Sales of children’s comics and graphic novels are way up in the book channel, according to figures presented at the ICv2 Insider Sessions during New York Comic Con, but that good news was tempered by the fact that overall sales in comic shops are flat. Nonetheless, this year’s slate of New York Comic Con announcements included both graphic novels and periodical comics aimed at children and teens. Some publishers, it seems, are still willing to bet on the old-fashioned pleasure of a comic you can roll up and stick in your back pocket.
IDW, which already publishes a number of licensed children’s comics, is clearly bullish on the format. At NYCC it announced Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny, a five-issue all-ages miniseries focusing on the female characters in the Star Wars canon, written and drawn by a roster of female creators. The comics will be published weekly beginning in January 2018.
IDW will also publish a comic series based on the Disney XD animated series Big Hero 6, which brings this property full circle, as it began as a Marvel comic series that ran sporadically from 1998 to 2008. Its Goosebumps comics will get a second three-issue arc, to be written by Jen Vaughn and illustrated by Michelle Wong. And finally IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog comic, which was announced at Comic-Con in San Diego last summer, will be written by Ian Flynn, who penned the Sonic comics for Archie for many years.
First Second, which launched its Science Comics series last year, announced a new line of nonfiction graphic novels for middle-grade readers, Maker Comics, which will feature how-to books in comics form. The first titles will be Baking by Falynn Koch (creator of Science Comics: Bats and Science Comics: Plagues) and Car Maintenance by Chris Schweizer (the Crogan Adventures), which will be published in winter 2019. Subsequent titles will feature Sarah Myer on making costumes, Alexis Frederick-Frost on gardening, J.P. Coovert on cartooning, and Colleen AF Venable and Kathryn Hudson on electronics and robotics.
Eisner Award winner Gene Luen Yang has been writing the Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novels for Dark Horse since 2012, with the Japanese duo known as Gurihiru handling the art. Now a new creative team will take over: writer Faith Erin Hicks (The Nameless City; Friends with Boys) and artist Peter Wartman (Over the Wall; Stonebreaker). While Yang is a tough act to follow, Hicks is an Eisner Award winner herself and a longtime fan of the show; she drew an Avatar comic for Free Comic Book Day in 2014. The first volume from the new creative team will be out in fall 2018.
Lion Forge had a mix of comics and graphic novels to announce. Perhaps the most notable is Dinosaucers, a five-issue miniseries based on an animated cartoon that ran for one season in 1987. The comics, which will be written by Michael Uslan and drawn by Andrew Pepoy, feature anthropomorphic dinosaurs who can revert to their prehistoric forms (while retaining their evolved abilities to think and speak) by pushing a button on their uniforms.
Lion Forge also announced some new titles in its Cub House middle-grade line: The Wormworld Saga by German artist Daniel Lieske (who first published it as a webcomic in 2010); Encounter by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani (Tiny Titans; Aw Yeah! Comics), illustrated by Chris Giarrusso (G-Man), a story about an alien who comes to earth and transforms himself into a superhero; This Is a Taco, a spoof of nature books, featuring a squirrel who describes himself in his own terms, by Andrew Cangelose, illustrated by Josh Shipley; and The Lost Path, a graphic novel by Amélie Fléchais, the author of another Lion Forge title The Red Wolf. And there was one format switch: the YA series the Castoffs, by M.K. Reed, Brian Smith, and Wyeth Yates, will drop the floppies and be published exclusively as graphic novels starting with volume three.
While Marvel did not announce any comics properties for children, it did unveil Marvel HQ, a YouTube channel designed to be a destination for children, featuring animated shows starring Marvel characters.