My Hero(es)

My Hero(es): sharing alternative artwork for the 2015 CSLP featuring diverse kid library patrons cosplaying |

I think that it would be safe to say that for most nerdy youth services librarians, the announcement of 2015’s CSLP theme sent shivers down our spines: Every Hero Has a Story.™ I also think that it’d be safe to say that it was a bit of a letdown when the official artwork arrived. Ummmm…I mean, the artist did a great job, BUT jellyfish and police officer platypuses are not what I had in mind.

Immediately I told my team that we weren’t going to use the artwork, and that I’d ask/beg/bribe my artist fiance to make something else. In my mind I wanted him to put fun superhero costumes on our dragon mascot. It wasn’t until the fantabulous Erin from Erinisinire emailed me to see if it was cool to use my superhero mashups instead of the provided CSLP artwork. Naturally I replied “heck yeah!” I then also told her of my plans to work with Bruce (aforementioned fiance) to make fun dragon logos that she could use as well.

Later that night, I had a SHAZAM! moment when I realized that instead of using our library’s mascot – we should have children dressing up as superheros, and that way, any and all libraries that would like to, could use our artwork! AWW YISS!!!!!

Needless to say, my mind went into overdrive. The very next day I sat down and sketched out ideas with lots of notes for Bruce to use. Basically, and this blows my mind, I got to be his art director (eep! ME – an art director for a professional artist) But, I mean, we’ve worked on artsy projects together before, and it’s been a blast. However, this was quite the task, and I knew that I was going to be pushing Bruce out of his comfort zone (and into the land of cutesy chibis). Heh.

Bruce took my rough sketches and made them magical. He spent three days on this labor of love, and it’s been pure joy collaborating and watching our ideas come to life. He’s one of my heroes.

Oh yeah – you might like to know the concept: I wanted it to be children who are cosplaying their favorite superhero characters with things that they find around the house. Also, I really wanted kids represented who are hardly ever featured as leading superheros both in books and film. To riff on a wonderful book movement #WeNeedDiverseHeroes And because of the chibi eyes, most of the children are ambiguous in terms of gender (and do cause some uncertainty in race as well). I’ll write the intention (not set in stone by any means) that Bruce and I had with each character. But if you see someone else being represented, then that’s totally cool too!

Finally, I wanted to work in the concept of LIBRARIES into the art. That has driven me nuts with the CSLP: it’s a big library thing, right? But it usually only focuses on reading. Not even libraries. And for the love of Jibbers: libraries are so much more than books (and yet, the CSLP marketing seems to push that pretty hard). ::gets down off of soapbox::

Without further ado, here is what resulted from Bruce and my collaboration:

 An African-American child cosplaying as Superman showing off the awesome power of his/her library card.A Latino child dressed as Thor – carrying his/her library tote that just happens to resemble Thor’s hammer.Asian child who wants to be Spider-Man.Caucasian girl who wants to be Batman. She’ll punch you if you try and call her Batgirl (at least in my mind).Middle Eastern girl cosplaying Ms. Marvel. I love that she uses an over-sized glove to represent how Ms. Marvel can morph shapes.An African-American girl cosplaying as The Flash. If someone’s silly enough to make fun of her for her love of The Flash, then she’ll point out that “you can’t run 74 miles per second either.”

And here are the b&w images for you to use. Oh! There are two versions of Spider-Kid because the initial version Bruce did had brown hair – he modified it to the black/blue hair at my request.


Click on any of the above images to get a high resolution version.

PLEASE feel free to use any/all of these images at any time! Modifying them is completely fine too. The b&w outline images are perfect for coloring sheets (just sayin’). And it’s so very very sweet when librarians email me to make 100% sure that it’s okay to use the images, but I promise that my answer will be “yes.”

Also please don’t feel that you need to give either Bruce or I credit in whatever you’re putting our artwork on! If someone wants to know, then you can tell them, or I’d like to think that they’d be able to track the source online pretty darn easily.

This “leaving off credit thing” especially applies to my superhero mashups. I actually really dislike seeing credit given to me on calendars or brochures because I think it takes away from the striking/simple art. So know that we’re totally cool with credit being left off. Pinkie promise!

One other thing I did that I thought might help librarians out there for this summer: I went through Dafont’s comic fonts and picked out ones that I thought would work best. Honestly, this was also a selfish act of mine to try and stop a proliferation of flyers being created using Comic Sans. ::shudders::

In case you were curious why I picked the fonts that I did – it really comes down to readability and characters. When I’m looking for a font, I ALWAYS use the preview option. I may type what I want the flyer’s headline to be (both upper and lowercase), a special character, and a number. What I’m doing is making sure that lowercase is an option (because you can always use caps lock), and that the font maker has made both special characters and numbers. It took me several heartbreaking times where I found the perfect font, downloaded it, and then realized that I couldn’t use it because I couldn’t type event times.

Anywho! Click on any of the fonts down below to be taken to their download page where you can see the rest of the characters and even type in your own preview.

Okay, I think that about covers it! If you end up using any or all of our artwork, then know that we’d love to see what you did with it. Think of it as payment. OR, if you feel weird about using the artwork for free, then do something special for someone or some organization in your community. Pay it forward. After all – each and every one of you working with and for families in library-land are the heroes I refer to in this post’s title. (I betcha thought it referred to the artwork, but nope! I’m talking about YOU).

77 thoughts on “My Hero(es)

  1. Nothing short of brilliant, as always! Thank you SO MUCH for allowing us to use your (and your fiance’s) fantastic images for our SRP!!! We were very excited at our staff meeting when Erin told us we could use your mashups…we’re even more stoked now with the adorable children in super hero garb!!! You rock my school shoes. :)

    • Yay!!! We’re both so delighted at all the kind words (from you and others) about all of our art. I’m also so very happy that libraries will actually be using our art!!! Rock on, lady – rock on!!!

  2. Amazing! The platypuses weren’t doing it for me either! I’m so excited to use these this summer! Thank you! Thank you!

    • So very glad to help! You’re so very welcome. My heart breaks a little for the artist who made the platypuses since they were by no means warmly received. But I’m still not going to use them.

  3. I so agree about the artwork for the theme this year. It took me a long, long time to realize they were platypuses. It just is so obscure and not really the in your face kind of hero that I, er um most kids, would imagine. So I am so grateful to you and your fiance for the awesome artwork. My library is investing in a button maker this year and I am so excited to steal, er I mean, borrow your wonderful artwork. You can’t see me, but I am holding up my magic ring so we can do an uber-nerdy magical ring fist bump. ;)

    • Oh my gosh I’m so excited that you’re using them!!!! And I’m grinning ear-to-ear because as a kid, I collected buttons – so it sort of blows my mind that you’ll be making some of my/Bruce’s art into some. I may have our library look into investing in a button maker too! ::uber-nerdy magical ring fist bump:: :D

  4. AMAZING!! love them!! Can’t wait to get them up on the wall for our little library!!! So creative and are a more fun!!

  5. Wow! I just love these so much! Finally some diversity! I hope you don’t mind if we use them as well!!1 Thank you so, so much!


  6. Thank you and your fiancé so very much for saving our library time and money I have made Thor about four foot tall and the others will follow in the next week. You made my decorating easy!

  7. Thank you so much for creating and sharing such awesome Library Heroes! Love, Love, Love how the Library symbol or bag is incorporated into each character’s special gear. As we all know, the Library opens doors and allows patrons of all ages to do incredible things– but now we get some very cool kids to help us spread the word about the superpowers available to anyone that uses the Library! I’d rather root for the Library than a capewearing playtpus anyday!! Thanks so much!

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  9. Oh, this is wonderful. I am a brand-new Children’s Librarian, and found you quite by accident. Thank you, thank you for the permission to use your artwork — it speaks to me so much more than the Every Hero Has a Story work does. I had already hoped to create my own characters to use, and I love that you thought the same thing! I will be sure to report back on how I incorporate your ideas at my little Northern Michigan library!

    • I am so very happy that we were able to help you out! And I’m delighted that you’ll share what you end up doing – that means a great deal to me :) Feel free to reach out any time – I try and share all that I do, but sometimes I run out of time and/or just completely forget.

    • Yay! You’re so welcome! I’ve been very relieved to learn that the vast majority of librarians weren’t the most keen on this year’s artwork.

  10. Children love coloring pictures of themselves and these are close to perfect! Thanks sooo much! I can’t wait to show them to the co-workers!

  11. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Great minds think alike, I felt exactly the same way when we received the artwork for this summer. Then, I was just as frustrated trying to find free clip-art that didn’t over sexualize female superheroes. I love Wonder Woman as much as the next feminist, but really why is a bikini her crime fighting outfit of choice? So glad I found these :)

  12. These are amazing! I’m so glad to have something that kids can relate to for the summer artwork. I can’t wait to have these out – especially as coloring sheets. I just know these will be even more in-demand than our “traditional” go-to pages for coloring.

  13. It’s so nice to find out that we weren’t the only ones who didn’t care for the artwork for this year’s SRP. Thank you so much for creating these and making them available to everyone for free. We’ll definitely be using them in my library. Thanks, again!

    • I’ve been relieved to find out that it’s a general consensus. So so so happy to have helped so many librarians. You’re so very welcome!

  14. These are fantastic!
    Can I commission the fabulous Mr. Bruce to revamp the teen art too? Teens get the shaft in soon many ways when it comes to the cslp plans, artwork, programming, you name it! I hardly ever use the teen themes or art because it’s always terrible. I mean, unmask? What is that? I saw what you guys did last year and I loved that too. I’m glad you’re back at it again!

    • Thanks, Jessica! I did superhero mashups over the past year or so not even thinking of summer programming, and a lot of YA librarians are using those for their teen graphics. Look on the side of my blog at the popular posts – usually one of the several versions are there (Guardians of the Literacy, Readers Assemble, and/or Holy Mashups, Batman!). Maybe one of those sets (or all of them) will work for you. Cheers!

  15. Thank you thank you thank you! My heart sank when I saw the artwork for this year’s SRP…

  16. We’re using them on some of our display signs. I e’d them to some of the youth services folks at our other branches and they LOVE them. Several are going to use them in various ways. Thank you so much!

  17. Oh my, I am dying over the awesomeness of these! I am a librarian in an international school library in Hong Kong, and I am going to make a display with these (and offer the colouring sheets to students too). All of our children will feel included! Thank you so much for this brilliant work!


    • Leanne!

      Both Bruce and I about died over the awesomeness of your comment! We are just floored by it and so touched. Thank you so very much for sharing!!!!!!!

  18. These are brilliant! I love them, and they will be coloring pages for our little library in Star, NC!

  19. Thank you SO, SO Much for making these! Excited to have some amazing art for the kid’s instead of the Platy-mutts (I am sorry but Platypuses do not have fluffy tails!). The kids in Flint, MI will enjoy these very much!

  20. Hi! I found this through ALA think tank and just had to say thank you. My students have been coloring these as we talk about closing the school library for the summer and signing up for summer reading. I added a sentence completion element to make it a little richer for the older students. One of my second graders captioned his: When I read my first book I felt like Thor. It was awesome! Thank you!

    • Amanda –

      Thank you beyond words for sharing this with me. My heart just soared (and it’s been a pretty rough week in my neck of the woods, so I thought my heart was beyond even a warm fuzzy).

      I absolutely love the writing element. The Thor comment blew me away! ::hugs::

  21. Oh my goodness, I’ve been freaking out and then I found you and now I’ve found a calm and happy place, full of incredible artwork. This is my first SLP and I’m *still* not ready. You have helped me more than you would ever guess. I may even sleep tonight. Thank you sooo much!

    • ::HUGS:: Take some deep breaths – it’s going to be okay. Knowing that you care *that* much means that your community is in good hands. Hopefully you’ll find a balance where the freaking out morphs into excited energy that you can share with your staff and community! I’m beyond happy to have helped you (and don’t hesitate to shoot me an email to vent and/or just ask for reassurance). YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!

      • My library is decorated with your super heroes, colored by my super hero daughter, Cecelia.  <3 your drawings! Sincerely, Shannon D. Dolgos Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established. Proverbs 4:26 (HCSB)

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