Twenty years ago, Janna Morishima began her career in publishing as the assistant to creative director David Saylor at Scholastic. Two years later, she co-founded the Graphix imprint with Saylor and editor Sheila Keenan, to publish graphic novels for kids, and helped to bring Raina Telgemeier and Jeff Smith's Bone to its inaugural list. In 2007, she left Scholastic to helm the Kids Group at Diamond Book Distributors, where she worked with publishers like Marvel, Oni, Image, and Dark Horse and helped launch Francoise Mouly's Toon Books.
This year, she launched Janna Co., a literary and illustration agency specializing in children's and YA graphic novelists and visual storytellers. Bleeding Cool recently reported on two of her sales, Andi Watson's Punicorn being sold to Clarion, and Shauna J. Grant's Mimi & Penelope to Scholastic.
Next weekend, she is teaching a free three-part masterclass online, starting on Saturday, the 30th of January, focusing on "How to Build a Successful Career as a Comics Creator." It's a preview to the Kids Comics Intensive course she'll be teaching starting in February. Last time she taught a shorter version of the masterclass on Zoom back in May, it had about 100 participants with a lively Q&A at the end. Since then Janna's reputation has grown, as the kind of agent who can get a graphic novel sold, so there may be a few more this time. Interested people can register right here.
The webinars will cover fundamental information authors and illustrators need to know about how to break into the children's graphic novel market. Creators can register for the masterclasses at
After the masterclass, the Kids Comics Intensive course, which launches inside the online community Kids Comics Unite, will launch on February 8th. Kids Comics Intensive, a 13-week course taught live by Janna Morishima and artist Rivkah LaFille, goes in-depth into kids comics storytelling, technique, and marketing.
Artist Katie Risor took the course in 2020. "Kids Comics Intensive really gave me the push to buckle down and get serious," she observes. "I learned a lot of new things, had things I kinda knew solidified by hearing it from others and gained the confidence to act on the things I already knew. There's so much content, and I'm so happy to be able to look back on the lessons as I build my career over the coming years."
When launching her agency, Janna stated "As much as the graphic novel industry has grown over the past decade, it has the potential to grow as much or even more over the next 10 years. We are seeing more and more different types of stories told in comics format, and at the same time, comics easily cross entertainment media boundaries and are impacting publishing, animation, gaming, and technology alike. Most importantly, we can see the tremendous fan enthusiasm for the form in the seemingly unstoppable growth of comics conventions and festivals aimed at every niche audience imaginable." Without those conventions or festivals right now, Jenna has found a virtual solution that everyone can take part in.