Day 7 of our countdown! Annette Hashitate interviewed fellow GN creator David Rickert who landed an agent through #kidlitGN in 2021. Annette is donating a $20 Apple gift card towards the purchase of Procreate and or other creative apps. See details below to enter.
Tell us how you got your start in graphic novels.
I am a high school English teacher but have always loved to draw and create my own comics. For the past fifteen years, I’ve created educational comics for TeachersPayTeachers, where teachers create classroom resources for teachers to purchase. At the same time, I’ve always wanted to create a children’s book or a graphic novel. When COVID hit, like many people, I had a lot more free time on my hands and decided to resurrect a teaching resource that I had always meant to finish, which is a set of Greek myths with teaching tools. At some point, I thought “what if I DIDN’T make this a teaching tool and made it a graphic novel for kids?” And that started my journey into the children’s book market.
How does being an educator influence your projects? What are you most passionate about?
I want to make learning fun for kids. For example, there are a lot of graphic novel versions of Shakespeare’s plays out there, but they tend to look realistic, like superhero comics. Mine are much more fun – they are inspired by all the reading of MAD Magazine that I did as a kid. I put hidden things for kids to find, like SpongeBob Squarepants and Thanos in the crowd scenes. I don’t really make them for teachers; I make them for kids. I make something that I would have been amused by when I was in school.
You pitched in our event a year ago and landed your agent through it. What did you do to prepare such a stellar pitch? (if you have any images, text of the actual pitch, or screenshots of it, could you share?)
Here are my tweets:
I spent a lot of time crafting my pitches. I wasn’t in a critique group at that point, so I must have just trusted my instincts. If I remember correctly, KidLitGN provided some resources, or I might have just Googled some websites to see how to write effective pitches.
I think it helped that I was a writer/author and had some concepts to show people. In the end, it wasn’t the Greek myth idea that got Janna Morishima (my wonderful agent) interested in me. She told me “I like your work AND I don’t think it will sell.” But she liked what I was doing enough to push me to come up with a new concept.
You sold PIZZA, PICKLES AND APPLE PIE to Kane Press earlier this year, congratulations! Where did the inspiration come from and what can you share about this project?
Like I said, Janna didn’t like my Greek myth idea, but she did like my work. The best piece of advice I got from her was to stay in my lane. Because I had done most of my work in the non-fiction field, and I love to do research, she suggested I stay with that – otherwise, I’d be in a big pond with several fish. That’s a good piece of advice for everyone, I think-figure out what you can do better than anyone else, and that’s your niche. You can’t compete with everyone.
At some point, I thought it would be fun to do a graphic novel about the history of foods that we eat every day: pizza, sandwiches, ice cream, and so forth. A lot of them have very interesting histories behind them. It did take a while to get an offer, but I have been fortunate to find a great publisher in Kane Press and an outstanding editor in Harold Underdown, and a great art director in Barbara Grzeslo. I have loved working on this.
What advice do you have for GN creators who are pitching in our upcoming pitch event?
Play by the rules. Comment and retweet people’s posts. Understand what constitutes an invitation from an agent to submit something. Don’t get discouraged if not that many editors reach out. I only had two that invited me to submit, and it only takes one!
Have your pitches ready to go. Don’t make them up on the spot.
Go in with a plan of when you are going to post and stick with it. It can be tempting to post early but stick to a plan. Not that this is something I would absolutely recommend, but Janna read my post during lunchtime, so I would definitely plan on doing a tweet around there.
Make sure you have different pitches and (if you’re an artist) different samples of your art. You never know what people will respond to.
You can find out more about David at: https://davidrickert.com/about/
To enter to win a $20 Apple gift card, please comment below with your name. To enter more than once, share this post on social media, then reply to your original comment with the link to where you shared the post. You can enter as many times as you shared, but please reply to your original comment, or we may not know your name. This contest will close by the end of the day on Oct. 2, and the winner will be selected shortly after. Thank you, Annette! THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED AND THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY.
Love this advice. Simple to the point and gently encouraging! How great to have Janna as an agent! BTW, I have been having trouble replying to my comments to show my sharing on social. the links arent always working. But thanks KidlitGN for all you’re doing!
Now it’s working! Thanks!
Just a note the reply button isn’t working at least on my phone. Thanks!
Thank you. We’ll look into it.
Thanks for sharing your journey to an agent and publication.
Thanks so much for the great advice David!
Thanks for sharing!
nice tip. I like this about finding a way to talk about things one is really good at. I was quite inspired. I have an MS with math and my crit mates are getting dizzy so I may look into doing some ER math to help future kids not seize up when it comes to math of divisions.
Cool to see the pitch variation and how constructive feedback had an impact!