Brobee, of Yo Gabba Gabba fame, crashed the party at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo to help launch an anthology based on the Nick Jr. television program, to be published by Oni Press in tandem with Yo Gabba Gabba producers Wild Brain.
That was one of the few new children's bookannouncements at C2E2, but children's comics were everywhere, from the mega-publisher Archie Comics to individual creators who autographed their comics for fans on Artists Alley.
The Yo Gabba Gabba books will be 128-page color anthologies featuring art by artists associated with the show as well as published children's artists such as Matt Loux (Salt Water Taffy) and Vinny Navarette (Dear Dracula). Oni Press sales and marketing director Cory Casoni said that the anthologies are just the beginning, and that Oni will be working with Yo Gabba Gabba's producer, Wildbrain, to develop more comics for young readers.
"We have been growing our all ages content," he said at the panel. "We have so many books for kids-Polly and the Pirates, Courtney Crumrin. One of the things that is imperative is that we get people with kids to take them to comics shops and we get them to read comics. The first [Yo Gabba Gabba] anthology is absolutely what you should be reading with your kids. We want to start developing things that get comics into kids' hands as early as we can so they graduate to early reader comics, teen comics, superheroes, the wild spectrum that is comics." Indeed, one of Oni's panelists was Ray Fawkes, creator of Possessions, an all-ages comic about an evil little girl ghost held captive in a haunted house with an assortment of other ghosts.
Archie Comics managing editor Mike Pellerito said that his company had announced several new stories in their panels, including Riverdale-themed parodies of Twilight and Jersey Shore, a relaunch of Josie and the Pussycats on Nick Teen, and a deluxe slipcover edition of the Archie Marries... graphic novel, to be published by Abrams. Just before C2E2, the company announced that former Marvel writer and editor Tom DeFalco would be coming on board write a four-part story arc for their flagship comic Archie, titled "The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E."
There were no new children's title announcements at the BOOM! Studios panel, but publisher Ross Richie highlighted a number of recent titles. Amy Mebberson has taken over the interior art duties on the Muppet Show comics, and Richie commented "Roger does the full cartooning mode, Amy tries to preserve the notion that the hand is inside the Muppet." Mebberson, who was the artist for the Tokyopop series Divalicious, was at the BOOM! booth for much of the con, and visitors could buy a special Muppet comic with a blank cover on which Amy would then sketch a portrait of the buyer as a Muppet.
BOOM! continues to promote its Disney properties and extend its line, which includes reprints of classic comics like The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck as well as new comics and revivals of older series. They announced a new Darkwing Duck series at Emerald City Comic Con, and in June their Walt Disney's Comics will publish a story arc, "Mickey Mouse on Quandomai Island," by Italian creator Casty, that will be appearing only a few months after its Italian release. "This is the first time that has happened," said marketing director Chip Mosher.
Richie also showed off pages from an upcoming graphic adaptation of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie, which will be available in deluxe hardcover and less expensive softcover editions. And for those who prefer not to pay for their comics at all, BOOM!'s Free Comic Book Day comic will be an issue of Toy Story, to tie in with the upcoming Toy Story 3 movie.
While other comics conventions, including New York Comic-Con, encourage children to attend, particularly on Sundays, C2E2 seemed particularly family friendly. The large, airy space was full but not crowded, and the relative absence of game and movie properties meant that young and old attendees alike were spared the distractions of pounding music, flashy displays, and scantily clad actresses.
Instead, children lined up to get sketches and autographs from Archie artist Dan Parent, Tiny Titans writer Art Baltazar, and Bone creator Jeff Smith. David Petersen was autographing hardcover copies of his Mouse Guard graphic novels and giving away the pamphlet comics for free. Random House had a special on children's graphic novels, selling bundles of the first volumes of Babymouse, BC Mambo, Kit Feeny, and Lunch Lady for $20.
Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman had a small booth in Artist's Alley where they sold copies of Telgemeier's graphic novel Smile and mini-comics of Roman's Astronaut Elementary, which will soon be published in graphic novel form by First Second Books. "I redrew about 85% of it," Roman said, in preparation for the new edition. "I call it 'retcon edits'-I could go back, fix things, and add foreshadowing."
At a table in the Haven Distributors area, brothers Adam and Chris Hebert were displaying issues of their all-ages comic Lazerman and confided that they were working on an all-ages zombie comic, which may be a first.
Children's programming was emphasized on Sunday, with all-ages panels by Archaia Studios Press, Archie, and DC Kids, comics workshops, presentations by individual artists, and a live theater version of Josh Elder's Mail Order Ninja.