Judd Winick Shares His Story with Synergy School

Judd Winick, local author-illustrator and creator of the wildly popular HiLo graphic novel series, brought laughter and life lessons to Synergy students on February 10, 2021, in a virtual assembly that included Star Room through 8th grade students. 

Winick is on a tour for HiLo Book #7: Gina, the Girl Who Broke the World. The series is a comedy action-adventure with robots, aliens, magic, and a strong friendship story at its core.  In this latest book, Gina finally takes center stage in an ongoing quest to save the world with the help of her best friends DJ and HiLo, the boy who fell to Earth. 

Synergy Math teacher, Dan Gelfand, said, “Judd was funny and engaging. His journey to creating HiLo is interesting and gave the students an example of a path followed because of a passion. He shows the kids that what they love can be integrated into what they do in life.”

Winick told the audience the story of how he got started as an artist and writer, including some key secrets. As a boy, some of Winick’s influences were comic strips like Peanutsand Calvin and Hobbes, and movies like E.T. and Star Wars. Winick loved to copy drawings of his favorite comic strip character, Garfield, until one day a teacher told him that he shouldn’t be copying other people’s artwork.  From then on, Winick made sure to only draw Garfield at home and not at school. That is — until he forgot himself and started drawing Garfield during art class one day, and his art teacher caught him — and told him that copying was good!  In fact, copying was like taking a “masters drawing” class. Winick’s copying eventually led to drawing from memory which eventually led to creating his own characters. The life lesson? Copy stuff! It will help make you a better artist in the future.

Winick also shared about his storytelling inspirations. He illustrated the story of a girl being raised by her aunt and uncle on a farm who one day meets a couple of strangers who ask her to help them find a reclusive neighbor of hers named Baba Yaga who is secretly a powerful sorceress and reveals that the farm girl possesses great magical powers. Sounds like a good story, right? Winick revealed that it’s actually the story of the movie Star Warsand its main character Luke Skywalker. Winick showed how many stories share elements of other popular stories, from Star Wars to Harry Potter to E.T. The take-away? Steal ideas for stories! But make them your own.  

Synergy Art teacher Pam Heyda said, “I loved that he shared how a writer can take a story they know and love and make it into a brand new story. I think he did a nice job of taking some of the mystery out of writing and drawing.”

Synergy students who ordered HiLo books through our partner Folio Books in Noe Valley had the opportunity to get their book personally signed by the author. Synergy thanks Folio Books for donating 10% of sales of all Judd Winick titles to the Synergy Library!

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