Ten years ago, author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka had a chance meeting with the lunch lady from his old school. That led him to think about what her life was like outside the lunchroom, and that, in turn, led to the creation of the Lunch Lady books, a series of all-ages graphic novels that feature a superhero lunch lady (armed with fish-stick nunchuks and a banana boomerang) and her sidekick, Betty. There are Sadly, Jarrett reported that the original Lunch Lady, Jeannie, passed away recently.
On a more upbeat note, Krosoczka is holding a pretty nifty auction to raise funds for the Joe and Shirl Scholarships, which he established in memory of his grandparents, who raised him. The scholarships will be used to pay for underprivileged children to attend art classes at the Worcester Art Museum. In an interview with the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Krosoczka talked about how his grandparents encouraged him to study art—and how much he looked forward to the classes at the museum.
“That time, 1989, was another time like we’re living through now where the art budgets were just slashed at public schools, so at Gates Lane Elementary School I actually went from having art class once a week to once every other week to once a month to not at all,” he said.
Because of those classes, Krosoczka said, he realized that a career in art was a real possibility. And it seems to be working for him; the Lunch Lady books are being developed into a movie, with Amy Poehler in the title role. The auction items include a sketchbook, original art, and lunch with Krosoczka in his studio, and the bidding ends on December 5.
Every year, I participate in my city’s Community Reading Day, and every year I bring a big bag of comics to whatever class is lucky enough to get me as their reader. This year it was a fifth-grade class, and I thought their take on comics was pretty interesting — and should be troubling to publishers and marketers.
I always start by asking the kids what comics they read. Calvin & Hobbes is the one constant from year to year — often it’s the only comic most of them can think of. No one seems to read current newspaper strips, or monthly comics, or many graphic novels, but everyone knows Calvin & Hobbes. There is usually one kid who reads superheroes, but this year there were none (although one likes to draw them). Someone had a copy of Big Nate, and two girls who were obviously friends mentioned the manga +Anima. “It’s on the Internet,” one of them explained. Not legally, of course, but I didn’t have the heart to tell them that. If I worked for Tokyopop, though, I’d be worried — they were obviously reading it on a bootleg site, and what’s more, it’s the only manga they read. Whatever marketing Tokyopop is doing is missing the core audience. (Maybe they should buy ads on the bootleg sites.)