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Comic strip, “The Pajama Diaries,” coming to an end.

For the past four years, I’ve had two incredibly fulfilling careers: one as a children’s book author and one — much longer — as a syndicated newspaper cartoonist. Well, it’s reached the point where one career had to give. The Pajama Diaries has had a good 14-year run and I’ve decided to retire it permanently.

Bittersweet is an understatement, but I’m so thankful to have had even this long a stint. The strip has rewarded me with incredible fans, a big-time award, and so many industry friends. Below is my official goodbye letter to my readers, who made this my ultimate dream job.

After almost fourteen incredible years, it’s with mixed feelings that I’m announcing the retirement of my syndicated comic strip, The Pajama Diaries. This is truly bittersweet. I’ve always loved writing and illustrating the strip. However, I’ve been fortunate to have other exciting and challenging projects thrown my way, and I just can’t do it all — trust me, I’ve tried.

The Kaplan family characters age just like we do, and now that the child characters are nearly grown and Jill and Rob are practically empty nesters, this seems an appropriate time as any to hang up my (digital) pen. The final strip will be published on January 4, 2020.

I want to extend my unwavering thanks to the folks at King Features Syndicate who have given PJD a home all these years and have continued to champion it. I’d also like to thank you, readers, who’ve made this job such a joy, as well as the newspaper editors (with fine taste) who have given it a home on their funny pages.  Finally, I’d like to thank my friends and colleagues in the industry whom I’ve looked up to for so long.

ComicsKingdom.com will run The Pajama Diaries archives starting January 5, so you can see where it all began (in all its cringy glory!). You’ll also be able to read it in many online newspapers or link up to it from my personal website and PJD Facebook page.

Thank you so much for your support!

-Terri Libenson, December 10, 2019

BECOMING BRIANNA: the artistic process

Thought I’d share a fun peek into creating the art for Becoming Brianna, upcoming in the Emmie & Friends series. The process pretty much follows the same path as the first three books, except I kinda actually know what I’m doing now.

Each book is told in two different styles: graphic novel (like a comic book) and illustrated novel (lots of text with spot art). For the spot art, I create many rough illustrations in pencil on paper, and then I scan them in. Here’s an illustration I scanned for chapter 1:

Next, I redraw and color the image in Photoshop on my digital drawing tablet. A technique I often use is “tracing” over the rough image in order to create the new image. This is what the final illustration looks like:

I use the same technique for the graphic novel portion of the book. The only difference is I start with a page template so that I get the size right. Here’s what the template looks like:

Not much to look at, huh? But it really helps me. The pink part is my working area (note: this is reduced; it’s really about 5 inches by 8 inches). On the digital tablet, I can “layer” it under my drawing and remove it when I’m done. I’m then left with the artwork with the correct proportions..

Here’s what a rough scan of the graphic novel artwork looks like (from chapter 2), layered on top of the pink template. You can see I adjusted the opacity of the pink part so that it’s lighter and easier to see under the rough drawing.

Here’s the final black line art. I traced it over the rough art, not yet removing the pink template:

And here’s what it looks like, all colored and finished (pink layer removed):

And that’s it! Now multiply that by a billion times (okay, math isn’t my strong point), and I’ve got an entire book. In reality, it takes me about a month to do all the rough art and four months to do the final art.

Becoming Brianna comes out in May, 2020. You can pre-order here. Hope you enjoy it!

Book 4 cover reveal!!

So excited to reveal this cover of my next book in the best-selling “Emmie & Friends” series: BECOMING BRIANNA. I’m also excited to bring back one of my beloved main characters (and her colorful family) from POSITIVELY IZZY. This book has been an absolute joy to work on, and it’s definitely influenced by personal experience. I hope you love it!

BB comes out in May, 2020. You can pre-order it here.

CXC, 2019!

I’m honored to be part of the top-notch comics festival, CXC, happening Sept 26-29 in Columbus, OH. I’ll be on a fantastic comic strip panel and will do a bunch of kids’ book related events as well as signings. Click for the full schedule.

Book Signing!

I will be at Appletree Books in Cleveland Heights, OH, on Saturday, September 7 from 2:30-4 pm. Hope to see you!

ILA Children’s Choices List!

Thrilled to announce that Positively Izzy received an incredible honor: it’s on 2019 ILA-CBC Children’s Choices list, a cooperative project of the International Literacy Association (ILA) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC). It was also one of the few titles that received the most votes.

“Each year, 12,500 school children from different regions of the United States read newly published children’s and young adults’ trade books and vote for the ones they like best. These Children’s Choices, selected from more than 900 titles, can be counted on as books children truly enjoy reading.”

For more info, click here.