New Kids’, YA Comics Initiatives at San Diego Comic-Con 2017

Sonic the Hedgehog has a new home, Yen Press has a new youth imprint, and the Lunch Lady creator is working on a memoir. Those are just some of the kids’ comics announcements from Comic-Con International: San Diego, which ran from July 19–23.

Children’s comics, particularly graphic novels, continue to be one of the fastest growing sectors of the industry, and they were well represented in San Diego.

On the eve of the convention, the game company Sega announced that it had ended its agreement with Archie Comics, which has published the Sonic the Hedgehog comics for many years. This set the stage for the announcement at San Diego that IDW has partnered with Sega to publish a new line of Sonic comics, which will launch in 2018. IDW also announced Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions, an anthology series set in the world of the popular comic.

As announced previously in PW, Yen Press unveiled a new middle-grade graphic novel imprint, JY, which will be overseen by deputy publisher JuYoun Lee. Lee edited Svetlana Chmakova’s Awkward and Brave, and her third graphic novel in the series, Crush, will be part of the new list. JY will launch with W.I.T.C.H., a series from Italy that was originally published in the U.S. in the mid-2000s.

Scholastic had several announcements in its Graphix line, which is home to Jeff Smith’s Bone and Raina Telgemeier’s Smile. The first was that it will publish two picture books featuring Smiley Bone and other characters from Bone; the first one, called Smiley’s Dream Book, will be published in 2018.

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Photo: Brigid Alverson

Author Jarrett J. Krosoczka is best known for his lighthearted Lunch Lady graphic novels, published by Knopf, but Scholastic has signed him for a more serious story: Hey, Kiddo, a graphic memoir of growing up with his grandparents because his mother was a heroin addict who did time in prison; the story, part of which Krosoczka has told in a widely viewed TED Talk.

Anne Szabla received an Eisner for Best Webcomic for Bird Boy.

Finally, at last year’s Comic-Con, Scholastic launched a “Get Published by Graphix” contest, and this year in San Diego two winners were announced: Kelly Fernandez and Breena Bard. Scholastic will publish Fernandez’s Manu, a story about a school for magical girls, in fall 2020, and Bard’s Trespassers, a mystery, in spring 2020.

As in previous years, children’s and YA comics made a good showing at the Eisner Awards. Three Eisner awards went to works for young readers: Ben Clanton’s Narwhal:Unicorn of the Sea won the Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8); Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier got the prize for Best Publication for Kids (ages 9–12), and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson was named Best Publication for Teens (ages 13–17).

Several other kid-friendly titles won awards outside those categories, including Jughead by Chip Zdarsky, Ryan North, Erica Henderson, and Derek Charm (Best Humor Publication), March (Book Three) by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Best Reality-Based Work), Anne Szabla’s Bird Boy (Best Webcomic), and Jill Thompson’s Wonder Woman: The True Amazon (Best Graphic Album—New). Szabla also won the Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award; Dark Horse publishes a print edition of Bird Boy.

At the show, Abrams was handing out a single-chapter sampler of its new Lumberjanes middle-grade prose novel, the first of a series, written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Brooke Allen, one of the original Lumberjanes team.

BOOM! Studios announced just before the show a partnership with Nickelodeon, and the first fruit of that will be a new Rugrats comic, debuting in October, to be written by Box Brown (Tetris) and illustrated by newcomer Lisa Dubois.

Also in the week leading up to the con, Lion Forge announced a graphic novel trilogy, Glint by Samuel Sattin (Legend) and Ian McGinty (Adventure Time). The story will be about the struggle to save a dying planet. Sattin said, “Motorbike-riding warrior grannies must help a small miner boy named Loon withstand a regime that’s been brainwashing its people for generations, while being attacked by monsters called Feeders.”

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