Penguin's Berkley/NAL division is starting a graphic novel line called InkLit which will do original titles as well as graphic adaptations of already-published prose works. InkLit will launch on October 2 with the release of Patricia Briggs's Alpha and Omega: Volume 1. Richard Johnson, who co-founded Yen Press and is a former v-p of trade book sales at DC Comics, will be overseeing the new imprint.

Alpha and Omega: Volume 1 is an adaptation of Briggs's 2008 book, published by Ace, Cry Wolf, which was the first in an urban fantasy series. The series was also turned into graphic works by Dynamite Entertainment, which issued an eight-issue series. InkLit's hardcover edition of Alpha and Omega: Volume 1 will reissue the first four comics in the Dynamite series, while the forthcoming Alpha and Omega: Volume 2, set for 2013, will reissue the last four titles in Dynamit's out-of-print comic.

Forthcoming titles from InkLit include comics by Charlaine Harris, who writes the Sookie Stackhouse novels (which are the basis of HBO's True Blood); Laurell K. Hamilton; Karin Slaughter; and Atlantic editor/cartoonist Sage Stossel.

Johnson was v-p of book trade sales at DC Comics from 1997-2006 and was instrumental in establishing hardcover and trade paperback collections of DC Comics titles in the general book trade at time when the comics industry was focused almost solely on periodical publishing. He has long worked to institutionalize graphic novels in both the bookstore and library market. In a phone interview with Johnson, he said that while the InkLit line plans more adapations of prose works—he cited forthcoming graphic novels from Harris, Hamilton and Slaughter—and he said the line is definitely on the lookout for original works and new properties.

InkLit plans to adapt Slaughter’s Martin Misunderstood, a quirky crime story about a loser falsely accused of murder who seems to embrace the accusation. He said Stossel’s forthcoming graphic novel, I, Starling, “is about a girl who works in the marketing department of a corporation but moonlights as a superhero. Sage is very funny and her artwork is unique.”

Johnson said right now he will be using “existing” Penguin staff to run the new imprint; a digital strategy is being discussed and that he will be “trolling” the floor at the forthcoming New York Comic-con in October. “This is a great time for graphic novels and the visual storytelling medium,” Johnson said, “print is still alive, digital is growing and we’re offering comics artists another place to be published.”