About Me

Hi there! My name is Kim Dwinell. I am a graphic novelist, author, surfer, illustrator, animator, and professor of animation at California State University - Long Beach.

I am a proud Titan - I got both my BFA and MFA in illustration from California State University  Fullerton.

I was fortunate enough to get hired into animation shortly after graduating into the “Second Golden Age of 2D Animation.”

My career started with the feature film, The Swan Princess at Rich Animation. That then led me to work on Cats Don’t Dance at Turner Feature Animation. From there, I joined the Disney Animation team where I worked on Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, and a bit of Emperor’s New Groove.

Immediately after I left Disney, I got hired into teaching animation at Laguna College of Art and Design. I also rejoined my Titan brethren and began teaching at Cal State University Fullerton.

Currently, I teach animation at Cal State Long Beach. Altogether, I’ve been teaching for about twenty years and have been loving every second of it. It brings me great joy to see my students grow and flourish in this industry. Plus, they keep me young!

My career in graphic novels had a funky beginning. After I left Disney, I took some time off to be a mom. I had my son Ethan and was working at Brita’s Old Town Gardens in Seal Beach. I had gone back to school part-time to study landscape design, something I was always interested in.

One day, I took Ethan to Borders bookstore and saw a graphic novel called Blankets that was published by Top Shelf. I had never seen a graphic novel before and knew immediately that this is what I wanted to do.

I went back to Cal State Fullerton to get an MFA in Illustration, and studied as much as I could about manga and graphic novels at the Cerritos Library (which has an amazing collection!) Surfside Girls was my thesis project for my MFA. Soon after I graduated, I searched for a publisher and Surfside Girls was picked up by none other than Top Shelf/ IDW - the very publisher that inspired me initially! It came full circle!

The inspiration for Surfside Girls came from when I was in my teens and 20’s, when my hair was always salty and my wetsuit never dried. I was a beach lifeguard at Laguna Beach for a couple summers in college and I surfed nearly every day at Churches or Upper Trestles. I started the Junior Lifeguard program at Lake Mission Viejo in 1990. I put all of this SoCal love into Surfside Girls, and added in the adventures my best friend Melissa and I had while learning to surf. The mystery aspect of my books comes from my love of Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo.

Now, all of my life experiences have come together in the form of the new Surfside Girls TV show premiering on AppleTV+ on August 19th. The experience of having my graphic novel series turned into a TV show was inexplicably awesome. I got to consult on the show, make sure that the surfing lingo used in the show was authentic, and work with an amazing team.

I can’t wait to see what comes next!