- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 20, 2014

A well-known cartoonist has chosen an area comic-book store to host the national release party for his latest graphic novel — a boost to stores that carry graphic novels, but are often overlooked by publishers in favor of traditional bookstores.

Beyond Comics in Frederick, Md., will host its first prerelease event on Friday, for Jimmy Gownley’s new graphic novel, “The Dumbest Idea Ever!”

Mr. Gownley is best known for creating and publishing “Amelia Rules!” — a series for young adults that for the past 10 years has addressed themes such as the meaning of life, divorce, and moving to a new town through the perspective of a young girl, Amelia.

His new book, which will be released this month, is geared toward readers in grades 5 through 8 and dives into the struggle of coming up with comic ideas.

Beyond Comics owner Jon Cohen said his store hosts book signings fairly often, but this is the first time it will host a prerelease event.

“Publishers like to do book launches at bookstores, not comic-book shops. This is a big step. They rarely consider us,” he said.

Mr. Cohen said Mr. Gownley opted to have the prerelease event at Beyond Comics because Mr. Gownley is a big comic-book store supporter.

“I talked with him last year, and he said that would be cool to have the release here,” Mr. Cohen said. “He prefers to support the comic-store industry.”

Mr. Gownley said he remembers his roots as he started out in the comic stores 10 years ago with “Amelia Rules!”

“Any chance you get as a cartoonist who started in the comic book stores, to go back and repay them is great,” he said.

Mr. Cohen said they expect to draw a much bigger crowd than a bookstore could because Beyond Comics specifically caters to the graphic-novels market.

“Comic books and graphic novels for decades existed because of comic book shops. And as they became more accepted in wider culture, which is good, but it leaves the comic book shop out,” Mr. Gownley said.

The graphic novel won’t be available until Tuesday, but fans can purchase it at Beyond Comics on Friday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and get their copy signed by Mr. Gownley.

The author also planned visit to four schools in Frederick and Montgomery counties to share his interactive presentation “How Do Cartoonists Get Their Ideas?”

“It’s my favorite thing to do. I love doing my presentation because it’s fun, and it’s one of the few times when I get to interact with the audience because comic book writing is such a solitary thing,” Mr. Gownley said.

Mr. Gownley spoke at Little Bennett Elementary and Great Seneca Elementary in Montgomery County Thursday. He was scheduled to visit Thurmont Middle and Walkersville Elementary in Frederick County on Friday.

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