The Young Adult Graphic Novels From DC Comics At SDCC 2019

by Gary Catig

Young readership is an emerging market with huge potential for publishers. DC Comics attempted to break into this area with their DC Zoom and DC Ink imprints. Though the imprints are no longer around, their titles still remain. At San Diego Comic Con, they held a panel to highlight their current and upcoming titles geared towards teens and young adults. Editor, Michele Wells moderated over guests, Melissa De La Cruz, Sarah Kuhn, Louise Simonson, Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo, Danielle Paige and Michael Moreci. Each panelist was asked a series of icebreaker questions to give an idea of their takes on these popular superheroes then later provided more details of what readers could expect. Below are the highlights from the talk.

Gotham High – Written by Melissa De La Cruz and Illustrated by Thomas Pitilli

(Responses for her Chinese Batman)

First thing to do in the morning: Count his money

Pet Peeves: Rudeness

Food: Soup Dumplings

College Major: Economics

Insecurities: He is a traumatized person with problems expressing his feelings.

De La Cruz was drawn to the title because it provided an opportunity to put her own spin on prominent pop culture characters. She enjoyed sending photos of China Town and various clothing as reference for Pitilli. Instead of being a butler, Alfred is Bruce’s fabulously gay uncle from Hong Kong.

Shadow of the Batgirl – Written by Sarah Kuhn and Illustrated by Nicole Goux

(Responses for Cassandra Cain)

Pet Peeves: People who disobey library rules

Food: Ramen

College Major: Fighting

Insecurities: Feeling helpless and powerless over her life.

Kuhn loved the character from before because there weren’t many Asian superheroes and jumped at the chance to writer her. In the story, she wants to explore how Cassandra is working so hard to be a hero even though she could easily have taken the road to being a villain. She is very impressed with Goux’s ability to draw emotions because there was a challenge of making a comic with someone who doesn’t speak much. The two also played with her costuming because Cassandra is a runaway and didn’t have access to stylish clothes. One character Kuhn knew she had to include was the typical Asian Auntie who serves as a mentor/guardian and makes sure Cassandra is well fed and taken care of.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer – Written by Leigh Bardugo, Adapted by Louise Simonson and Illustrated by Kit Seaton

(Responses for Wonder Woman)

First thing to do in the morning: Puts her feet on the ground

Pet Peeves: Liars

Food: Hummus with olives and pita bread

College Major: Physical Education/Political Science

Insecurities: She’s not good enough to be an Amazon because of her unconventional way she became one.

Simonson found adapting prose into a graphic novel intriguing.

Teen Titans: Raven & Teen Titans: Beast Boy – Written by Kami Garcia and Illustrated by Gabriel Picolo

(Responses for Raven & Beast Boy)

First thing to do in the morning: Beast Boy – Put on his fancy kicks, Raven – Drink coffee

Pet Peeves: Beast Boy – People who hate vegetarian food, Raven – “Mean Girls” types

Food: Beast Boy – Tofu & Broccoli, Raven – Beignets

College Major: Beast Boy – Zoology

Insecurities: Raven – A girl who does not think she is strong and who needs to learn how to become brave

The moment Garcia approached Picolo with clothing ideas for Raven, the two immediately clicked. Both are huge fans of the Teen Titans and share a love for fashion design. It is important because they feel the outward appearance reflects a character’s personality. To take the costuming to another level, Picolo took pleasure in designing different shoes for all the characters.

Mera: Tidebreaker – Written by Danielle Paige and Illustrated by Stephen Byrne

Danielle Paige Mera: Tidebreaker Stephen Byrne

(Responses for Mera)

First thing to do in morning: Grab her trident

Pet Peeves: Pollution

Food: Sushi

College Major: Marine Biology

Insecurities: All her life her parents told her what is right but she needs the confidence to make different choices.

Lost Carnival: A Grayson Tale – Written by Michael Moreci and Illustrated by Sas Milledge

(Responses for Dick Grayson)

First thing to do in the morning: Look in a mirror

Food: Funnel Cake

College Major: Musical Theater

Insecurities: He has spent his life working for the group while he’s been dragged around with all the carnies so he needs to forge his own identity.

Moreci is the only one to have written his character in the DC Universe so he saw an opportunity to reverse engineer Dick and see how he was shaped into the adult he is now. The writer also likes how Dick is a young brash kid but is always well intentioned.

Finally, the panelists were asked what character they would like to work with next. Moreci would write a father/son tale featuring Darkseid and Orion. Paige would be interested in developing a Lex Luthor or Batman story while Kuhn would want to tackle Louis Lane because of her journalism background. Piccolo and Garcia would want to continue making stories for each member of the Teen Titans. De La Cruz always pictured her graphic novel as a trilogy. Catwoman took over the first book and she would focus on the Joker and Harley Quinn on the next one. Simonson already knows her next project as she will be adapting Catwoman: Soulstealer into a graphic novel.

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