Kids Comics Pitchfest Showcase
Comics creators from around the world submit their unpublished projects to be previewed online by editors and agents. A panel of judges (click here to see the juror list) select the top pitches. Projects are archived here so that industry pros may view them and discover new talent.
Ventura (pen name: Rowena Zahnrei)
Sandwiched between two gifted brothers – one a whiz at math, the other with words – young Harpo Marx is convinced he has no talent at all. Badly bullied, he leaves school for a string of very odd jobs, until his mother shoves anxious Harpo on stage with his brothers in a scheme to pull the family out of poverty. But while his brothers parade their skills with wordplay and music, critics complain Harpo should stay silent, and he vows never to say another word onstage. Seeking a talent and a voice all his own, Harpo must harness his creativity and perseverance in Harpo’s Voice: a harp-tastic middle-grade biography drawing on scholarly sources and the Marx family’s own writings to illustrate how shy, silent Harpo became a one-of-a-kind artist.
Age Range:Middle Grade
Genre:Biography, Historical Fiction, Humor
Page Count Estimate:200 pages
Why create a graphic novel illustrating the travails and triumphs of a young Harpo Marx? As a writer and tutor, I could describe the enormous inspiration I’ve found in Harpo’s musical performances, his surreal sight gags, and his tenacity in the face of aching self-doubt. I could explain how often I’ve used his example to inspire students struggling with anxiety about their own abilities, purpose and place, and how earnestly I hope this book will inspire others. But the deepest why resides in one special moment: when Harpo made me – an autistic kid who always blamed herself for ‘not getting the joke’ – laugh for the first time. This story is my thank you to the boy without a talent who showed me why “Funny” isn’t just a vocabulary word.
Marie Ventura (pen name: Rowena Zahnrei)
Rowena Zahnrei is an author, professional educator and independent academic with multiple history degrees and several peer-reviewed articles under her belt – articles that delve into historical and literary characters like Harpo Marx and Sherlock Holmes. Her stories have been featured on podcasts, her work has been published in children’s magazines, fanzines, and academic journals, and one of her short comics was recently accepted to the anthology Comics From the Kitchen!, coming out in 2023.