What a wonderful State.

It’s a funny thing when you are a part of something and not a part of something but that thing, that you loved and helped birth but missed out on, is something that grows into something that everybody else in the world loves and adores. That’s how I feel about The State and those people who were in it.

There is a book coming out today called The Union of the State I can’t wait to read it and you should all go out and get it. I’m probably not mentioned in the book. I wouldn’t be, I was only there for the prologue. But since it’s an oral history, I thought this would be a good day to share my tiny memories of the very beginning of this comedy juggernaut and my wee hand in being a secret mama of the group.

I met most of the people in The State when I was 18 years old and I was at NYU. I had a freshman mentor, Mo Willems (you may know him from his Pigeon books) who had a comedy group called The Sterile Yak. I joined, because Mo was hysterical and brilliant and I just wanted to be close to him. Also, because sketch comedy is fun, who wouldn’t want to be funny all the time? It was in the Sterile Yak that I first met David Wain, Todd Holoubek and Craig Wedren. Maybe some others, but the time line gets fuzzy this many years later. I went to some shows and then was in one or two. But for some reason I what I remember most was doing sound with Craig Wedren for the group. Which makes no sense to me, but makes sense for him, because he is a brilliant musician. I am very bad at technical things, but I loved being in the booth with Craig. He called me Cecil Turtle, he still does when I see him, and I don’t know if it’s because I looked like a turtle or because I was so slow to understand the sound booth.

Sophomore year came around, this is Fall of 1988 now, and we were practicing and writing and improvising regularly. I remember that at the beginning of the year at rehearsal, some new people showed up, two of them being Michael Showalter and Kerri Kenney. Showalter and Kerri did a scene where they were two teenagers trying to ask each other out in a supermarket. They decided to do the scene as though they had lain down in the produce section and it was the most brilliant thing I had ever seen. I think about that improv quite a lot. I think about it when I am writing sometimes. I think about it in the produce section of grocery stores.

I remember that the Sterile Yak was getting too big. There were too many people and not everyone would get to perform. So the way I remember it is Todd and I decided that we should start a new group, which we called The New Group for lack of a better name. Also, I think I wanted to get out from under the shadow of Mo, who is a powerful personality. I think David Wain consulted with us. I just remember talking to David about it a lot. This new group and what it would be.

Todd and I booked a room in Hayden Hall, which was my dorm (maybe his as well?) and we auditioned people. We sat there and people came in and we shouted out things for them to do and I remember looking at names and scribbling down notes. Putting check marks and stars next to names. But what I remember most is that it was so obvious who should be in this new group. Because they were brilliant. If I remember correctly, that initial first group was me, Todd, Joe Lo Truglio, Mike Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Kerri Kenney, Ken Marino and Ben Garant. We started rehearsing in various dorm community rooms and booked our first show for January. There were even flyers. I remember that I was going to be in a few sketches. One of them had something to do with Charlie Brown. But then I had to quit the New Group because I had run out of money to go to college and I had to drop out of school. I never did that first show.

I moved to Montreal. I still wanted to do comedy and I tried to find a group of people in that new city to play around with, but while I found my way to a nice group of funny people, they weren’t my New Group. That group that I had helped to put together. The one filled with people who I thought were brilliant and special with a rare alchemy between them. I had made my dream group of people that I wanted to laugh and play with and then I had left them.

But, oh how proud I am to be a secret mama! How delightful it is to have had the tiniest of bit parts in bringing these geniuses together. What a thrill be a silver thread woven in that comedy tapestry. My heart bursts with pride every time I am lucky enough to catch up and run into any of them in person, or see them on my television or in a movie that they’ve done. They were all brilliantly talented when we were teenagers and they continue to make my arty heart soar whenever I see anything they do.

I love you guys! Congrats on the book and for being so amazingly kick ass in your contributions to culture. Hope to have a coffee/beer/laugh with all of you sometime again soon.

To everybody else, go buy the book now.  And go see, watch, read, support anything these people do. You will be very glad that you did.

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San Diego Comic Con Schedule

I will be at San Diego Comic Con July 8 – 12!  Here are the panels that I’m on so far.  I hope you will come to one of them, or to one of my booth signings!  Please say hello if you do.

Friday, July 10th

Panel

Comics and the Real World: Using Graphic Novels as Tools of Tolerance

Time: 1:00 – 2:00pm

Room: 30 CDE

Description: Comics are typically perceived as means of entertainment.  Panelists will demonstrate how they can be used to teach greater tolerance and understanding of the real world.  We’ll demonstrate how comics empower students to feel, access and comprehend historical and cultural events, more fully understand diverse figures in history and fiction, and even grasp concepts in science and math. Then we’ll suggest sample templates for having kids create their own comics as a means of teaching them how to diffuse personal issues and master alternate means of communication. There will be lesson and reading suggestion handouts and time for Q&A.

Signing

Time: 2:30pm – 3:30pm

Cecil Castellucci Signing in the MacTeen Booth

Panel

Building the Modern (Super)Heroine

6:30p.m. – 7:30p.m.

Room: 26AB

More and more, heroines are being positioned front and center on the page and screen. Katniss, Agent Carter, Tris, Furiosa, Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel – to name a few. What do creators and fans want out of a powerful female protagonist? How do we pay tribute to the heroines of the past while still looking toward the future? What’s the difference between writing established heroines and creating your own? And how can we best position and support these characters to usher in a whole new era of totally bad ass (super)heroines across all platforms? Join this dynamic group of creators and expert commentators as they discuss the challenges of building modern heroines in a variety of mediums. With Cecil Castellucci (Stone in the Sky), Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex), Andrea Letamendi (psychologist Arkham Sessions ) Jose Molina (Agent Carter) and Babs Tarr (Batgirl), moderated by Amy Ratcliffe (StarWars.com) Room: 26AB

Saturday, July 11th

Panel

CBLDF: Comics in the Classroom:  Real-World Ideas for Engaging Your Students with Comics.

Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Room 30CDE

Description: Comics are more than just great entertainment — they’re an incredible tool for learning! Join creators Cecil Castellucci (Odd DuckThe Plain Janes), Nathan Hale (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales), Matthew Holm (BabymouseSquish), Matt Phelan (The Storm in the Barn, Bluffton),Dave Roman (Astronaut AcademyJax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden) and educators Rose Brock and Dr. Meryl Jaffe for a lively workshop discussing how comics can be used to engage students in the classroom. Get real-world suggestions for ways to integrate comics in the classroom, to expand on lessons with comic-based activities, and to encourage student participation. We’ll also have lesson and reading suggestion handouts and time for Q&A. Moderated by CBLDF Editorial Director Betsy Gomez.

Panel

Kill Your Idols: The Anxiety of Influence

1:00p.m. – 2:00p.m.,

Room: 23ABC

Kill Your Idols: The Anxiety of Influence—How do you draw on the work that inspired you without simply imitating it? How do you transform your influences into something fresh? Lev Grossman (The Magicians), Cecil Castellucci (Tin Star) and Marc Bernardin (Genius) will discuss the alchemy of transmuting admiration into originality with moderator Douglas Wolk (Reading Comics). Room 32AB

Sunday, July 12th

Panel

The Girls Are Alright!

Time: 10:00am – 11:00am

Room 30CDE

Description: Female comic creators for kids and young adults are burning up the bestseller lists and winning awards. Listen in on this dynamic group of award-winning creators as they discuss the challenges and thrills of creating diverse heroines that appeal to a new generation of readers and hook them for a lifelong love of comics. Q&A and drawing to follow. Panelists including Jennifer Holm(Babymouse, Sunny Side Up), Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Sisters), Cece Bell (El Deafo), Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer), Jillian Tamaki(This One Summer), Cecil Castellucci (Odd Duck).  Moderated by Eva Volin (Good Comics for Kids at School Library Journal).

 

Signing

Time: 11:30am – 12:30pm

Cecil Castellucci Signing in the :01 Booth

Panel

Push Fun Forward: All-Ages Comics Have Arrived

Time: 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Room 24ABC

All-ages comics are important now more than ever in helping to bring in new and lapsed readers, from practically every demographic. BOOM! Studios associate editor Whitney Leopard leads a discussion on the significance of all-ages comics, from what they have achieved thus far to what lies ahead, with creators Mairghread Scott (Transformers: Windblade), Thom Zahler (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic), Aron Steinke (The Zoo Box), Ian McGinty (Munchkin), and Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy).

My San Diego Comic Con Schedule!

Friday

2:00pm – :01 Booth Signing
Cecil Castellucci (Odd Duck)

3:00pm – Panel
Walking the Line
Calvin Reid (Publishers Weekly editor) moderates a panel with Nick Abadzis (author of The Cigar That Fell in Love with a Pipe, Titan’s Doctor Who comic series, and the award-winning graphic novel Laika) Frank Cammuso (author of The Misadventures of Salem Hyde series), Kazu Kibuishi (writer and artist of theAmulet series, and editor of the Explorer series) Cecil Castellucci (Odd Duck) and Gene Luen Yang (writer and artist of the graphic novel Boxers & Saints) about the overlap between mainstream and alternative comics, and the possibility of a greater collaboration between the two.
Friday July 25, 2014 3:00pm – 4:00pm
Room 28DE

7:00pm – Eisner Awards
Wish me luck! I’m nominated along with Sara Varon for Odd Duck!

Saturday

10:00am – MacKids Booth Signing Booth 1117
Cecil Castellucci (Tin Star)*

*I will have Tin Star buttons and also a very limited number of printed out versions of the Tin Star RPG: A Simple Favor. If you want a copy of the game, please tweet me @misscecil or leave a message on my facebook page. Booth 1117

1:00pm – Panel
Future Landscapes
Whether it’s a dystopian society, the aftermath of an apocalypse, or an unknown intergalactic landing point, the way YA novels envision the future is often complex and layered with problems and untapped possibilities. A dynamic group of authors including Emily Lloyd Jones (Illusive), Benny Zelkowicz (Foundry’s Edge), Romina Russell (Zodiac), Michael Johnston (The Heart of Dread series), Pierce Brown (Red Rising), Cam Baity (Foundry’s Edge), Charles Yu (How to Survive in a Science Fiction Universe), Benny Zelkowitcz (Foundry’s Edge), and Cecil Castellucci (Tin Star) discuss how they create their worlds of tomorrow, the architecture and outlining involved, and what we learn about our contemporary selves as a result of these future landscapes.
Saturday July 26, 2014 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Room 28DE

2:30pm – Autographing Area Signing
Cecil Castellucci (Odd Duck/Tin Star)
AA09

Sunday

Panels and Pictures (A Graphic Novel Panel — Kids/YA)
Sunday, 7/27/14, 12:00p.m. – 1:00p.m., Room: 32AB
Description:
Learn about the latest in great graphic novels for kids, with Emily Carroll (Through the Woods), Kazu Kibuishi (Comics Squad: Recess),Cecil Castellucci (Odd Duck), Mike Maihack (Cleopatra in Space), and Raina Telgemeier (Sisters); moderated by Jenni Holm(Babymouse, Squish). In their discussion of what makes a graphic novel “for kids,” their creative processes, and their latest books, these fantastic cartoonists will show you that new young readers are the heart of the graphic novel industry.

01:30 PM – 02:30 PM Autograph Area Signing AA09

Wondercon Schedule!

I’ll be at WONDERCON this weekend.  I’ll be talking TIN STAR (I’ll have buttons to give away!) and glowing about ODD DUCK’s Eisner nomination!  Come say hello!  It’s in Anaheim!

Saturday, 04/19

4:30-5:30 SFF for Kids: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility – Frank Beddor (NY Times bestselling author of The Looking Glass Wars), Nancy Holder (NY Times bestselling author of On Fire: A Teen Wolf Novel), Shannon Messenger (Keeper of the Lost Cities), and Dan Yaccarino (Emmy-winning author/illustrator of Doug Unplugged) and Cecil Castellucci (Tin Star). This panel comprises science fiction and fantasy authors. We’ll discuss writing speculative fiction for kids, from Picture Book through Young Adult). Moderated by Henry Herz (Nimpentoad). Room 213

Signing at Mysterious Galaxy immediately afterwards.  Booth 709

Sunday, 04/20 (Easter)
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Surviving Well

Saving the world, etc. is always important, but so is the quality of life for the survivors. Guest Marjorie Liu (Labyrinth of Stars), Cecil Castellucci (The Tin Star), Genese Davis (The Holder’s Domain) , John Mulhall (Geddy’s Moon) and Gretchen McNeil (3:59) discuss when “just” saving the world is not enough. With moderator LeAnna Herrera of Mysterious Galaxy. Room 208

Signing at Mysterious Galaxy at 3 PM.  Booth 709.

Tin Star RPG Game!

Hello! As you all know, TIN STAR is out (hope you’ve picked up your copy )

I love Tula Bane’s world and I thought it might be fun to play in it! So my brother and I have created a tabletop RPG True 20 game based on the book Tin Star! Grab yourself a 20 sided die order a pizza and invite a bunch of friends over! You can play a bunch of aliens who land on the Yertina Feray and interact with the characters from the book!

DOWNLOAD THE TIN STAR GAME HERE *note. you should download both files the quick start rules and the adventure.

Get it on Scribd: Tin Star QuickStart Rules
Tin Star: A Simple Favor Adventure Module

I got the idea to create a game when visiting my good friend Chris Prams, publisher of Green Ronin Games! They created the True 20 system, which is an open license system. Check out their True 20 games here!

I hope you will enjoy playing! If you have any questions or any trouble downloading the game you can email me and my brother at tinstargame (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet us @tinstargame

Have fun!

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TIN STAR ARC giveaway!

I’m back from Comic Con!  I’ve got a couple of ARCs of TIN STAR to giveaway for those of you who couldn’t be in San Diego to snag one!

Leave your name in the comments (or tweet me or on the facebook comments) along with your fave alien / human friendship/relationship (just for dorky fun!) and I’ll draw the winners at random on August 1st.

On their way to start a new life, Tula and her family travel on the Prairie Rose, a colony ship headed to a planet in the outer reaches of the galaxy. All is going well until the ship makes a stop at a remote space station, the Yertina Feray, and the colonist’s leader, Brother Blue, beats Tula within an inch of her life. An alien, Heckleck, saves her and teaches her the ways of life on the space station.

You can read an excerpt of TIN STAR over at tor.com

add it at goodreads!
Tin Star

Tin Star Cover and Chapter 1 Excerpt!

Behold! The cover of my new science fiction novel TIN STAR! It was revealed yesterday on io9 (thanks, io9!)

You can read Chapter One in an excerpt over at Tor.com

I’ll be signing Advanced Reader copies at Comic Con at the MacKids Booth #1220 on Thursday, July 18th at 3 PM. And of course I’ll snag a few to do a giveaway when I come back for those who can’t be at comic con and want to read it in advance of it’s 2/14 release!

TIN STAR orignal

Meanwhile, you can add it at goodreads shelf or pre-order it from indiebound, amazon, powells, b&n

Yappiest Day round up!

This past weekend I participated in the Yappiest Day on Earth!  the brain child of Cat Patrick.  It was 16 YA authors, bloggers and librarians and you!  Imagine us all running around Disneyland with matching blue shirts like we were on a school trip.  Every ride to conquer!  Thrilling screams to be had!

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Here we are before our adventure began!

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I wanted to go onto the Winnie the Pooh ride.  BUT WE GOT STUCK IN THE HONEYCOMB!

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Or as Kevin Emerson, Sean Beaudoin, Rachel Cohn and I now will say for all things that suddenly go wrong: “Tigger spilt some honey on the tracks.”

Kevin Emerson and I in the Pooh “trap.”

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I also went on Splash Mountain which was wet.  I was terrified at the drop.

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Me and Gabrielle Zevin pre-drop.  We talked a lot about the Bears. And Zippity Doo Dah.

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I spent a lot of the day hanging with Sean Beaudoin.  He even won me a stuffed mouse at the midway in California Adventure.  He also won a Dumbo that he gave to a tiny child who waddled off with the biggest grin on her face.   He also snuck in some Cruella de Ville time.

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Anyway, it was a fun day and much thanks to Harper Collins for sponsoring the book signing afterwards and to Mysterious Galaxy for selling books.

Thanks to all of those who came out!  You should totally come next year.