Cartoonist Paige Braddock Inspires Synergy Students

Paige Braddock

Synergy School TK-5th grade students welcomed the Eisner-nominated cartoonist Paige Braddock, author and illustrator of two graphic novel series for younger kids, for an entertaining and inspiring assembly on February 28, 2023. 

Paige Braddock’s newest graphic novel is On the Trail, the third book in the Peanut, Butter, and Crackers series which follows the adventures of a sweet and goofy puppy who moves in with two older pets, a snarky cat, and a somewhat high-strung dog. 

The author shared that her own pets are the inspiration for the characters Peanut, Butter, and Crackers and that the ideas for the stories come from her experience adding a new puppy to her household. Braddock advised that students can take things that happen in their everyday life and use exaggeration to turn them into funny stories.  Students erupted with laughter as she read parts of the first book and the third book in the series.  Braddock explained the process that goes into creating each page of a graphic novel from thumbnails, to drafts in colored pencil, to inking, to digitally scanning, cleaning up, and digitally coloring each page.  Students were fascinated to find out that Braddock inks her drawings using an old-fashioned dip pen with a metal nib and a pot of ink.  

Braddock advised that students can take things that happen in their everyday life and use exaggeration to turn them into funny stories. 

Braddock asked audience members to raise their hand if they were eight years old, and shared that she was their age when she decided to become a cartoonist. The author shared that sometimes her stories are inspired by her artwork. For example, she shared her artwork of a nattily-attired blue jay and how, with input from people, she started to assign the character a personality (extroverted) and create additional pictures of the blue jay having fun with other bird companions.  Braddock then shared with the students her artwork of a dinosaur dressed in business attire holding up a coffee cup in its tiny arm. The students were excited to share loads of ideas with Braddock including what they think the dinosaur’s personality could be, what other animals might work in its office, and what might happen on the dinosaur’s first day at work (hint: dinosaurs eat other animals).

The author also answered some questions about her work as the Creative Director of Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, including how she came up with the design for the Snoopy U.S. postage stamp issued in April 2001.

Parent Ana Freire’s 1st grader, Oliver, was inspired by the presentation, “He loved it and has been talking about wanting to be an author ever since, explaining to me the process of coming up with illustrations, etc.”Paige Braddock also joined our middle school Pride Club for a lunch meeting, where members learned about her trailblazing web comic, Jane’s World, the first LGBTQ-themed nationally syndicated comic strip. When Braddock asked students to share what the Pride Club does, they spoke about social justice issues and politics affecting the LGBTQ community. Drama and P.E. Teacher Jana Barber, the advisor to the Pride Club, said, “their conversations were deep and passionate around many issues concerning youth today. It was a joy having Paige visit our Pride Club and the students were genuinely excited to speak with her and learn about her career as a writer.”

Synergy students who ordered Peanut, Butter, and Crackers books through Folio Books received a personalized bookplate signed and illustrated by the author. Thank you to Folio Books for donating 10% of proceeds to the Synergy Library and for connecting Synergy School with wonderful authors like Paige Braddock.

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