Tag: Mike Curato

Don’t Miss These Banned Books Week Coalition Facebook Live Events!

Banned Books is almost here! Banned Books Week officially kicks off on Sunday, and we’re excited to have an amazing lineup of Facebook livestreams to mark the week! Check them out!

All events are free — simply join the Banned Books Week Facebook page at the appointed hour! These are a great opportunity to engage your students or patrons in Banned Books Week programming, and each event will feature a short Q&A.

Youth Honorary Chair Cameron Samuels Leads a Conversation on Youth Activism

Monday, September 19, 6:00 p.m. EDT

What is it like to be the only teen protesting censorship at school board meetings? How do you go from being the only voice of opposition to leading the fight against censorship in your community – and inspiring others to do the same? In this program, Banned Books Week Honorary Chair Cameron Samuels (they/them) will lead a conversation with youth activists from around the United States. These inspiring young leaders will talk about their experiences and share their ideas for how others can get involved! More info…

Banned Books Week Honorary Chair George M. Johnson’s Moment in the Spotlight

Tuesday, September 20, 1:00 p.m. EDT

Join Banned Books Week Honorary Chair George M. Johnson for an intimate conversation about censorship and how it impacts readers, especially young adults. Johnson will discuss the censorship of their critically acclaimed bestselling novel All Boys Aren’t Blue, which was the third title on the American Library Association’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021, and the ongoing attacks on books and information related to LGBTQ+ identity. This one-on-one conversation will be led by Freedom to Read Foundation President and librarian Peter Coyl and include a short Q&A. More info…

Angie Thomas and Jerry Craft Get Real About Censorship

Wednesday, September 21, 6:00 p.m. EDT

Join New York Times bestselling authors Angie Thomas (The Hate U GiveOn the Come UpConcrete Rose) and Jerry Craft (New KidClass Act) for a conversation about the censorship of books dealing with racial identity and racism. The authors will discuss the censorship of their work and the implications for readers, authors, and the community. They will be joined by Jeremy C. Young, Senior Manager of Free Expression and Education at PEN America, who will offer perspective on how legislation is impacting and even fueling censorship. The program will be moderated by Amber Payne Co-Editor in Chief for The Emancipator, a digital commentary platform born from a collaboration between The Boston Globe and Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research.

Event made possible with the support of HarperCollins Publishers. More info…

Maia Kobabe and Mike Curato Explain Why LGBTQ+ Comics Belong in Schools and Libraries

Thursday, September 22, 5:00 p.m. EDT

Comic books have been targeted by censors for decades, from 1954 Senate subcommittee hearings about their alleged link to juvenile delinquency, to the implementation of a content code that nearly destroyed the industry, to today’s widespread attacks on comics, especially those that share the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals. Join the creators of two of today’s most acclaimed and frequently censored graphic novels — Maia Kobabe (Gender Queer) and Mike Curato (Flamer) — for a conversation about the attempts to censor their work and LGBTQ+ stories. Greg Rokisky, Senior Manager of Digital Strategy at PFLAG National, and Jordan Smith, Digital Editor at Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, will lead the conversation. More info…

Can’t make it live? We have you covered! All events will be recorded and released on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel after Banned Books Week.

The individual members of the Banned Books Week Coalition are also hosting events throughout the week! We’ll have a rundown for you before it kicks off, and you can find them in the Banned Books Week events calendar here. (Hint: Look for the Featured events!)


Banned Books Week is the annual celebration of the freedom to read. The event is sponsored by a coalition of organizations dedicated to free expression, including American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Amnesty International USA, Association of University Presses, Authors Guild, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), Freedom to Read Foundation, GLAAD, Index on Censorship, National Book Foundation, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN America, People For the American Way Foundation, PFLAG, and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Banned Books Week also receives generous support from HarperCollins Publishers and Penguin Random House.

The Censorship of LGBTQ+ Comic Books with Maia Kobabe and Mike Curato

Comic books have been targeted by censors for decades, from 1954 Senate subcommittee hearings about their alleged link to juvenile delinquency, to the implementation of a content code that nearly destroyed the industry, to today’s widespread attacks on comics, especially those that share the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals. Join the creators of two of today’s most acclaimed and frequently censored graphic novels — Maia Kobabe (Gender Queer) and Mike Curato (Flamer) — for a conversation about the attempts to censor their work and LGBTQ+ stories. Greg Rokisky, Senior Manager of Digital Strategy at PFLAG National, and Jordan Smith, Digital Editor at Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, will lead the conversation. 

This event will stream LIVE on the Banned Books Week Facebook page on September 22 at 5:00 p.m. EDT: @BannedBooksWeek

About the Panelists

Mike Curato loves drawing and writing almost as much as he loves cupcakes and ice cream (and that’s a LOT!). He is the author and illustrator of everyone’s favorite polka-dotted elephant, Little Elliot. His debut title, Little Elliot, Big City, released in 2014 to critical acclaim, has won several awards, and has been translated into over ten languages. There are now five books in the Little Elliot series, including Little Elliot, Big Family; Little Elliot, Big Fun; Little Elliot, Fall Friends; and Merry Christmas, Little Elliot. Meanwhile, Mike had the pleasure of illustrating What If… by Samantha Berger, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, The Power of One written by Trudy Ludwig, and contributed to What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends, Sunny Day: A Celebration of the Sesame Street Theme Song, and Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love. Publishers Weekly named Mike a “Fall 2014 Flying Start.” In the same year he won the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show Founder’s Award. Mike’s debut young adult graphic novel, Flamer, was awarded the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Young Adult and the 2021 Massachusetts Book Award for Middle Grade/Young Adult.

Maia Kobabe is a graduate of the first ever class in the MFA in Comics program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Eir first full length book, Gender Queer: A Memoir, came out from Lion Forge Comics/Oni Press in May 2019. Gender Queer was a winner of an Alex Award and Stonewall Honor in 2020, and it was nominated for an Ignatz Award and appeared on the Best Graphic Novels for Teens List from YALSA in 2019. It was also the most challenged book in the United States in 2021. Maia’s short comics have been published in The Nib, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and numerous anthologies. E has also illustrated the YA prose novel We Are the Fire, We Are the Ashes written by Joy McCullough (2021).

Find resources to help fight Gender Queer book challenges here: bit.ly/GenderQueerbans

About the Moderators

Greg Rokisky is the Senior Manager, Digital Strategy for PFLAG National, creating engaging stories and conversations across all social and digital channels.

Based in Lansing, Mich., Greg has nearly a decade’s worth of experience in mission-driven strategic communications, public relations, and marketing work in nonprofit, corporate, and agency settings. Prior to PFLAG National, he worked as the Assistant Director of Marketing for Michigan’s public education association in service to thousands of the state’s elected school board members. He’s worked on strategic activations with brands like Zappos and Angry Birds, with influencers like Shaquille O’Neal and Frankie Grande, and on public affairs and advocacy campaigns to change hearts, minds, and policy. When it comes down to it, he is a data-driven, detail-oriented creative with a love for furthering inclusive and intersectional organizational objectives through all means of communicating and storytelling.

On the daily, Greg is fueled by a constant flow of black iced coffee, endless shelves of books, and the latest binge-worthy entertainment.

Jordan Smith is a freelance editor, writer, and actor. He also serves as the digital editor for Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Coming from a background as a literary manager for the stage, Jordan believes in the power of storytelling. As an actor, Jordan supplied the motion reference and voice of Ghal-Sur in the recent rotoscoped dark fantasy film The Spine of Night.

Virtual Event: Defending LGBTQ Literature in Oklahoma

Join PEN Tulsa for a virtual conversation addressing the homophobia and transphobia embedded in the recent wave of book bans in Oklahoma and across the country. Moderated by Tulsa-based writer and publisher Ryan Fitzgibbon, the conversation will feature celebrated author and illustrator Mike Curato and PEN Across America Director Program William Johnson. This conversation will offer strategies on how to push back against the recent book bans, while also offering a space to celebrate queer literature in all of its forms.

REGISTER HERE

Mike Curato loves drawing and writing almost as much as he loves cupcakes and ice cream (and that’s a LOT!). He is the author and illustrator of everyone’s favorite polka-dotted elephant, Little Elliot. His debut title—Little Elliot, Big City—released in 2014 to critical acclaim, has won several awards, and has been translated into over ten languages. There are now five books in the Little Elliot series, including Little ElliotBig Family; Little ElliotBig Fun; Little ElliotFall Friends; and Merry ChristmasLittle Elliot. Meanwhile, Mike had the pleasure of illustrating What If… by Samantha Berger, All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, The Power of One written by Trudy Ludwig. He has also contributed to What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends, Sunny Day: A Celebration of the Sesame Street Theme Song, and Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of LovePublishers Weekly named Mike a “Fall 2014 Flying Start.” In the same year, he won the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show Founder’s Award. Mike’s debut young adult graphic novel, Flamer, was awarded the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Young Adult and the 2021 Massachusetts Book Award for Middle Grade/Young Adult.

William Johnson is the PEN Across America program director at PEN America. A longtime steward in the writing community, Johnson was the editor and publisher of Mary Literary, a literary magazine committed to showcasing work of artistic integrity. He also co-produced Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color, the first major anthology for queer poets of color in the United States. In 2011, Johnson began his tenure at Lambda Literary, an organization dedicated to promoting LGBTQ literature. As the deputy director of Lambda Literary, Johnson oversaw many of the organization’s most dynamic programs and public events, including the Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices and Lambda’s web magazine, the Lambda Literary Review.

In 2021, Johnson was awarded The Publishing Triangle’s Leadership Award, an award recognizing contributions to LGBTQ literature by those who are not primarily writers, such as editors, agents, librarians, and institutions.

Ryan Fitzgibbon is a publisher and creative independent living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. From 2012-2018, Ryan published ten issues of the LGBTQ magazine, Hello Mr., coinciding with a zine residency at Brooklyn, New York. Prior to launching his debut publication, he worked in San Francisco at the design and innovation firm IDEO. Over the last decade, Ryan has served on the boards of AIGA and of The Gay Men’s Health Crisis. He has judged several design award shows, including D&AD and ADC/The One Show, has spoken at numerous design conferences, and was named one of 30 “New Visual Artists under 30” by PRINT magazine. Shortly after moving to Tulsa at the beginning of 2020, Ryan was diagnosed with HIV, inspiring the creation of In Our Blood, a guide to detect, exercise, and replenish your inner activist. He’s put his experience to work supporting the publishing pursuits of The Black Wall Street Times. Most recently, he co-founded HANK, the digital marketplace contextualizing queer goods, named after Hanky Code, first popularized in the ‘70s by gay men flagging themselves with handkerchiefs to showcase sexual preferences. Ryan received a BFA in 2009 from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2012, he participated in a trial residency at FABRICA, the communications research centre in Treviso, Italy where COLORS magazine is produced.