Something else the panel discussed was writing for children in general. They came to the conclusion that while it is more difficult to write for children, stories that are written with a specific audience in mind tend to feel inauthentic. So again, it comes down to story. Is it a good story? Do I care about the characters? Do I want to know what happens next? A good story will appeal to all kinds of people - male, female, young, old, whatever.
And speaking of good stories, I happened to read the graphic novel Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel yesterday. I know that this book has been getting lots of good reviews and is landing on a lot of top ten lists so I thought I'd give it a looksee. It is a fantastic book. Frank Gallows is a sort of hard boiled ghost hunter whose work is a bit sloppy. Garth Hale is a kid who's been diagnosed with an unnamed terminal disease. Their paths cross when Gallows accidentally sends Garth to the afterlife with a captured ghost. While Frank must find a way to get Garth back to the living world, Garth discovers he has powers in the after life and uses them to battle the evil ruler of Ghostopolis, and free the city of the dead from his reign of terror. Although this book is at a second grade reading level, the subject matter puts it at no less than a fifth grade interest level, in my opinion. The story is very well written and it only feels a little bit like a book written for kids, it certainly doesn't read like a second grade book! The pictures are dark and edgy and would definitely appeal to the older kids. I was raving about it to Mr. Richards and now he's reading it himself!
So, to wrap up this whole thing, as Mr. Richards and I talked about the day, we came away with the feeling that the thing that everyone at that convention center had in common was the love of a good story, whether it was the people writing episodes for a popular british science fiction TV show, people drawing pictures for comic books, or the people who dressed up as their favorite characters, everyone was celebrating stories and storytelling. We felt pretty lucky to have been a small part of that today.