This year's Comic-Con International in San Diego, the biggest North American comics convention of the year, had a strong children's and young adult graphic novels presence, reflecting the continuing rapid growth in the category.
Special guests at the Con included Cece Bell (El Deafo), Ben Hatke (who won the Eisner Award this year for best book for early readers for Little Robot), Jeff Smith (Bone), Noelle Stevenson (who also won a 2016 Eisner for Nimona, previously nominated for a National Book Award), and G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel). The children’s creators all received equal billing and treatment with adult category creators such as legendary comics executive Stan Lee and acclaimed cartoonist Kate Beaton.
The show featured a robust schedule of programming about children's and YA comics, including three full days of panels at the nearby San Diego Central Library that were open to anyone with or without a convention badge. Topics included comics creation, diversity, censorship, and using comics in the classroom. And on the exhibit floor, BOOM! Studios devoted an entire wall of its booth to all-ages titles, while children's graphic novel publisher Papercutz moved its booth to a more prominent spot on the exhibition floor (held for the past few years by noted indie house Fantagraphics, which in turn moved to a better spot vacated by Top Shelf, which now exhibits).
With the mobile game Pokemon Go bringing Viz Media’s Pokemon manga franchise back into the spotlight, the Pokemon Adventures team of writer Hidenori Kusaka and artist Satoshi Yamamoto were a big draw. The pair signed autographs at the booth of Viz Media, one of the largest publishers of manga in North America, and held a lively panel at the Horton Grand Theater a few blocks from the show.
Editors and creators from Scholastic's Graphix imprint appeared on a panel on Friday to announce a competition to identify new creators. The contest is open to U.S. artists whose work has not yet been published, and up to five will be selected to be published by Graphix, which is already home to Jeff Smith's Bone, Raina Telgemeier's new release, Ghosts, and her bestselling Smile and Sisters, and Ru Xu's upcoming NewsPrints; all three creators appeared on the panel.
Random House Children's Books will publish a series of three graphic novels created by Mark Siegel, editorial director of Macmillan's graphic novel imprint First Second, and written and illustrated by team of emerging comics creators. The first book, 5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior, is scheduled for release in May 2017.
Pioneering American manga publisher Tokyopop, which has been inactive in print publishing in the North American market since 2011, has been making a modest comeback. publishing original manga adaptations of Disney properties using manga artists from Japan. At Comic-Con they announced the latest license, the two-volume shoujo (girls) manga adaptation of Disney's upcoming live-action version of Beauty and the Beast. One volume of the manga tells the story from Belle's point of view, the other from the Beast's.
As has become increasingly common, a number of publishers had announcements to make in the days immediately before the opening of Comic-Con:
BOOM! Studios announced Mega Princess, a new all-ages comics series by writer Kelly Thompson (Jem and the Holograms) and artist Brianne Drouhard (Harpy Gee). It's the story of a princess whose fairy godmother gives her all the princess gifts, including the ability to talk to animals.
Dark Horse announced Spell on Wheels: Night of the Wand, a story about three witches on a hunt to retrieve their magical objects, which will launch in October. The creators are Kate Leth (Adventure Time: Seeing Red) and Megan Levens (Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10), and Ming Doyle (Girl Over Paris) will do the covers. Five monthly issues are planned.
Also coming from Dark Horse: a second story arc of Chimichanga, Eric Powell's tale of a bearded girl in a strange circus. This new four-issue series, which was originally announced last year, will be illustrated by Stephanie Buscema and will launch in October.
Magnetic Press announced Little Tales, a new series by Frédéric Brémaud and Eisner-nominated artist Federico Bertolucci, creators of Love: The Tiger and Love: The Fox. While the Love books are wordless, painted graphic novels that follow the title animal, Little Tales juxtaposes a comic strip about a dog, Chipper, and a squirrel, Squizzo, with the same sort of lushly painted nature scenes that adorn their earlier books.
And finally, Papercutz announced the launch of Charmz, a new line of "relationship-driven stories" for pre-teens and early teens. The first four titles will launch in May 2017. The house also has big expectations for Jessica Abel’s YA graphic novel, Trish Trash: Rollergirl of Mars, coming in November; Papercutz production coordinator Jeff Whitman said orders of the hardcover edition have been even better than expected.