2023 Creators in Conversation 1: Making Comics for Kids Again

Making Comics for Kids Again

Sat 16 September 2023, 10:45-11:45am
Studio 01, Adelaide City Library, Level 3 Rundle Place, 77-91 Rundle Mall, Adelaide, South Australia

Cost: FREE (no booking required, but RSVPing on Facebookย will help us know how many people to expect)ย 

Gavin Aung Than (WA), Dan McGuiness (SA) and Kay O’Neill (NZ), with Dave Follett (SA) (chair)

Bam! Pow! Zap! Comics aren’t just for adults any more. In the decades following Watchmenย andย The Dark Knight Returns, comics were dominated by grim and gritty reboots. But creators and publishers are reengaging with younger readers, and achieving worldwide success in the process. Join our panel of prominent graphic novelists as they discuss the joys and challenges of creating comics for all ages. From gentle fantasy to laugh-out-loud comedy, these authors are inspiring the next generation of comics readers. Just like our panellistsโ€™ books, this session will capture your imagination and stir your heart.

All guests will be available to sign books after the panel, and some panellists will have work for sale.

This session will feature sign interpretation in Auslan, provided by Deaf Connect.


Gavin Aung Than

Gavin Aung Than (he/him) is a New York Times bestselling cartoonist from Perth. At the start of 2012, after working in corporate graphic design for eight years, Gavin launched his comic career with Zen Pencils, a cartoon blog that adapts inspirational quotes into comic stories. He then went on to write and illustrate the middle grade graphic novel series Super Sidekicks, published by Puffin Books and Random House Childrenโ€™s Books. His second novel in the series, Super Sidekicks 2: Oceanโ€™s Revenge, won the 2020 Environmental Award for Childrenโ€™s Literature in Fiction.

Zen Pencils has been featured by The Washington Post, National Geographic, Slate, Buzzfeed, Gawker and Brain Pickings, as well as having been named one of the Internetโ€™s top 100 websites in 2013 by PCMag. Gavin’s Zen Pencils comics have since been collected into four books, two of which landed on the New York Times bestseller list for graphic novels.

Gavin has recently contributed illustrations to the latest book by #1 NYT bestselling author Brenรฉ Brown, Atlas of the Heart, and his debut picture book, Baa Baa Black Belt, was released in July 2023. He is currently working on a middle grade graphic novel about a hospital for mythical creatures, due out in 2024.

Dan McGuiness

Dan McGuiness (he/him) is an author and illustrator based in South Australia. He began his career with the childrenโ€™s graphic novel series Pilot and Huxley, which was published both locally and internationally across multiple countries. As an illustrator, he has worked on a number of Australian books published by Scholastic, including Buzz Off, Drongoes, 45 1/2 Excuses for NOT Doing Homework, and the highly successful Hot Dog! series written by Anh Do.

Dan’s love of creating comics began when he worked at his local comic shop. It was there that he was inspired to draw comics about his colleagues and the events of the store. Dan would go on to create and print his own independent works that he sold at pop culture conventions around Australia.

He is currently a co-owner of the Adelaide-based Greenlight Comics shop. As a successful author and illustrator, Dan can be seen travelling around Australia once more, visiting schools to talk about his path to publication and the history of graphic novels, and to give interactive character creation sessions that encourage young artists.

Kay O’Neill

Kay O’Neill (they/them) is a self-taught writer and illustrator based in Aotearoa, New Zealand. After beginning their career creating webcomics and building a fanbase through their Tumblr page, their comic Princess Princess was published as the middle-grade graphic novel Princess Princess Ever After by Oni Press. Kay went on to publish three all-ages graphic novels as part of The Tea Dragon Society series, and the stand-alone graphic novels Aquicorn Cove and Dewdrop. When not working on a book, Kay is a full-time freelance illustrator.

Kayโ€™s graphic novels have won multiple awards, with the first book of The Tea Dragon Society series winning a Harvey Award, two Eisner Awards, and a Dwayne McDuffie Award for Kidsโ€™ Comics. Princess Princess Ever After was also nominated for a Cybils Award and won the Favorite Graphic Novel/Book from Autostraddle, while Aquicorn Cove was nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12). The Tea Dragon Society and Princess Princess Ever After have also each made the Rainbow Book list in consecutive years.

Kayโ€™s work is often interested in nature, creatures, mindfulness and the magic of everyday life. In their most recently released graphic novel, The Moth Keeper, they explore these themes around natural symbiotic relationships and the power of community.

Dave Follett (chair)

Dave Follett (he/him) is a concept and storyboard artist, comic creator, and freelance illustrator from South Australia. His debut science fiction graphic novel, Uncle Silas: GENETIS, published by Dark Horse, won the 2011 Stanley Award for Best Comic Book Artist from the Australian Cartoonists Association.

Since 2006, David has been working with Watermark Creative, producing illustrations for editorial, publishing, storyboarding, and designing for television, animation series and movies. He also works for the Mighty Kingdom games company as a Senior 2D Artist. His upcoming works include a YA fantasy adventure graphic novel, Fia & Miguel, as well as Uncle Silas 2: EARTH, the sequel to his debut.