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Issue No. 1: Local 6th Grade Author Hosts Book Signing for Newest Comic


Inside Buffalo Street Books, a small table is set up by the main entrance with something unique on it. Next to a bowl of candy, a silver marker, an open can of sparkling seltzer, sit three small plastic stands displaying the newest full comic book volume from local author Lily Schwartz.

In front of the display stands, are a number of copies of the volume, titled “Looki,” wrapped in plastic and waiting to be sold and signed by Schwartz herself.

When Lily greets potential customers, she is sure to introduce herself as a “comic book writer and illustrator,” which may seem natural if not for one small detail: she is only in sixth grade.

This was the scene inside the local bookstore on Saturday, Nov. 11, as Lily hosted a book sale and signing for the release of her first full volume of her comic book.

lily and table 2
Lily Schwartz sits by her display, and awaits potential customers looking to buy the first full volume of her comic book, “Looki.” (Photo by Noah Barnes/Ithaca Week)

Lily, who attends Boynton Middle School in Ithaca, had been working on the first full volume of “Looki” for about a year. Once she finally finished it, she decided to hold a book signing, where fans could come and purchase a signed copy of the book.

“I was a little bit nervous,” Lily said about hosting the signing. “But after Ithacon I was pretty confident.”

Lily originally debuted the first issue of “Looki” at Ithacon, the annual convention celebrating comic book fandom in Ithaca, back in March of 2018, where she nearly sold out of the 30 comics she had printed. With the money she made there, Lily was able to complete the final four issues of the first volume.  She also printed 30 copies for her debut book signing.

looki book 2
The first full volume of “Looki” contains issues one through four and totals around 50 pages, all with hand-drawn artwork by Lily herself. (Photo by Noah Barnes/Ithaca Week).

Despite her age, Lily did almost everything on her own to complete “Looki.” Those close to the middle schooler say that this feat did not come as a shock.

Chris Bell,  Lily’s teacher in first and fifth grade at Fall Creek Elementary school, attended her book signing. Bell said that the dedication Lily has shown to the project is far from surprising.

“I vividly remember back in first grade thinking, ‘She’s going to grow up and be some kind of artist,’” he said. “You see something in each kid and wonder if they are going to go in that direction. I saw that in Lily and so it’s no surprise that she is at Buffalo Street Books doing a book signing.”

lily and chris looki
Chris Bell talks to Lily and her father after getting his copy of “Looki” signed by his former student. (Photo by Noah Barnes/Ithaca Week)

Lily’s father Adam Schwartz offered a similar take, but did mention his shock at a certain element of the comic book.

“I was surprised by how good it was,” he said. “I make some art myself, and it made me feel like I had to work on my art more, because I was already thinking she was better than I was.”

The artwork in “Looki” is impressive, which is no surprise, given that Lily said  drawing the characters was her favorite part of the creative process.

“I really liked doing the art of [Looki]. It was really fun just drawing out the characters,” she said, while going on to describe the drawing process itself. “You just do a loose sketch, then you do another layer of line art, and then you do a layer of color under it.”

lily with fans 2
Lily signs copies of her comic book for two young fans who stayed to read the volume inside Buffalo Street Books. (Photo by Noah Barnes/Ithaca Week)

The back cover of “Looki” details the exact process that Lily took to make all the art within the book. It shows that this was no easy task, and according to Lily, the process of making the nearly 50 page volume was quite a long one.

“I have to redraw the characters for every panel on every page,” she said. “So each page can take between an hour and two and a half hours to make.”

This hard work did not turn Lily away from her project. Her father said she was more than willing to put in all the time, effort and money she had to make the full volume of “Looki” a reality.

“She used her birthday money last year to have the first issue printed,” he said. “She just had to want to do this, otherwise it probably would not have happened.”

lily and elijah
Elijah Weber-Han (right) bought the first ever issue of “Looki” back at Ithacon 44 and made sure to stop by Saturday and pick up the full volume. Like most customers, he asked Lily questions about her creative process. (Photo by Noah Barnes/Ithaca Week)

This level of commitment from such a young author is exactly why Ithaca resident Elijah Weber-Han said he felt the need to support Lily. Weber-Han was Lily’s very first customer at Ithacon, and turned up to Buffalo Street Books to buy a signed copy of the full volume.

“When I see someone so young doing something like this, I want to support it,” he said. “Usually you think of someone in their early 20s or as a late age teenager doing this. So to see someone so young doing this I’m like ‘That’s awesome, let’s build on this.’”

Header Photo by Noah Barnes/Ithaca Week

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