. So yeah, everything else has been amazing. And yes, it all started with a stick-figure rat.” (To read the entire interview, click HERE.)


“Writing and drawing Henni coincided with my own happy, but exhausting, pregnancy and early motherhood. I found myself, somewhat paradoxically, amplifying the darkness and chaos of Henni’s family. Henni’s mother sees herself as a moral guardian, though from an outsider’s perspective she’s physically and emotionally abusive. She clearly loves her daughters and does everything she can to protect them from the ‘corrosive’ influence of their ‘dangerous’ intellectual father. Understanding the intensity of motherhood pushed me towards upping the intensity of her mother’s behavior, precisely because I understand the fear at its core.” (To read the interview, click HERE.)


“I ain’t dead yet. I still write and do write and want to write. Please don’t think I’m carved in marble.” (To read the interview, click HERE.) 


“All these incidents of police brutality can no longer be hidden or swept under the rug. We are now seeing it as it happens, and how often it happens. At this point, one has to truly double-down on their complete denial of how huge this problem is, or they have to acknowledge it, and work towards change.” (To read the interview, click HERE.) 

[HOW TO KICKSTARTER: Cartoonist Keith Knight’s 14 Tips for a More Successful Funding Campaign]


“I have severed all economic ties to Donald Trump, though if he reads this, I urge him to keep emptying his windbag, and hard. I was sure I’d get through one thing [in one] week without having to mention him, but it’s okay, I’m happy to whip him for yet another news cycle.” (To read the interview, click HERE.) 


“It was wrenching. By far the most difficult thing I have ever done. As I mentioned, I had never mentioned [being a victim of child abuse] in public. The more I thought about it, the more I knew it was something that needed to be said. As I created the piece, there was a constant voice in my head screaming: “What are you doing? Are you insane?!? Don’t you dare reveal this to the world!!” Yet as I wrote and drew, it became more and more obvious that this was, in fact, something I desperately needed to get out. It was three days of very mental and emotional heavy lifting.” (To read the interview, click HERE.) 


“I was a very positive kid, and I’m now a positive adult. So yes, “Book Cece’s” outlook very much mirrored mine. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, challenging myself—hence the part in the book where I say: “I’m gonna show those kids that I’m not just ‘the deaf kid’ in our class—I’m the smartest kid in the whole school!” That wasn’t true, of course—I’m pretty sure this kid named Henry was knocking me out of the park every day. But anyway, that kind of attitude really helped me stay positive, and on track. That, and having a loving home to return to each day, kept me feeling a-OK.” (To read the interview, click HERE.) 


“This girl was so bad that everyone in my family knew her. At the bus stop, ‘MacKenzie’ and her friend would harass us. I would stand up for myself, and Nikki would do the same thing, like my sidekick, so I wasn’t alone. … All of those horrible flashbacks to being a preteen, now I use them positively.” — Erin Russell. (To read the profile, click HERE.) 


“My kids love to read, and [daughter[ Fia always has a book in her hand. Kids in this day and age are conditioned to be distracted, and I think reading is a bulwark against that.” (To read the interview, click HERE.)