While sales of graphic novels are down, comics for children and teens seem to be a bright spot, and they were attracting plenty of attention at New York Comic Con last weekend.
Traditional children's publisher Archie Comics had some of the biggest news of the show with the announcement of a new line of Mega Man comics, based on the character from Capcom's video game. The comics will be written by Ian Flynn and drawn by Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante, who both currently work on Sonic the Hedgehog. The new series will debut in spring 2011.
In addition to the Mega Man announcement, managing editor Mike Pellerito said that Kevin Keller, the newest addition to the Archie cast and its first openly gay character, will get his own four-issue miniseries in 2011, written by Dan Parent, Kevin's creator. The first issue featuring Kevin, Veronica #202, sold out its print run, and Archie is reprinting it with a variant cover. Archie continues to mine its archives as well, and the latest character to be brought back to life is Cosmo the Merry Martian, who was last heard from in the 1959 (aside from a cameo appearance in an Archie story last year). "We're going to re-release the older material and bring him back in a new way," said Pellerito.
Also in the works are new Sabrina, Josie, and Jinx comics, as well as a series of Betty & Veronica middle-grade novels (to be published by Penguin Young Readers Group). There’s a Tiny Titans/Little Archie crossover, with DC Comics publishing the comic books and Archie republishing them in digest form, and a new comic from the inimitable Stan Lee, Airwalker. The booth was packed with old and new fans throughout the con as a bevy of creators signed comics and posters.
Disney Publishing also had a major announcement that didn't make quite as big a splash: Pirates of the Caribbean: Six Sea Shanties, a graphic novel anthology featuring stories that precede the first film and lead up to the upcoming movie Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. At the Disney booth, the staff was showcasing the Tron graphic novel as well as the recently released Prince of Persia, and more teen books are on the way, said Ann Dye of the Disney marketing department. Capstone, which publishes graphic novels primarily for the library and school markets was offering samplers of its DC Super-Pets chapter books, which feature the pets of DC Comics superheroes and illustrations by Tiny Titans artist Art Baltazar.
Lerner Graphic Universe unveiled a new teen series, My Boyfriend Is a Monster, which will launch in the spring. Aimed at teens who’ve read Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight vampire series, the four volume series is a tongue-in-cheek look at “dating a monster,” said LGU editorial director Carol Burrell, “it’s not all fun.” The series will launch with a zombie (written by Dan Jolley with art by Alitha Martinez) volume and a Frankenstein (by Evonne Tsong and Janina Gorrissen) title, that will be released in the spring.
First Second, and Papercutz also had booths at the con (both reported that the show went well for them) and Sea Lion, a new publisher of young adult graphic novels, was offering posters for its graphic novel adaptation of Paolo Coelho's The Alchemist, which is due out in November.
Abrams editor Sheila Keenan had good news for fans of Kazu Kibuishi's Flight: Explorer anthologies: She is editing a similar book, which will feature seven stories by a variety of creators, including Kibuishi and the husband-and-wife team of Dave Roman (Astronaut Elementary) and Raina Telgemeier (Smile). One difference from the original is that the stories will be linked by a common theme: All will feature a magic box of some kind. The book is due out in fall 2011. Author Laura Lee Gulledge was at the Abrams booth signing advance proofs of Page by Paige, a graphic novel for age 12 and up that features an artistic girl who confides her troubles to her sketchbook.
Kids and adults rubbed shoulders at the indie comics booths on the floor, where many publishers have added children's titles to their lines. Matt Loux signed copies of a special Salt Water Taffy coloring book at the Oni Press booth, to promote his graphic novel of the same name, while the Archaia Booth featured the Fraggle Rock anthology alongside Mouse Guard and Return of the Dapper Men. And at Ape Entertainment, Scratch 9 creator Rob Worley was autographing comics alongside Law & Order: SVU star Christopher Meloni, who was there to promote a project of his own. The second issue of Scratch 9, a new series about a cat who can summon up his previous incarnations, was released last week. Ape Entertainment also announced that it will relaunch the classic character Richie Rich as a teenage adventurer and world traveler and will publish Strawberry Shortcake comics, based on the licensed characters, with scratch-and-sniff covers.
Boom! Kids had no new comics to announce, but they were offering special covers at their booth as well as the opportunity to have a number of their artists draw customized covers for their comics (which were printed with blank covers for the occasion).
Several traditional book publishers continued their NYCC practice of putting prose novels front and center and hiding graphic novels at the back of the booth, but Random House did bring in the creative team behind Sons of Liberty for a signing. The first book in the series, which is set before the American Revolution and features escaped slaves with martial arts skills and superpowers, came out earlier this year, and the second is due out in February.