Brooklyn Book Festival panel

First in-person book event for ‘WE HEREBY REFUSE”

After nearly two years, it felt great to be able to share our new graphic novel with a live audience.

speakers at panel
(photo: Yukiko Hanawa)

The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary festival in New York City, and readers appeared eager to get out in public and flock to the bookseller tents in the plaza of Borough Hall.

Our book on resistance to wartime incarceration fit right in with the panel titled “From the Past to the Future” in  the Founders Hall of St. Francis College. It was fascinating to share the stage with other writers who did the same thing we did — research unknown stories and present them as graphic novels. We heard from Brian K. Mitchell about MONUMENTAL, his story of the first Black lieutenant governor and acting governor in American history; Bill Campbell with THE DAY THE KLAN CAME TO TOWN, a fictionalized retelling of a Pennsylvania riot by 30,000 Klansmen that focuses on a Sicilian immigrant who is called upon to make a stand against fascism; and Dash Shaw, whose DISCIPLINE portrays a teenage Quaker who joins the Union Army and experiences firsthand the brutality of the Civil War. We were well-guided by moderator Lara Saguisag of CUNY College of Staten Island.

panelists and moderator
(L to R) Frank Abe, Lara Saguisag, Brian K. Mitchell, Bill Campbell, and Dash Shaw. (photo: Cathlin Goulding)

Teddy, Yukiko, and JillThe fun part of these live events is getting to meet people again. I was happy to see New Yorkers I first met in 2019 at JAJA (Japanese Americans and Japanese in America): Teddy Yoshikami, Yukiko Hanawa, and Jill Cornell.

Gina Gagliano and Joan HiltyAnd after months of correspondence and preparation, I was glad to finally meet and thank Gina Gagliano and Joan Hilty of the #BKBF comics committee for curating the selections from among all the graphic novels they examined over the year.

Soho Press tentWandering the tents of the book festival I saw a copy of Naomi Hirahara’s Clark and Division and looked up to realize I was at the Soho Press tent. Publicist Emma Levy recognized my name tag from having moderated Naomi’s book launch for Elliott Bay Books, and introduced me to Juliet Grames, the editor Naomi has praised so highly. We spent time gushing about how much we love Naomi and her book. Emma let me know she used to work at the Third Place Books near me in Seward Park.

Thanks to the Brooklyn Book Festival for having us. The panel was livestreamed. If a video should get posted, we’ll share it here.

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