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Coming Attractions: Graphic Novels at Book Expo 2019

Book Expo 2019

NYC Book Expo 2019 has come to a close. And while it ran for three days, piggybacked by Book Con, at the Jacob Javits center in NYC, I was only able to attend one day. I would have surely enjoyed another day, and would have probably seen so much more, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and came home with piles of books to read.

For the most part, I spent my time going up and down the aisles grabbing as many advanced reading copies as I could get my hands on, but I also spent a couple of hours at some panels relating to graphic novels.

At the Scholastic booth, I grabbed a copy of Jennifer L. Holm and MathewSunny Rolls the Dice Holm’s Sunny Rolls the Dice, which is due out in October. This, along with Raina Telgemeier’s Guts, is probably Scholastic’s hottest fall commodity, but later I attended a panel with John J. Muth, and I realized I had passed up a copy of Muth’s upcoming comic The 7th Voyage.

I spent some time hanging out at the Top Shelf table. There were so many kids’ titles to discuss, but I’m probably the most excited about George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy, which is about his experience about being imprisoned in the Japanese Internment camps. (The book will be released in July 2019.)

Top Shelf and parent company IDW had plenty on hand for the middle grade crowd:

I know that a new Sonic the Hedgehog: Battle for Angel Island, written by Ian Flynn, which is being released in July, will surely have a following among some of my students!

In their Marvel Action line, Spiderman: A New Beginning is being released this month. In this story, Peter Parker is joined by Miles Morales (yes! The new Spider-Man!) and Gwen Stacy to survive high school.

Red Panda & Moon Bear by Jarod Rosello is a new series about a brother and sister who solve mysteries all while their parents are out.

In August, Surfside Girls: The Mystery at the Old Rancho sounds like a great combination of spooky and mystery. With ghosts in action, it will be a great add-on to your Halloween display.

At the Lion Forge Table, it looked like signed copies of Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker were the hot ticket. I didn’t get my hands on one, but the super cute cover and fun tag line really looks like it will jump off of library shelves.

On the Kaboom! Side of BOOM! Studios, I picked up a copy of R.L. Stine’s Just Beyond: Scare School. Even in middle school, his Goosebumps and Fear Street books are regularly requested, so this will surely be exciting for readers looking for a good scare. Look for this in September.

At Oni, I mostly collected some catalogs (and a free copy of SciFu, which is already circulating well in my library). Leafing through a catalog, I was excited to see that a fifth volume of Courtney Crumrin is being released in paperback. And I was told that a Tea Dragon Society prequel was coming out soon.

Random House Graphic (which now has a super snazzy logo) has a while until its debut list is launched, but it did show some cover art of four books to look forward to in Winter 2020: Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger, The Runaway Princess by John Troianowski, Aster and the Accidental Magic by Thom Pico, and Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky. Random House offered very few details, but there will be more to come as the debut is closer.

First Second was giving a preview of Best Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, which is a companion to Real Friends. Investigators, by John Patrick Green, looks like a great middle grade read. At the Graphic Novel Spotlight panel, Jen Wang was discussing her upcoming title StarGazing, which is loosely based on her childhood experiences but entirely fictionalized. In her words, it’s meant to depict the lives of Chinese American families and to highlight how their experiences varied within their community.

Melanie Gillman was also on the panel promoting their next title, Stage Dreams, which they dubbed as a Lesbian Western. They described the research that went into the title, which as a librarian, I found super fascinating. I also noted that while I always found Gillman’s artwork soft and muted, I was so surprised how their bright and bubbly stage personality contrasted their artwork.

Between the DC Spotlight panel I attended and the long conversation I had with one of the marketing reps at the booth, I am very excited for the new DC Zoom and DC Ink lines. Zoom is an imprint for middle grade titles, while Ink is geared for teens. What’s eye-opening and different is that they are recruiting well known young adult and children authors like Meg Cabot, Lauren Myracle, and Ridley Pearson to write the books. The writers aren’t beholden to the history of the superheroes, which gives them the freedom to really own these characters.

At the spotlight, writers Kami Garcia (Raven) and Meg Cabot (Black Canary) discussed how they chose their characters. Cabot said that Black Canary was a lot like her—outspoken, with a father who is in law enforcement. The authors described how they perused the catalog of characters choosing who to write and in some cases ignoring much of the backstory to make the books their own.

While walking the aisles, I saw a colleague and stopped to say hello and she was deep in conversation with Laurie Halse Anderson. Anderson told us that she had just finished writing a Wonder Woman story (I believe for the Ink line), where Wonder Woman goes off the island and lands in Queens.

I’m sure I missed a whole lot too, but these were just some of the highlights that I experienced. After the show, as I mulled things over, I noticed an absence of manga representation. I did run into John Shableski, who represents the Manga Classics line, and I saw a Yen Press table, but it was near the end of the show and they weren’t all that talkative.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.


  1. Greg Hunter says

    Melanie Gillman’s pronouns are they/them — could you please change?

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