DC Launches YA, Kids Graphic Novel Lines

DC Ink, DC Zoom logos

In this NY Times article, it’s revealed that DC will launch two new graphic novel imprints this fall.

DC Zoom will feature stories for middle grade readers, and DC Ink will focus on young adults…. Though a few of the graphic novels will have creators who are already working in the comic book industry, the majority of the writers are a Who’s Who of popular novelists for young readers.

Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics is quoted as saying “material for 7- to 15-year-olds [is] our biggest growth area in the store. The young people coming into stores are not getting material they can take ownership of.” Don’t we know it! The traditional comic shop audience is dying off, and to survive, they need to grow new readers. Kids love comics, but they’re more likely to read something from Graphix than DC or Marvel these days. If DC wants to keep their characters relevant, they need to reposition them for a new audience, and it appears the immensely successful Super Hero Girls line is a model.

DC Zoom promotional art

DC Zoom promotional art by Mayo “Sen” Naito

The first two DC Ink books will focus on Harley Quinn and Mera (separately, not as a team-up). DC Zoom’s first book will be DC Super Hero Girls: Search for Atlantis by Shea Fontana and Yancey Labat, who have done other work for that property. Plus, there’s going to be a book by Gene Luen Yang titled Superman Smashes the Klan. (How timely!)

Update: DC has posted a more complete listing of planned titles.

The first titles from DC Ink include Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki with art by Steve Pugh, and Mera by Danielle Paige.

Additional confirmed upcoming titles and authors for DC Ink [coming in 2019] include:

BATMAN: GOTHAM HIGH – Melissa de la Cruz
BATMAN: NIGHTWALKER – THE GRAPHIC NOVEL – Marie Lu
TEEN TITANS – Kami Garcia
UNDER THE MOON: A CATWOMAN TALE – Lauren Myracle
WONDER WOMAN: TEMPEST TOSSED – Laurie Halse Anderson

Additional confirmed titles and authors for DC Zoom include:

BATMAN TALES: ONCE UPON A CRIME – writer and artist: Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyen
BATMAN: OVERDRIVE – Shea Fontana
BLACK CANARY: IGNITE – Meg Cabot
DEAR JUSTICE LEAGUE – Michael Northrop
GREEN LANTERN: LEGACY – Minh Lê
SUPER SONS – Ridley Pearson
SUPERMAN OF SMALLVILLE – writer and artist: Art Baltazar & Franco
SUPERMAN SMASHES THE KLAN – Gene Yang, will be released as periodicals first, then collected

They’re going to focus on girls — “If you look at readership in middle grade and Y.A. in general, you’ll see a swing on the side of female readers,” said Michele Wells, the vice president for content strategy at DC — and on character work instead of superheroing.

I’m glad to see it. “Comics for kids” has a tricky history among the corporate superhero publishers. They all used to be for kids, until the insecure started running the companies and decided to “prove” they weren’t mentally defective for loving them by doing “mature” stories. Now, you have to have special lines and markers that superheroes are kid-safe. And the hard part comes when even the youngest readers know that those comics aren’t the “real ones”. Youngsters don’t like to be patronized.

Yet the DC Super Hero Girls comics have been great, in part because they can reinvent the characters to be relevant to modern kids, and in part because they don’t have to worry about tying into years of stories and whatever the latest corporate event is. It’s about time DC used its rich character history to build all kinds of young readers instead of trying to reproduce the traditional young white male audience.



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