When Random House Children’s Books announced that it would be launching its own graphic novel imprint, the comics world was rocked. Graphic novels for children and young adults had proven to be massively successful, and now one of the biggest publishers in the world was launching a dedicated imprint under the leadership of Gina Gagliano, an original employee of Macmillan’s graphic novel imprint, First Second. Gagliano played an essential role in expanding First Second’s public profile and advocating for exciting new comics voices as the associate director of marketing and publicity, and she now has much greater influence as the publishing director of Random House Graphic.
The imprint’s first slate of books arrives Spring 2020, and The A.V. Club has an exclusive first look at interior pages for the four new releases. “At Random House Graphic, making graphic novels for all kids and teens is our mission,” says Gagliano. “We want to make comics an integral part of every childhood reading experience and are so excited for our first books to make their debut. We are thrilled to share this early preview of these new graphic novels, and share even more at this Thursday’s NYCC panels.”
Laura Knetzger’s Bug Boys is aimed at the youngest readers, a beginner’s chapter book about two bug besties learning about themselves and the world around them. These pages have a lot of sweetness and charm as they show a game of Bug Ball and a day on the beach, and Knetzger’s designs are simple enough that a kid can replicate them in their own drawings. Aster And The Accidental Magic, written by Thom Pico with art by Karensac, and Johan Troianowski’s The Runaway Princess are Random House Graphic’s forays into middle grade fiction, both spotlighting young women with adventurous spirits. Aster gives off some strong Hilda vibes with its crisp, vibrant artwork, while The Runaway Princess embraces a more esoteric art style to visually distinguish its rebellious lead from more traditional depictions of royalty in children’s fiction.
Girls and young women are driving graphic novel sales—Raina Telgemeier’s Guts was the best-selling book in the U.S. last week—so it’s no surprise that Random House Graphic spotlights female characters. The sole YA spring release, Jessi Zabarsky’s Witchlight, explores the growing relationship between a witch and her new friend, which changes as secrets from the past come to light. These pages highlight how magic morphs Zabarsky’s visual storytelling, altering the color palette and panel layouts to put the reader in a different headspace when spells are being cast.
You can learn more about each of Random House Graphic’s Spring 2020 titles by visiting its website, and if you’re at New York Comic-Con this weekend, check out Random House Graphic’s booth (#2205) and two panels for a more in-depth exploration of the imprint’s mission and upcoming releases.