Hi everybody! And welcome!
The book is here! El Deafo is here!
When I returned from Georgia, there were a couple of boxes at our house.
Could they contain what I’ve been so excited about for so long?
I’m excited! Tomorrow El Deafo is finally released to the world. I’m kinda terrified, too. Hopefully folks will like it, and it won’t offend anyone in the deaf/Deaf or hearing communities, and even the friends and teachers I wrote about in a not-nice way will say, “Oh, you were so right to write about me in that way, here’s some ice cream, let’s let bygones be bygones, and gosh, you’re so gorgeous now that you don’t have rabbit ears anymore.” I’d write more, but I just got home after a weekend on the road. Clearly I’ve gone to the dogs or something. Mmmm, wabbit stew!
So, I’m really, really excited and overwhelmed about what happened today.
I’m at the Decatur Book Festival. The book had been made available just for the festival, even though the actual release date is not until Tuesday. So, I was already having a great day when lo and behold, I look up, and I see these two smiling faces:
I’m at the Decatur Book Festival and will be doing 2 panels tomorrow! Tonight I got to hang out with folks like Tony and Angela DiTerlizzi, Matt Phelan, Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, Kelly Light, Laurel Snyder and of course Tom Angleberger, plus cool book store owners and employees at Little Shop of Stories. Very cool!
I also visited Foxtale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, GA and got to spend time with the daughter of one of the book store owners. She’s a lovely young woman who has a cochlear implant. She and her mom taught me some sign language. It is time for me to learn some…FINALLY! Anyway, I got to see copies of the book for real…in a book store(!) even though it’s not officially out yet. Super cool.
A busy day today and tomorrow will be busy, too. I hope to have more pictures and stuff for you tomorrow, perhaps even very very early stuff that I did in the very beginning.
4 more days until the book is out!
Thanks for reading! And here’s me with Rachel of the Foxtale Book Shoppe!
When I first started working on the outline for El Deafo, I called it EL DEAFO: A Semi-Autobiographical Superheroic Love Story (with Hearing Aids!). I’m glad I shortened the title. Who needs all those extra words? Not you, Dear Reader.
I thought you might like to see a bit of my process. It took me a long time to find my groove on this project. It was my first graphic novel, after all, and the learning curve for me was steep. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, the graphic novelists out there who do more than one of these puppies are amazing people with a seriously keen work ethic. Whew. Anyway, I might share some of my frighteningly overdone earlier attempts later, but here’s an example of how I was working once I did find my groove.
There is an early scene in El Deafo, after I’ve gotten my first hearing aid, in which I talk to my friend Emma for the first time:
It’s the only place in the book where I acknowledge that yes, not only did things sound funny to me, but I sounded funny to other people. Just like Emma and other kids my age (4 and a half), I was still learning the nuances of tongue placement and all that other stuff that goes with learning how to talk. Without sound (or with a version of sound that’s a bit warped due to hearing aids), it gets a lot harder to master speech.
My mother is not a hoarder. She rarely saves anything. She gleefully throws stuff away or gives things to Goodwill whenever given a chance. All greeting cards, receipts, and flyers are torn into squares and used as note paper. However, she chose to save a lot of paperwork over the years that was related to my hearing loss. She saved the Phonic Ear, too. It was almost like she knew that all that stuff would be useful to me some day. It was! I looked back over all of it when trying to figure out various bits and pieces for El Deafo.
I dedicated El Deafo to my parents, because they are awesome. They drive me crazy, but I’m crazy about them.
They’ve been married for over 50 years. They met at UVa. My mom felt sorry for the shy boy who was sitting at a table at the cafeteria all by himself. So she married him.
One of the trickier things about illustrating El Deafo was that I had to age the main character as she journeyed through elementary school. Luckily, the main character in the book is me, so I had some good photo reference to use.
I featured a couple of these photos in a previous post, but here they are again, with their matching comic-Cece interpretation:
The beginning of my book El Deafo is about my 2-week stay in the hospital while I recovered from meningitis. My hearing loss was a direct result of this illness. I spent a lot of time drawing during those two weeks. My parents claim that I drew the same thing over and over and over again, and that by the time I got to leave the hospital, I had done over 100 drawings. My parents only kept three, probably because it wasn’t really a time they wanted to remember. Here’s how I imagined I looked as a kid drawing in a hospital bed: