Abrams has announced the launch of Megascope, a new imprint under its ComicArts program that will publish a variety of graphic novels focused on the experiences of people of color. The new imprint will be directed and curated by John Jennings, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, as well as an acclaimed comics artist, and co-creator (with Damian Duffy) of Kindred: A Graphic Novel, an Eisner award-winning comics adaptation of Octavia Butler’s classic novel published by Abrams in 2017.
Jennings will acquire titles for the new line and provide editorial vision for the Megascope list, which will feature speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and horror, as well as creative nonfiction works. The Megascope imprint will publish four to six books a year with the first book to be released in fall 2019.
Editor Charlotte Greenbaum will work alongside Jennings at the imprint to oversee the publishing process for Megascope titles. Megascope will also be overseen by Andrew Smith, senior v-p of Abrams Children’s Books and ComicArts, and by Abrams ComicArts editorial director Charles Kochman, who both worked to recruit Jennings to launch the imprint. The launch of Megascope will also mark the ten year anniversary of the Abrams ComicArts line of comics and comics-related titles.
Jennings has established an advisory board for Megascope featuring scholars and comics experts who will be available to help research and initiate new book projects. Jennings said that running a publishing line "combines [well] with my work as an academic," and that overseeing a book line is "a big task but it’s necessary and Abrams has been really excited about bringing me on.”
The name of the imprint is taken from a work of speculative fiction written in 1908 by the celebrated African American sociologist and NAACP founder W.E.B. Dubois. Dubois's Megascope, Jennings explained, is a fictional instrument that allows its viewers to see “undiscovered stories from our past. It’s a really interesting allegorical device.”
Jennings added that the choice to focus Megascope on speculative fiction is in part a nod to the fact that it is a broad category that includes such popular genres as horror, science fiction, afrosurrealism and afrofuturism, as well as similar works by Latinx and indigenous writers. Speculative fiction, Jennings said, can offer “an off kilter view of the world from communities often seen as 'other.’” He then added: "Everyone who participates in our society deserves to see themselves and their culture reflected back to them in the media. We plan to reach back and find speculative critical narratives of the past and introduce them to new audiences.”