Capstone Press, a nonfiction imprint of educational and library publishing house Capstone Publishers, plans to add a new line of kids' nonfiction graphic novels to its fast-growing comics and graphic novel publishing program. This fall the house is launching Graphic Expeditions, a nonfiction line of graphic novels that will debut with six titles that aim to introduce young readers to social studies, history and world cultures.

The new line will feature stories starring the archaeologist Dr. Isabel “Izzy” Soto, who will star in fictional accounts of trips around the world investigating mysteries and historical eras and events, all backed up by appropriate social studies research and vocabulary levels. Titles include Building the Great Wall of China and Exploring the Titanic. Graphic Expeditions will feature six titles aimed at pre-school to eighth-grade readers offered in library bindings ($19.99) and paperback. The house will publish four additional titles in the series in January 2010. The books are designed and produced in-house and feature illustrators, inkers and colorists who have worked for comics publishers like DC Comics and Marvel.

Capstone Publishers president Matt Keller described the new line as “exciting stories with solid content correlated to curriculum standards.” Graphic Expeditions is the newest line of comics to be added to Capstone’s extensive comics program. In 2009 Capstone Press will publish 12 nonfiction graphic novels, including four titles under its Graphic Science series. Stone Arch Books, Capstone’s fiction imprint, will publish about 67 graphic novels in 2009, bringing the total program to about 80 titles for the year.

Kristen Mohn, product planning editor at Capstone Press, said the press has been ramping up its graphic novel program over the last four years. “We’ve had so much feedback from teachers,” she explained. “Kids will pick up pretty much any topic if it's in a graphic format. It’s a great opportunity to convey information and we’re not the only publisher that’s taken notice.”

Indeed Michael Dahl, editorial director, fiction, at Stone Arch Press, said the house is planning to expand its fiction list again, adding a series of longer comics works—from its current 88-page fiction works to books over 100 pages. Capstone began to focus on comics about four years ago, Dahl said, launching an extensive list of fiction that includes both licensed characters and original works. The house publishes a number of adaptations of literary classics and also publishes a line of 32-page books called My First Graphic Novel, aimed at pre-schoolers. While the house’s core market is the school and library sector, Dahl said Stone Arch is slowly moving into the trade and international markets and has added a new trade sales force. “You can find our books in B&N and Borders now,” he said.

Capstone books are leveled to the appropriate grade and vocabulary standards and also designed to put parents at ease about content. Dahl emphasized that Capstone’s books are “safe. It’s a big concern for parents who notice typical comic book heroines in Spandex with D-cups. There’s nothing inappropriate. Even with the classics, we don’t change the story, but we’re discreet about depicting violence, blood and gore.”