Crowds of young readers flocked to New York Comic Con, held October 12–15 at the Javits Center in Manhattan. Kids—and plenty of adults who read kids’ comics—snapped up early releases, giveaways, and pics with favorite creators, while trade book publishers offered original and licensed graphic novels, prose books, and novelty items grouped in eye-catching displays.
Fantasy continues to be a huge category draw for pop culture con-goers across both comics and prose. Penguin Random House spotlighted Christopher Paolini’s novel Murtagh, set in the world of his YA series Eragon; while it’s not on sale until November, fans who showed proof of pre-orders were awarded holographic stickers. The top seller at the Disney booth was Rick Riordan’s latest, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Chalice of the Gods. Over at HarperAlley, editor-in-chief Andrew Arnold said Erin Hunter’s Warriors graphic novels proved once again a perennial favorite, and he talked up the forthcoming Dungeon Critters graphic novel and series from Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter.
What’s a Comic Con without superheroes? Mini Spider-Man cosplayers darted between the aisles, and they could pick up the Spidey and His Amazing Friends early-reader comics at the Disney booth or Mike Maihack’s Spider-Man: Animals Assemble at the Abrams booth. Abrams reported that it was close to sold out of its chunky Marvel Block Books and board books by Sunday afternoon. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing reported a run on Jason Reynolds’s prose novel Miles Morales: Suspended, which was gone by Saturday afternoon.
Licensed properties continue to fare well in general, notably as kids and their parents respond to nostalgia brands. Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles activation was swarmed with families (the animated feature is currently screening in theaters) and the tie-in comics from IDW were reported as a bestseller at ICv2’s industry report. Penguin Random House gave away more than 100 copies of its latest Dungeons & Dragons Young Adventurers Guide, Places & Portals, and author Jim Zub was there to sign them.
Original graphic novels flew off tables, too. Scholastic gave away posters promoting Waverider, the ninth and final volume of Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series, due out in February 2024; Kibuishi was on hand to autograph books, and also joined panels with fellow Graphix imprint authors Raina Telgemeier and Molly Knox Ostertag. At the First Second booth, Faith Erin Hicks signed her YA graphic novel Hockey Girl Loves Drama Boy. Over at Simon & Schuster, readers got an advance reader’s copy peek at the new diary-style middle grade series Maple’s Theory of Fun by Kate McMillan and Ruthie Prillaman. They also sold completely out of the Barb the Berserker graphic novels, as well as Jason Reynolds and Raul the Third’s Stuntboy, in the Meantime, by Saturday afternoon.
In professional and library programming, the popularity of comics as targets for censorship was a frequent topic of discussion, from raising awareness to specific strategies for countering book banning efforts, including a panel led by PW graphic novels reviews editor Meg Lemke, "Joining Forces: Comics Publishers, Librarians, and Retailers Unite—and Unite Fans—Against Book Bans." Off the show floor, controversy bubbled over Scholastic Book Fair’s decision to allow participating schools and libraries to opt out of offering a set of books featuring LGBTQ and racial issues, which the company stated was in response to pending and recently enacted laws in more than 30 states that could put school and library administrators in legal jeopardy if they stock books that deal with those topics.
At the NYCC Scholastic party on Thursday night, Witch Boy creator Ostertag made a statement, which she also released on social media, calling the decision a “grave miscalculation,” and urged Scholastic to stand up for not only its authors but also the readers they serve. “Trans and nonbinary children have an elevated suicide risk—with over 50% attempting, according to the HRC—for the simple reason that they cannot imagine a future for themselves,” she wrote. “When we send books that depict that future, we are sending a lifeline…. When you allow a single school official to make a choice, whether out of bigotry or out of fear, and sever that lifeline—when you make it easy for them to do—it is very literally a matter of life and death.”
This article has been updated for clarity.