Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is launching a graphic novel imprint, LB Ink, that will encompass all of its early reader, middle grade, and young adult graphic novels. Andrea Colvin, LBYR’s editorial director, graphic publishing, will head up the new imprint, and the logo will start appearing on books in fall 2023.

LBYR’s graphic novel output has grown exponentially from three titles in 2019, the year that Colvin came on board, to the 20 per year that they expect to publish under the LB Ink imprint. “The time is right to recognize this exceptional and robust program with its own name,” said LBYR president and publisher Megan Tingley in a statement. Colvin agreed, telling PW that she has plenty of books in the pipeline and anticipates a strong fall 2023 season. The mix of titles will be about 60 to 75% middle grade, she said, because that is the biggest and most mature market, with the rest falling in the early-readers and YA categories.

As she was building the line, Colvin was also shaping it. “I think that all of the really successful imprints have their own personality,” she said. “First Second is not the same as Graphix. They have a different feel and tone.” For LB Ink, she is focusing on stories that are “authentic and relatable,” with an emphasis on contemporary themes and voices, rather than fantasy or science fiction. Some are stories about middle-class children dealing with family and relationship problems, such as Tori Sharp’s Let’s Pretend, one of her most popular acquisitions so far. Others are about extraordinary experiences, such as Numb to This, Kindra Neely’s memoir of surviving a mass shooting and its aftermath, and Muhammad Najem, War Reporter, the true story of a teenager who used his phone and social media to report on the war in Syria.

When she was at Lion Forge (now Oni Press), Colvin was the editor of Gender Queer, which is currently the most challenged graphic novel in the country. Despite the recent wave of challenges to books that center LGBTQ+ characters and people of color, Colvin will continue to include them in LB Ink. “I love queer stories,” she said. “I grew up reading not-queer stories, and it’s exciting to have them. And there are so many different types of queer stories. I’m doing stories with queer and nonbinary characters where that is not the focus of the story at all, but I’m also doing middle grade stories about coming out and discovering your gender identity.”

Colvin doesn’t plan to take LB Ink in a new direction just because it’s an imprint. “This is just putting a name to what we have been building from the beginning,” she said. And what she has been building is a line of graphic novels that engages readers in a direct way with a variety of compelling stories. “I’m looking for authentic voices that readers can really connect to,” she said. “It needs to be relatable to kids who are reading today; they need to be able to see themselves in it and it needs to be the kind of thing that they want to keep coming back to.”