Roaring Brook Press, the children's book publisher acquired by Henry Holt in April, is the latest trade book publisher to announce plans to launch an imprint devoted to comics and graphic novels aimed at teens and younger readers. The announcement follows recent moves into the graphic novel market by such publishers as Del Rey, ibooks, Simon & Schuster (as the distributor of manga publisher Viz) and, most recently, Scholastic.

Simon Boughton, publisher of Roaring Brook, told PW that the house has hired Mark Siegal, formerly a senior designer at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers as well as a respected comics artist and illustrator, to run the new, unnamed imprint. The imprint will release 12 to 15 books a year, beginning in 2006.

The new line will focus on book-format comics for older teens and younger children. "Most will be aimed at 11- to 16-year-old teens," said Boughton. "Those will be more graphic novels, while the books aimed at the younger end will be more like picture books."

Boughton said the launch of the imprint is the result of "months of discussions" with Holt publisher John Sterling and Siegal. He explained, "Bookstores are paying attention. This generation of teens loves visual storytelling of all kinds, and the sensibility of comics artists like Chris Ware and Dan Clowes seems to speak directly to teenagers' concerns."

Siegel, the author Sea Dogs: An Epic Ocean Operetta (Atheneum), said the imprint will have an "American focus with international aspects," tapping artists from both the American indie comics scene and abroad. "It makes sense for us," said Boughton about the imprint. "This adds something new to what we do. We can grow our business without just doing more of the same thing."