We Dig Worms on Tour. WOW!

Introducing my worms to Françoise Mouly at MoccaFest in NYC.

We Dig Worms! the book I wrote and illustrated at the request of my librarian wife Patt was officially released by Toon Books on April 14. Françoise Mouly, above, is editor and publisher of Toon Books. She is also the art editor of the New Yorker magazine. It was my good fortune that she personally art directed We Dig Worms! The book looks better than I imagined and has been generating a lot of excitement.

Kindergarten at Simon Elementary School, Wash, D.C
Kindergarten at Simon Elementary School, Wash, D.C.  photo courtesy: An Open Book Foundation

In less than 2 weeks I’ve done 3 school visits, 2 bookstore events and one comic book convention. I’ve signed over 200 books and got some fine reviews. Geek Dad found it “fascinating,” Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review: “McCloskey comes not to bury worms (they can handle that themselves) but to praise them in a guide to annelids that manages to be reverent in its irreverence. Painting on brown paper bags, McCloskey offers a crash course on worm physiology, habits, and environmental impact, focusing on garden-variety earthworms.”

Amazon #1 new release in Children's Zoology.
Amazon #1 new release in Children’s Zoology.

The big bounce came when the NY Times chose to feature We Dig Worms in the Sunday Book Review“One of Toon’s stylish comics-inflected early readers, this paean to the worm is a winning combination of facts and gross-out fun.” The book became Amazon’s number one bestselling new release in a number of small categories, including Children’s Zoology.

150 children for Earth Day at Politics and Prose Bookstore, Wash, D.C.
150 children for Earth Day at Politics and Prose Bookstore, Wash, D.C.

150 children showed up at Politics and Prose Bookstore for Earth Day in Washington, D.C. The crowd went wild when a large nightcrawler got out of the bucket and hit the carpet. After that bookstore event, An Open Book Foundation brought me to visit an inner city school, Simon Elementary. Thanks to the generosity of Simon’s “Book Buddies” outreach program of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, each of the nearly 90 children I met there got a copy of my book. We sang “Happy Earth Day” to the worms. It was sweet.

Each Kindergartners at Simon Elementary  got a copy of We Dig Worms!
Each kindergarten student at Simon Elementary got a copy of We Dig Worms!

The tour continues. This week I will be at Firefly Books just up the street from my home in Kutztown. I will be heading to San Francisco’s Academy of Sciences and to the Brooklyn Book Festival. The full Worm Tour schedule can be found at Toon Books or on my Amazon author’s page.

A page from We Dig Worms!
A page from We Dig Worms!

My wife Patt, has been a trooper on tour. She is fine with the new worm bins in our basement laundry room. She even made a short video of a worm race, you can see it at Vimeo.

Watch a Worm Race, link above.
Watch a Worm Race, link above.

TOON BOOKS may not be not the biggest children’s book publisher. They do make beautiful books, and in my experience give their authors great support. They even made temporary We Dig Worms tattoos for me to share at book events. They are having a “We Dig Worms” Earth Day art contest. Deadline is Monday, April, 27. Like Toon Books on Facebook and learn more about all the cool things they do.

Kutztown says hello! to NYC.

"Hello" © 2015 Christina Davies
“hello” © 2015 Christina Davies

More talented Kutztown students are heading to the 2015 MoCCA Arts Fest in NYC with their zines or mini-comics, April 11-12.

Christina Davies is not only a design/illustration student, she is a student of the universe and avid space enthusiast. Her zine, titled “hello” celebrates manmade spacecraft and satellites, and how humanity’s will to learn and explore the universe will carry on through time. Printed in spacey blue, $3. More of Christina’s work can be found here and here. She will also be featured in the next Illozine, issue 12.

Disco Turtle ©2015 Brynne Camburn
Disco Turtle ©2015 Brynne Camburn

DT, aka The Disco Turtle by Brynne Camburn, $5.00. DT is a cowardly turtle who has a passion for deep house music and his own discos held within. After a turtle catastrophe, DT is forced to come out of his shell. This comic comes with an extra bonus: a custom music track on CD. The track is mixed by DJ newpyhundo, aka Tedd Wampole of NEPA, aka NorthEast PA.

Moon and the Wolf Girl © 2015 Kristen Tully
Moon and the Wolf Girl © 2015 Kristen Tully

The Moon and The Wolf Girl by Kristen Tully is a twist on Little Red Riding Hood where a girl and a wolf become friends. There is a tragedy, and the girl must do everything in her power to avenge her friend. Includes stickers! $3

Interior pages, Moon and the Wolf Girl, Kristin Tully.
Interior pages, Moon and the Wolf Girl, © 2015Kristin Tully.

Also debuting at MoCCA will be We Dig Worms! by me…

We Dig Worms! 2015, Toon Books.
We Dig Worms! by me, Kevin McCloskey © 2015, Toon Books.

I will be at MoCCA’s Kutztown U table or at the table of Toon Books. MoCCA has been good to me. Last year at MoCCA I met with Françoise Mouly, publisher of Toon Books to finalize this book deal. As the art editor of the New Yorker magazine Françoise Mouly has the world’s best illustrators on speed dial. I am very fortunate that she chose to publish my We Dig Worms!  She, along with her deputy art director Sasha Steinberg took my worms painted on paper bags, and made a beautiful book. The reviews have been good.

We Dig Worms! © 2015 Kevin McCloskey, Toon Books
We Dig Worms! © 2015 Kevin McCloskey, Toon Books

Toon Books is sending me on a multi-state worm tour with a bucket of racing nightcrawlers. After NYC, we visit Alexandria, Va, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. I am also doing talks closer to home in Kutztown and Reading. Hope to see you. We Dig Worms! tour info here. Available wherever books are sold including Barnes and Noble, the Kutztown University Bookstore and Firefly Bookstore.

funny things art spiegelman said about the funnies

art spiegelman by Kevin McCloskey © 2012

“I’ve been called the father of the graphic novel, but I demand a paternity test!” -art spiegelman.

I caught art spiegelman’s “What the %@&*! Happened to Comics?” at Lehigh University. One of the most influential artists of our time, I knew him before he won the Pulitzer for his graphic novel, Maus. Even though we are nearly the same age, I was once his student.

In 1985, I took his comics course at the School of Visual Arts. It was the History of Comics, but included some drawing projects. I recall one interesting assignment. Each student in the class did a zine based on a different letter, picked from a hat. I got “S.” Then the 26 zines were wrapped together in a cover that evoked a Campbell’s soup can. He called it Alphabet Soup and he arranged for it to be sold at Manhattan’s Printed Matter.

art spiegelman, guest star on the Simpsons

I’d heard many of his one-liners in class. Still, it was great to hear him again at Lehigh. I brought my camera, but just as they dimmed the lights there was a “No cameras, No recording devices!” announcement. Luckily, I had my Moleskine sketchbook, which is a permissible sort of recording device, I suppose. I took notes of his comments and did the quick sketch above. I added color in Photoshop at home.

“Definition of graphic novel: comic book that needs a bookmark. ” -art spiegelman.

Nancy by Ernie Bushmiller

“In the period following world War II, Nancy was the most read comic, not because it was the best, but because it took more effort not to read it, than to read it.”

“My wife says I should take pride in my two great achievements, the first is Maus, second – Not permitting Maus to be made into a film.”

Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art painting Whaam, image from Wikipedia

“Lichtenstein did no more for comics than Warhol did for soup.”

Back in the day, I remember spiegelman always insisted his name be written in lowercase letters, like e.e. cummings. That’s why I am overriding spellcheck, for the sake of art, art spielgelman.