All Ages

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Sabrina Manga

One more post before San Diego...

Yesterday I picked up two issues of the new manga-ified Sabrina the Teenage Witch from my local magazine store in Little Italy. Needless to say the clerk looked at me pretty strangely. I just paid for my two issues and skipped off...

I read through both of them tonight before going to the Scissor Sisters concert (amazing show btw...if you haven't heard of this band, you MUST check them out) and was amazed at how self aware they are. In fact, the first issue even has a little frame narrative at the beginning explaining what manga is and what Sabrina and her friends' lives would be like if they were in a manga-type comic -- a big magical whirlwind and voila...Sabrina's traded in her traditonal blonde locks for a cute manga bob. Not sure what this all means though -- will Archie Comics only run this as long as the "manga fad" stays popular? -- do kids feel the need for an explanation why their comic has suddenly switched art styles? -- do they even care? From the letters printed in the back, everyone seems to like Tania Del Rio's interpretation of the popular teenage witch. I enjoyed them -- straightforward, appealing stories and clean panel layouts, probably two of the most important aspects in teaching kids the language of comics. Curious...if this is successful will Archie follow suit with its other characters.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Bone

I remember buying my first issue of Bone when I was 16, at a comic store in Hamilton, a city about a half and hour away from my hometown. After getting my driver's license I used to sneak out to comic stores in other cities without telling my parents because there was always something new and more exciting to buy. It was issue #8 -- the one with the famous image of young Thorn and a group of dragons. Bone had gained some popularity in the indie circles at this point and back issues were hard to find and when you did find them, they were expensive. Trade paperbacks were a rarity at that point in the industry so I had to take in what I could from the few issues I could scrounge up here and there. Bone was something totally different than most of the superhero stuff I was reading at the time and I knew it was great.

University came along, I stopped buying tons o'comics, Bone went to Image and I lost track of the book. But before that, I bought a collection of the first 6 issues of Bone and finally filled in the gaps that I had missed years earlier. And now, 10 years later, after being invited to meet with Jeff Smith by the Graphix team in NYC, I bought all 8 volumes and read them back-to-back in two days. I always knew Bone was great, but this time it blew me away.

Despite what many people in the industry think, kids want to read comics. They just disappeared out of their immediate vision for a while with the rise of the Direct Market and the narrowing of genres published. If you put a comic in a kid's hands, they will read them. Publishing for children is all about tapping into those true experiences that all kids have. Making references and connections to things that kids really care about, are afraid of and get excited over. Bone accomplishes this all -- family, friendship, epic struggle, comedy, fun, action, magic, the reluctant hero -- I think you get the picture.

I just finished reading volume 9 of Bone and now everything's come full circle from the day I picked up that first issue of Bone back in high school. Sentimental? Me? Of course I am...how lucky am I to be part of promoting a comic I stand by wholeheartedly to an audience that's been missing from comics for so long. I'm damn lucky...

Monday, July 19, 2004

More Graphix

David Saylor, Creative Director at Scholastic in NYC talks more about GRAPHIX here including how the line came to be, how they came up with BONE  to be the flagship title and the next wave of titles including great creators like Chynna Clugston-Major, Christine Norrie and Raina Telgemeier.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Brian O'Malley

...or Mal to his good friends, including myself, is an outstanding comics creator. Newsarama has just posted a short interview with him where he talks about his new graphic novel, SCOTT PILGRIM, which I am highly anticipating. Mal's first graphic novel LOST AT SEA is also worth checking out. This is one of those situations where I don't mind sticking my neck out to hype a friend because he's that good. Now if only I could get a few kids book concepts out of him...

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Graphix update

Newsarama was kind enough to compile Janna Morishima's comments on Graphix and BONE in the thread here.

The BONE highlights include:
- nine 6" x 9" volumes will be released twice a year starting with the first one in February 2005
- the series will be in full-colour, handled by Steve Hamaker, who was hand-picked by Jeff Smith himself
- there will be two editions, a limited run hardcover priced at $18.95 US and the paperback edition priced at $9.95 US

So far the feedback has been phenomenal, which is great to see. A lot of Scholastic people including myself will be in San Diego this year to get things off the ground.

Friday, July 02, 2004

My dream becomes a reality.

Chris Butcher over at comics.212.net has the official announcement for Scholastic's new kids graphic novel line, called GRAPHIX from Publisher's Weekly News Bulletin. I wasn't sure when the announcement would be made but I've been bursting at the seams about this since January. I'd imagine San Diego will be the place for a significant amount of press, Three and a half years ago I started in the Book Club divison at Scholastic in Canada and this is the culimation of my dream. Not only will this help make the medium more legit, push comics in more book stores but it marks the return of comics written with actual kids in mind. And having BONE to launch the line is just icing on the cake. Defnitely more to come on this one...