I was raised in Detroit, Michigan, where I began drawing almost as soon as I could hold a pencil in my hand. Graduating from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School in 1984, I proceeded to Kalamazoo College, where I was befriended by children's book writer/illustrator (and 2001 Caldecott award winner) David Small. David's example was instrumental in suggesting the course that my writing and illustrating would eventually follow.
Upon graduating from college in 1988, I embarked on a series of jobs teaching English in the Far East, first in Taiwan, then Japan, and once more in Taiwan in 1993. It was while living in Japan, in the fall of 1992, that I invented Akiko and fashioned her first adventure, a 33-page comic book story entitled "Akiko on the Planet Smoo." Returning to Michigan in 1995, I found an eager publisher for the tale in Sirius Entertainment, of Dover, New Jersey. Sirius published the story as a one shot in December of 1995, with a new series, entitled "Akiko", to be launched the following spring. In those first years of creating comics, I managed to produce new issues of Akiko at a rate of ten or more per year, and found a small but dedicated readership among comics fans.
In 1998 I was chosen by "Entertainment Weekly" magazine for a spot on the "It List", their annual issue dedicated to the "100 most creative people in entertainment," sharing the honor with Chris Ware as one of two comic book creators to be featured that year.
This led to Random House Children's Books inviting me to write and illustrate a series of novelized adaptations of "Akiko" for young readers. The first in the series, "Akiko on the Planet Smoo", was published in March of 2000; the tenth, "Akiko and the Missing Misp", hit stores in November of 2008.
In 2004 Random House published my first new creation since Akiko, "Billy Clikk: Creatch Battler." The second book in the series, "Billy Clikk: Rogmasher Rampage," hit stores in the fall of 2005. My novels have been featured in USA Today, the New York Daily News, and Disney Adventures Magazine, as well as on CNN Headline News.
My latest creation, the four-volume manga series "Miki Falls," was published by HarperCollins over a period of just eight months from 2007 to early 2008. Kirkus reviews called is "stellar" and the American Library Association put it on their official list of recommended graphic novels. It has since been optioned for film development by Paramount Pictures and Brad Pitt's Plan B production company.
I now live in Michigan with my wife, Miki, and our children, Matthew and Mio. I sincerely hope I can spend the rest of my life doing just what I'm doing today: writing, drawing, and speaking to young readers at schools and libraries across the nation.
Mr. Crilley is also the author of several popular books on drawing Manga. This will be his first visit to AnimeFest.