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Random House Previews Graphic Novel Plans

The upcoming young reader imprint got the spotlight at New York Comic Con.
Random House Graphic
The upcoming young reader imprint got the spotlight at New York Comic Con.

The announcement in 2018 of Random House Graphic, a dedicated children’s graphic novel imprint from one of the largest publishers in the world, was met with great excitement from the comic book world. During a panel at the New York Public Library on Thursday as part of New York Comic Con, RHG publishing director Gina Gagliano and her team offered a first look at what the imprint is all about, ahead of its 2020 launch.

Gagliano opened the panel by talking about her decade-plus experience at Macmillan’s First Second Books. “Working there, I really got to see the potential of graphic novels and the potential of the industry, the power that this combination of words and images really has in getting people to be interested in libraries, bookstores; really, in reading,” she explained. Her involvement with Random House Graphic began when she was approached by the head of Penguin Random House Children’s Books and asked, essentially, to explain comics.

That conversation led to the creation of Random House Graphic, an imprint aimed at readers aged five to late teens (although, as publicity and marketing director Nicole Valdez pointed out, “I’d say you could be 30 and read any of these, that’s not an issue”) with the ambition — and corporate motto — “a graphic novel on every bookshelf.” As Gagliano explained, “that’s the reality of reading that we want to see in America right now: think of [comics] as an organic part of how to read. That’s something that’s still growing, that awareness and acceptance of graphic novels.”

Central to that goal are schools and libraries, both Gagliano and senior editor Whitney Leopard argued. “What we look at, as one of the first steps of integrating graphic novels into our visual literacy is schools and libraries really getting behind these books, to have them in the reading spaces that [kids] are in already,” Gagliano said. Valdez added that Random House has a team already dedicated to outreach specifically to these markets.

As the panel discussed the four titles that make up its initial slate of releasesAster and the Accidental Magic by Thom Pico and Karensac; The Runaway Princess by Johan Troïanowski; Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky; and Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger — the panel talked about plans for the imprint moving forward.

“As we put more books out, you’ll see lots of different styles, there are so many creators, so many styles, that we want readers to take advantage of all the different experiences,” Leopard said. “We want to have a list that’s got differences and have something for everyone each season.” The plan is to publish a book a month in 2020, and then grow from there, she revealed. “Our first year we’re going to have 12 books, the year after that, 18, and the year after that, we’re hoping for above 20. It’s a lofty goal, to have a graphic novel on every bookshelf.”

“At Random House, we have a very broad mission. The breadth of what we’re doing is what separates us [from other publishers],” Gagliano said when asked what differentiates RHG from other publishers of young reader material. “Whether it’s for your kid who really likes sharks, or likes fantasy adventure, we’ll have something for them.”

Random House Graphic launches Jan. 21, 2020 with the debut of The Runaway Princess.

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