You Can Do a Graphic Novel – Interview with Barbara Slate

Today I’m honored to interview Barbara Slate, author of You Can Do a Graphic Novel and cartoonist for Disney classics Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas, Archie’s Betty and Veronica, Mattel’s Barbie, and many more.

Q: I’m really enjoying your new book, You Can Do a Graphic Novel! How did you get interested in comics as a career?

A: As a kid, I always loved the bright colors of the funny pages. I guess it was my destiny.

Q: What do you tell young comic book artists who want to do what you do?

A: I teach teens how to do graphic novels so I am lucky to have a firsthand view of young comic book artists.  Ninety five percent are doing graphic novels because they love to, not because they have to. It is a passion so they will continue to write and draw no matter what I say.
That being said, if I had two things to say it would be …Number One: Get to know your process and then trust it. And Number Two: Never leave home without a pencil and paper.

Q: Can you talk about why you created the book, You Can Do a Graphic Novel, and the response you’ve been getting from readers?

A: As I said before, I teach teens how to do graphic novels. By observing their struggles, breakthroughs, and creative process, I couldn’t help getting inspired to write this book. I don’t like to brag so I won’t tell you the response that I’m getting from readers.

Q: What’s the response like from parents?

A: Most parents are supportive of their teens being graphic novelists, so they buy the book. Parents are happy to see their child engaged in something and there is nothing more engaging than writing and drawing.

Q: How have attitudes changed about comics as legitimate reading materials over the years — or have they changed?
A: In the 50s, everything that was wrong with “today’s youth” was because of those violent and degrading to women comic books!  Today, mothers encourage their kids to read graphic novels. Sometimes it’s the only thing that can get a kid to read.

Q: You’ve created and drawn many different characters drawn familiar characters as well. Any favorites?
A: Asking me to choose favorites is like asking a mother to choose her favorite child. Even if you have one, you certainly aren’t going to hurt the others’ feelings. But I will tell you what I loved about some of my girls.

Angel Love, because she was the heroine of my first comic book.
Barbie, because every month for 65 issues, she could do anything! –doctor, teacher, model, fashion designer, etc. and she could live anywhere in the world. Barbie had a fascinating life!
Betty and Veronica are two of my favorites because through thick and thin and even loving the same boy for over 65 years, they remain best friends.

And I can’t leave out Belle because she loved to read, was a strong independent girl and she gave the beast a second chance.

Q: Thank you so much, Barbara, for your time, and best wishes for continued success! We love your new book, You Can Do a Graphic Novel!

BIO: BARBARA SLATE has done it all. Her big break in comics came when she created Angel Love for DC Comics. She put her own spin on the Disney classics Beauty and the Beast, and Pocahontas, Archie’s Betty and Veronica and Mattel’s Barbie. Barbara is currently busy being a mom, doing a graphic novel titled, I Got Married and Other Mistakes, and teaching. Her website is


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Great Comics and Graphic Novels for Kids

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  1. Robin says

    Aaahhh…Belle! My family and I love her. We’ve seen Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, on Ice, at the movies (of course we have the videos and then had to get the DVDs!), at the high school musical and of course, we’ve read the books. She is an incredible character and such a role model for everyone!


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