Why did the chicken cross the road? Perhaps to audition for a role in a new series from author-illustrator Tom Angleberger, creator of the bestselling Origami Yoda books and many others. In September, Walker Books US will launch—with a 150,000-copy first printing—Two-Headed Chicken, the first graphic novel Angleberger has both written and illustrated.

The story follows the titular fowl who flies the coop, making a heroic escape to avoid death by frying at the hooves of Kernel Antlers (a moose). This maiden flight serves as the kick-off to a series that features wacky humor, a sci-fi vibe, and, in Angleberger style, the breaking of the fourth wall, as readers can join in the two-headed chicken’s adventures traveling across the universe. We have an exclusive first look at the inaugural title’s cover.

Angleberger hatched the idea for the series with an eye toward nostalgia. “These books are an attempt to make a 2020s version of the joke books that Will Eisner and others made for kids in the 1970s,” he said. “With names like 101 Outerspace Jokes and Star Jaws, they poked fun at all the stuff we loved back then—with zero pretension, just epic silliness.”

The cover image for Two-Headed Chicken, featuring a peek at outer space in the background, and the chicken’s two heads squawking about how excited they are to be in the book, was the result of putting several creative human heads together. “The amazing designer, Maria T. Middleton, and the colorist, Joey Ellis, teamed up to make cosmic pop art,” Angleberger said. “The whole book has this wow factor that I never could have created myself.”

Susan Van Metre, executive editorial director at Walker Books US, who is editing Two-Headed Chicken, noted that the project marks a reunion of sorts with an author she knows very well. “Since we worked on the Origami Yoda series together [during Van Metre’s tenure at Abrams], Tom has been one of my favorite writers for kids,” she said. “He understands perfectly the rules and codes and intelligence and anarchic humor of kid world.”

When asked what she thought would draw readers to the new series, Van Metre offered, “I am going to quote Daniel Pinkwater, who blurbed this book for us: ‘You cannot go wrong with a book that has a chicken in it. This book has a two-headed chicken, so it is better. The only thing that could possibly improve such a book would be if it had a moose. This one has a moose. There is other stuff too, but I am not going to tell you the whole thing.’ ”

One element of plotting the two-headed chickens journey that stood out for Angleberger was the resident villain of the story. “The bad guy, Kernel Antlers, is so much fun to draw!” he said. “He’s a very hungry, green moose with a hankering for fried two-headed chicken. Because we hop between so many parallel universes, we see him as a baby, a robot spaceship, a mermaid, and a beloved Dickensian Christmas character.”

Walker US plans to support the series debut with marketing efforts that will include in-store displays, an indie pre-order campaign, book festival and conference appearances for Angleberger, and various giveaways. Next up, Two-headed Chicken, Kernel Antlers, and company will experience time travel, Angleberger said. That second book, tentatively titled Beak to the Future, is due in fall 2023. After that, Van Metre noted, “We hope there will be as many volumes as universes in the multiverse.”

Two-Headed Chicken by Tom Angleberger. Walker Books US, $12.99 Sept. 6 ISBN 978-1-5362-2321-7