Raina Telgemeier is a multi-award-winning American cartoonist and comic artist. Most famous for her New York Times bestsellers Smile, Drama, and Sisters. Born in 1977 San Francisco, when she was 22 she moved to New York City. There she studied illustration at the famous talent factory, School of Visual Arts (SVA). In 2002, she walked out of Univesity with a BFA and stepped straight into a career as a freelance artist.
Even before graduating Telgemeier was producing and publishing webcomics. Often short, two or three pages, they were snapshots of her life and experiences. Her highly-praised and award-winning Smile actually started its life as a webcomic. Many of her webcomics were compiled and self-published in Take-Out.
In 2006, Telgemeier met the editors at Scholastic, who were launching a comic imprint, Graphix. At the meeting, they fell onto the idea of adapting Ann M. Martin’s The Baby-sitters Club into a graphic novel. The first issue was picked by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) for their “2007 Great Graphic Novels for Teens” list, and the American Library Association (ALA) put it on their “2007 Top Ten Graphic Novels for Youth” list. Thus beginning a pattern of producing, publishing and praising. Her next project Smile, written and drawn entirely by Raina Telgemeier was an autobiographic tale of the trials and tribulations of a sixth-grader battling with friends, insecurities and braces. Published in 2010 it was New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, Children’s Choice Book Award Finalist, and an Eisner Award winner for Best Publication for Teens. Furthermore, it was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor title, which it went on to win.
The pattern continued for her two follow-ups, Drama (released in 2012) went on to win the 2013 Stonewall Book Award Honor from the ALA. Sisters (released in 2014), the sequel to Smile won the Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist. Extremely difficult to achieve but not so hard to believe on May 10, 2015, Telgemeier’s graphic novels took all of the top four spots on the New York Times Best Seller list for paperback graphic books. Her next project, Ghosts, announced earlier this year, it is set to be released in the fall of 2016. If the pattern continues, which I am certain it will, Ghosts should be making its appearance on next year’s New York Times bestsellers list.
Telgemeier is incredibly good at sharing her knowledge and process. Some that you should absolutely read are How A Graphic Novel is Born (And Raised), Graphic Novels: The Tools of the Trade, as well as her Advice for Budding Cartoonists.