Keynote Speakers

John JenningsJohn Jennings is co-illustrator of the graphic novel I Am Alfonso Jones and the New York Times bestselling illustrator of the graphic novel adaptation of Kindred by Octavia Butler. He is a professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside, and the Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellowship at Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. Jennings lives in California.

Gene Luen YangGene Luen Yang is a cartoonist, teacher and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His Eisner Award-winning book American Born Chinese (First Second Books) was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and to win the ALA’s Printz Award. Boxers & Saints (First Second Books) was nominated for a National Book Award and won the L.A. Times Book Prize. Yang made his mainstream comics debut on Superman and currently writes New Superman (DC Comics).


Katherine ArdenBorn in Austin, TX, Katherine Arden has always been a wanderer. She spent her junior year of high school in Rennes, France. Following her acceptance to Middlebury College in Vermont, Katherine deferred enrollment for a year in order to live and study in Moscow, Russia. At Middlebury, she specialized in French and Russian literature, taking eight months’ study abroad in Paris and another eight months in Moscow. Having received her BA magna cum laude, Katherine moved to Maui, Hawaii, where she worked every kind of odd job imaginable, including guiding horse tours, working as a personal tour guide for international visitors, making crepes in a stand, and doing freelance grant writing. After two years on the island, is currently living in France again and writing full time.

Pierce BrownPierce Brown spent his childhood building forts and setting traps for cousins in the woods of six states and the deserts of two. Graduating college in 2010, he fancied the idea of continuing his studies at Hogwarts. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a magical bone in body. So while trying to make it as a writer, he worked as a manager of social media at a startup tech company, toiled as a peon on the Disney lot at ABC Studios, did his time as an NBC page, and gave sleep deprivation a new meaning during his stint as an aide on a U.S. Senate Campaign. Now he lives Los Angeles, where he scribbles tales of spaceships, wizards, ghouls, and most things dark or bizarre. @pierce_brown

Edgar CanteroEdgar Cantero is a writer and cartoonist from Barcelona who works in Catalan, Spanish, and English. He is the author of The Supernatural Enhancements.

Kristi ChadwickKristi Chadwick is the Science Fiction/Fantasy columnist for Library Journal and a Consultant for the Massachusetts Library System. In addition to being a 2013 LJ Reviewer of the Year and 2014 Mover & Shaker, she has also been a finalist judge for the 2015–2017 LJ SELF-e Award in Science Fiction & Fantasy. Kristi likes to impart her views on libraries, coffee, cheese, and the Oxford Comma on Twitter at @booksnyarn.

Helen CrossonHelen Crosson is the Director of the Half Hollow Hills Library, a key institution in a diverse community providing space, resources and instruction to support the cultural, educational and social needs of the community. Ms. Crosson came to the Half Hollow Hills Library in January 2015 after having served as the Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Library & Environmental Center for 15 years. Her most recent achievement was getting a bond passed by a 2:1 margin to build a new library. Helen’s previous achievement stands on a hill overlooking Cold Spring Harbor, a 27,000 square-foot library that blends the latest technology with the look and feel of the community’s history. Helen has the vision and management skills to make manifest all a library can be in a suburban setting.

Joshua DysartJoshua Dysart has contributed to Hellboy, Swamp Thing and other works, including Unknown Soldier which he spent time in Uganda researching. He’s one of the key creators of Valiant Entertainment and in 2014 went to Iraq to interview refugees fleeing ISIS for his, Living Level-3: Iraq. In 2016 he was in South Sudan investigating mass migrations fleeing food insecurity for the sequel Living Level-3: South Sudan. In 2017 he was given the Giordano Humanitarian Award.

Grace EllisGrace Ellis is a writer best known for co-creating and co-writing Lumberjanes, a New York Times bestselling, Eisner and GLAAD Award-winning comic, though you won’t hear her brag about it unless you ask her directly. She has written several episodes of the animated series Bravest Warriors. Grace lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she co-parents a preternaturally smart cat, even though she’s more of a dog person.

Sina GraceSina Grace is a writer, artist, and—because he started at the age of 17—a comics veteran. He has drawn several series (Burn the Orphanage, Li’l Depressed Boy), worked as Editorial Director for Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman’s Skybound imprint at Image Comics, and produced a web-series off his graphic novel, Self-Obsessed, which he also starred in. Nothing Lasts Forever is his latest entry into reflective memoir, and he currently writes Iceman for Marvel Comics. He lives in Los Angeles with his dog (Henry), and cat (Amelia).

Liz HughesLiz Hughes is a full-time Children’s Librarian at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library in Dix Hills, NY. She also works part-time as a Youth Services Librarian at the South Huntington Public Library in Huntington Station, NY. She received her MLS from Queens College in 2014 and holds a BA in Journalism from the University at Albany.

Sheena C. HowardDr. Sheena C. Howard, is Associate Professor of Communication at Rider University. Howard is an award-winning author, including a 2014 Eisner Award winner for her first book, Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation (2013). She is also the author of Black Queer Identity Matrix (2014), Critical Articulations of Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation (2014) and Encyclopedia of Black Comics (2017). In 2016, Howard wrote, produced and directed her first film, Remixing Colorblind. Howard has appeared on NPR (National Public Radio), the Washington Post, ABC, and PBS, as well as other networks and documentaries as an expert on popular culture, race, politics and sexual identity negotiation.

Fonda LeeFonda Lee is the award-winning author of the YA science fiction novels Zeroboxer and Exo. Born and raised in Canada, Lee is a black belt martial artist, a former corporate strategist, and action movie aficionado who now lives in Portland, Oregon with her family. Jade City is her adult debut.

Marissa LiebermanMarissa Lieberman is a children’s librarian at the East Orange Public Library where she loves to share her passion for graphic novels and anime by running the tween anime club and planning Tosho-con, her library’s annual comic and anime convention. Marissa has presented at NY Comic Con, Long Island Pop Con, and the NJ Library Association conference. She is book reviewer and contributor for School Library Journal, Voices of Youth Advocates and No Flying No Tights.

TonyMedinaTony Medina is the author of six beloved books for young readers, as well as multiple volumes of poetry for adults. A Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and a professor of creative writing at Howard University, Dr. Medina is a two-time winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People. He lives in the Washington, DC area.

MaggieNovarioMaggie Novario is a Program Services Librarian at the Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries (WA). She plans and delivers district-wide programs, including Summer Reading and outreach to the juvenile detention center. In her previous position, she was a Teen Librarian and she still enjoys the challenge of making the library relevant and responsive to teens.

AxieOhAxie Oh is a first-generation Korean American, born in New York City and raised in New Jersey. She studied Korean history and creative writing as an undergrad at the University of California San Diego and holds an MFA in Writing for Young People from Lesley University. Her passions include K-pop, anime, stationery supplies, and milk tea, and she currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her puppy, Toro (named after Totoro).

Cyril PedrosaBorn in 1972 in Poitiers, France, Cyril Pedrosa studied animation at the prestigious Gobelins. He worked on Disney animated films where he acquired a speed of execution and a sense of movement that will later serve him well. A star in graphic storytelling, his unique work is a product of his animation background combined with literary influences of Borges, Marquez, and Tolkien. His moving journal of going back to his family roots, Portugal (Europe Comics 2015, NBM 12/2017) has earned him Europe’s most prestigious comics awards, and was followed by the Eisner-nominated Equinoxes (NBM, 2016).

Jason PuckettJason Puckett is an Online Learning Librarian at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and a Library Journal reviewer and contributor. He’s the author of the ACRL books Zotero: a Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Educators, and Modern Pathfinders.

Alex SeguraAlex Segura is a novelist and comic book writer. He is the author of the “Pete Fernandez Miami Mystery” novels, which include Silent City, Down the Darkest Street, Dangerous Ends, and the upcoming Blackout (May 2018), all via Polis Books.

He has also written a number of comic books, including the best-selling and critically-acclaimed “Archie Meets KISS” storyline, the “Occupy Riverdale” story, the Archie Meets Ramones and “The Archies” one-shots, and “The Archies” ongoing series.

His work has appeared in the anthologies Protectors 2, Waiting to Be Forgotten: Stories of Crime and Heartbreak Inspired by The Replacements, and Apollo’s Daughters, as well as in publications including The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Strand, Mental Floss, LitReactor, and more.

A Miami native, he lives in New York with his wife and son.

Christina 'Steenz' StewartChristina ‘Steenz’ Stewart is a St. Louis based cartoonist. She has illustrated Archival Quality from Oni Press among other short stories in anthologies such as Elements: Fire, Mine!, and Princeless. Steenz has a history of creating and running comics related programming such as Comics University from her time as a comic shop manager and a comics-focused librarian. She is currently the Social Media and Community Manager at Lion Forge Comics!

Jill ThompsonJill Thompson is a writer, illustrator and comic book artist. Her “Scary Godmother” tales have been featured in graphic novels, comics, a play and on the Cartoon Network. She has published three volumes in her Magic Trixie (HarperCollins) series. Her comics work includes a celebrated run on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman and several related works set within the world of the Dreaming. Her most recent work includes Beasts of Burden (Dark Horse) and Wonder Woman: The True Amazon (DC Comics).

Brenna ThummlerBrenna Thummler grew up in northwestern Pennsylvania, where she developed a great love for nature trails, peanut butter, and, above all, drawing. A graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design, she was named the Society of Illustrators’ Zankel Scholar during her junior year. Since graduation, she has done editorial and advertising work for such clients as The New York Times, the Washington Post, Razorfish, and Empathic Films LLC. Anne of Green Gables is her first graphic novel but won’t be her last; she’s currently writing and illustrating her own, Sheets, which will be released fall of 2018. In those rare moments when she’s not creating art, you might find her dancing, making music, baking cheesecakes, or spending time with kindred spirits.

Peter J. TomasiPeter J. Tomasi is a New York Times best-selling author known for his work on Superman, Batman and Robin, Super Sons, Superman/Wonder Woman and Batman—Detective Comics. Over the course of his two-decade career with DC Comics, Peter has served as a group editor for Batman, Green Lantern, and JSA along with special projects like Kingdom Come. Peter is also the author of Light Brigade (Dark Horse), The Mighty (Dark Horse) and the critically-acclaimed horror/drama series, House of Penance (Dark Horse).

Scott WesterfeldScott Westerfeld is the author of the “Spill Zone” graphic novel series, the worldwide bestselling “Uglies” series, the Locus Award–winning “Leviathan” series, and is co-author of the “Zeroes” trilogy. His other novels include the New York Times bestseller Afterworlds, The Last Days, Peeps, So Yesterday, and the “Midnighters” trilogy.

Ivy WeirIvy Noelle Weir is the publicity and marketing assistant at Quirk Books. Prior to joining the Quirk team, she worked for four years as a young adult librarian, and has authored numerous articles and presentations on the role of pop culture and comics in libraries. Ivy also serves as an administrator for The Valkyries and Valkyries Valhalla, two worldwide organizations for female and non-binary retail and library workers who are passionate about comics. Her first graphic novel, Archival Quality with Steenz Stewart, will be released by Oni Press in March 2018.

Keezy YoungKeezy Young is a comic artist and illustrator based out of Seattle. She grew up drawing on her mother’s walls, sneakily staying up late to read by nightlight, and later, cutting class to go to the library and sketch. Today, Keezy writes and draws her own YA comics. Her stories are cute, eerie, and sometimes dark, but always hopeful at their core, and they often explore LGBTQIA characters and themes. @keezybees


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