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Abrams Fall 2021 | Incoming

Cover of Run, from Abrams Fall 2021 Catalog

We’re starting a new regular feature here at GC4K: “Incoming” will be a briefing on graphic novels coming out in the near or far future, depending on the intel we get. We’re going to start with a look at the Abrams Fall 2021 catalog, which has a lot to look forward to.

Abrams ComicArts

Three books from the Abrams ComicArts imprint look like good bets for teen readers. First off is Run, the sequel to Rep. John Lewis’s graphic memoir trilogy March. This book has been in the works for a while, and it has a new artist, L. Fury, with the cover and some additional art by Nate Powell, the artist for March. Run is scheduled for August 3, and it’s going to be a hardcover with a sticker price of $24.99; like March, it will be entirely in black and white.

(Side note: If you can’t get enough of that Nate Powell goodness, check out his new graphic novel, Save It for Later, a set of seven comics essays about living and parenting in troubled times. It’s not specifically a kids’ book—neither is Run—but it is a good read.)

The Last Mechanical Monster, by Brian Fies, is also not, strictly speaking, a kids’ book, but it’s appropriate for all ages and has a whimsical humor that will appeal to some. This story of a revenge-seeking mad scientist who is disoriented by modern life—and further discombobulated by the kindness of those he encounters in this new century—originally ran as a webcomic, and it was nominated for the Eisner Award for Best Digital Comic in 2014 and 2015. Abrams will publish the book as a hardcover in January 2022. Fies is also the creator of A Fire Story, a memoir of losing everything in the California wildfires; Abrams recently published an updated paperback edition that includes Fies’ account of going through a second fire.

Cover of Lifetime Passes

Lifetime Passes is by Terry Blas and Claudia Aguirre, who previously teamed up on the middle-grade comic Hotel Dare. Unlike that one, Lifetime Passes is a YA graphic novel, with teens front and center and acting terrible, as teens are wont to do. In this case, they have figured out that the local amusement part offers lifetime passes to the family of anyone who dies there, so they start bringing senior citizens from a local elder community to the park in hopes that one of them will croak. Their first “guest” turns out to be a lot shrewder than they expected, though. Lifetime Passes will be available in hardcover and paperback starting on October 26. Blas is a cracking good writer—he’s also the author of Dead Weight: Murder at Camp Bloom—and Lifetime Passes sounds like it will be delightful. While you’re waiting, check out Monica Gallagher’s Part-Time Princesses, which came out a couple of years ago; the teens are just as cynical but in this story, they work at the park. And Hamish Steele’s Deadendia puts a supernatural spin on the amusement part setting.

Abrams Amulet

Amulet is the home of the Wimpy Kid series, and while those books are not technically graphic novels, they definitely live in the same space, so we’ll note in passing that vol. 16 of Diary of a Wimpy Kid (no subtitle or cover yet) is slated for October and the spinoff Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories is due out in March 2022.

Cold War Correspondent: The 11th volume of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales is told from the point of view of Marguerite Higgins, who attained the title of bureau chief of the Far East Asia desk of the New York Herald in 1950, just in time to be front and center for the beginning of the Korean War. Her firsthand reporting on the invasion of Seoul gained her worldwide attention, but the U.S. Army ordered her and all other women journalists out of the country. She pled her case to General Douglas MacArthur, who reversed the order, allowing her to stay on the front lines and report on many of the most important events of the war. The hardcover, rated for ages 8 to 12, will be available in October 2021. Also in the works: A deluxe, oversized hardcover version of the first book in the series: One Dead Spy: Bigger & Badder Edition, which will include 15 new pages of minicomics.

The Extincts: Quest for the Unicorn Horn: This is the first volume of a planned series by writer/artist Scott Magoon that stars a team of extinct animals who work together as the Rescue Ops Acquisition Rangers (R.O.A.R.). Their first mission takes them to Siberia, where thawing permafrost threatens an ancient unicorn horn. A lighthearted adventure story with an environmental twist, this series is aimed at readers ages 8-12. The first volume will go on sale in paperback and hardcover on January 4, 2022.

We Are the Smurfs: There’s not a lot of information available about this new series, and it’s not clear how exactly it will differ from the Smurfs graphic novels Papercutz is already publishing, but it’s definitely listed in the Abrams catalogue (with the slightly different title Meet the Smurfs). The series “focuses on emotional learning, social responsibility, and overall Smurf–iness,” and each hardcover volume contains three complete stories. The first volume is scheduled for October 2021.

We Have a Playdate: This cheery early-readers graphic novel by Frank W. Dormer, is a whimsical tale about three friends who arrive at the playground to find a bear on the slide. With bold colors, simple shapes, and a limited number of panels per page, this book is geared for young readers, ages 6 to 9, and would be a good pick for fans of Narwhal & Jelly and the many other emerging-reader graphic novels that are springing up all over the place (for more on this trend, see my recent PW article, Comics Formats Go Younger). The 96-page, full color hardcover will be released on August 10.

Jojo’s Sweet Adventures: The Great Candy Caper: This graphic novel by entertainer and YouTube personality Jojo Siwa looks like a trip to Candyland: Jojo is invited to perform at the grand opening of a candy-themed amusement park, and she brings her two best friends Kyra and Grace to join her. It’s all good fun until Grace disappears into the gumball pit, and the others have to search the park for her, but the book is rated for ages 6 to 9, so we know her fate won’t be too dire. With its high-key pastels and whimsical fantasy theme, this book would be a good choice for fans of My Little Pony. Or for fans of Siwa herself: She has over 10 million followers on Instagram, Nickelodeon has designed a set of dolls based on her and her fictional friends, and Abrams already publishes JoJo and Bow Bow chapter books. The Great Candy Caper is scheduled for September and will be available in both paperback and hardcover editions.

Pixels of You: This sci-fi graphic novel by Ananth Hirsh and Yuko Ota (creators of Lucky Penny and Johnny Wander) and artist J.R. Doyle is set in the future and features a teen girl who has been cybernetically augmented after an accident and an artificial intelligence that presents as human. Both are photographers and interns at a gallery, and at first they don’t get along, but after matters come to a head, their mentor forces them to collaborate. They move from reluctance to friendship to something deeper as they contemplate what exactly it means to be an artist—and a person. The book will be released in both paperback and hardcover formats in November 2021.

Witch for Hire: Ted Naifeh, the creator of Courtney Crumrin, puts a Gothic mystery spin on the school drama genre with his story of a teen witch who risks being unmasked when she helps a friend investigate a series of pranks. Faye dresses like a witch, but people don’t realize she really is one; Cody is a lonely freshman who signs up with an online challenge that turns out to be way more than she bargained for. When Cody reaches out to Faye for help, Faye agrees to take the case, although she’s not entirely confident that her powers are strong enough. The book will be out in paperback and hardcover in August 2021.

Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab: After Nisrin, a 13-year-old Bangladeshi American girl, is attacked in the street because she was wearing native Bangladeshi dress, she decides to wear hijab, something she had previously not done. Her mother and grandparents are against her decision, but Nisrin is determined to follow her own path. The creator of this graphic novel is Bangladeshi American cartoonist Priya Huq. Rated for ages 10 and up, Piece by Piece will be available in hardcover in September 2021.

Amulet also has plans for a paperback release of Fox and Rabbit Make Believe, which was published in hardback last year; the paperback edition is scheduled for August 2021.

Brigid Alverson About Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.

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