The three stalwarts of kids’ graphic novels are zany action stories, fantasy adventures, and middle-school drama, and like all comics, sometimes they cross over, as in Tales of a Seventh-Grade Lizard Boy. This year, publishers are offering plenty of choices in all three genres, as well as some that are a little outside the box. Here’s a look at some upcoming graphic novels coming out this year, both new titles and new volumes in some of the most popular series. 

Bunnicula: The Graphic Novel, by James Howe and Andrew Donkin (writers) and Stephen Gilpin (artist): The 1980s classic is back in graphic novel form. Harold the dog and Chester the cat suspect that the newest pet in the family, a rabbit of mysterious origins and strange nocturnal habits, is a vampire (he does have tiny fangs). They go to great lengths to investigate their new companion, with hilarious consequences. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, August, Ages 8-12; MSRP: $19.99 hardcover/$12.99 paperback)

The Cosmic Adventures of Astrid and Stella, by Hello!Lucky: Hello!Lucky is a design studio that makes greeting cards, stationery, and other items, all with a lighthearted, super-cute style, and they bring that sensibility to this graphic novel. Astrid and Stella are two friends who bop around the universe with their robot Bobo, visiting planets, fixing snacks, and taking dance breaks everywhere they go. Their mottos: “We can do hard things!” and “Progress not perfection!” (Amulet, September, Ages 6-9; MSRP: $12.99 hardcover)

The Cryptid Club #1: Bigfoot Takes the Field, by Michael Brumm (writer) and Jeff Mack (artist): Lily wants to get a big scoop for the school paper, so when her little brother Henry hears a rumor that someone saw Bigfoot around their school, she’s on the case. Once she finds the cryptid, though, she and Henry have to figure out what to do with him and how to help him get something he needs, all with the little kid they are babysitting in tow. This is the first book in a planned four-volume series that’s in the same zany action/humor vein as Dog Man and InvestiGators.(HarperAlley, June, Ages 6-10; MSRP: $16.99 hardcover/$8.99 paperback)

Deadman Tells the Spooky Tales, by Franco Aureliani (writer) and Andy Price (artist): Deadman may not seem like the most likely headliner for a middle-grade graphic novel, but he is the perfect host for this collection of 13 spooky stories, because he’s already a ghost. Writer Franco Aureliani is half of the creative team behind Tiny Titans, Superman of Smallville, and Arkhamaniacs, so he has plenty of experience creating kid-friendly versions of DC characters (and two Eisner Awards to show for it). (DC, September, Ages 8-12; MSRP: $9.99 paperback)

Expedition Backyard: Exploring Nature from Country to City, by Rosemary Mosco (writer) and Binglin Hu (artist): A mole and a vole explore their own backyard and then take an accidental trip to the city, where they meet new animals, observe new plants, and write everything down in their nature journal. The lighthearted story of two friends blends seamlessly with real information about the world around them, and the story is divided into short chapters so younger readers can easily pick it up and put it down. (Random House Graphic, June, Ages 4-8; MSRP: $12.99 hardcover) 

How to Read Comics the Marvel Way, by Various: Spider-Man, trapped in a comic book by Mysterio, leads the reader on a tour of the language of comics, including panels, gutters, word balloons, the process of creating comics, and much more. Readers can put their newfound skills to work on several actual comics as well. This 6” x 9”, 176-page graphic novel includes How to Read Comics the Marvel Way #1-4, Ms. Marvel (2014) #1, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 and Spidey #1. (Marvel, September, Ages 9 and up; MSRP: $13.99 paperback)

Marvel-Verse: Ms. Marvel, by Various: Marvel has been repackaging its more young-reader-friendly comics in collected editions in the 6” x 9” format that has become pretty standard for middle-grade books. This one is a collection of standalone Ms. Marvel stories, including Ms. Marvel (2014) #12, Generations: Ms. Marvel & Ms. Marvel, Ms. Marvel (2015) #38, and Miles Morales: Spider-Man #24. (Marvel, August, Ages 10-14; MSRP: $9.99 paperback)

Order of the Night Jay, by Jonathan Schnapp: Frank, a gentle bear who worries a lot, is having a tough time at camp, between the bugs and the other campers. He and his roommate, a raccoon named Ricky, bond over their shared love of comics, but Ricky is a bit over the top at times. When Frank discovers a mystery, he has to set aside those issues, break some rules, and uncover some ancient secrets in order to save the day. This is the first book in a series. (Top Shelf, July, Ages 8-12; MSRP: $14.99 paperback)

Prunella and the Cursed Skull Ring, by Matthew Loux: The people in Prunella’s village live in fear of the monsters that roam outside the gates. When Prunella finds a skull-shaped ring in her garden and puts it on, she turns into a living skeleton. Horrified, the villagers banish her to the wilderness, but when she gets there, she learns that the monsters aren’t so bad, and she even befriends two of them, an undead pirate and a flaming skull. Together they look for a way to bring Prunella back to normal, but now that she knows what she knows, she’s not so sure she wants to go back. Loux is the creator of The Time Museum, Sidescrollers, and Salt Water Taffy. (First Second, October, Ages 6-10; MSRP $18.99 hardcover)

Star Knights, by Kay Davault: A simple frog dreams of becoming a knight, and he gets his wish with plenty of adventures to boot in this magical-quest story that mixes adventures, cute characters, and plenty of humor. Davault is also the creator of the Webtoon Oddity Woods, which had 23,000 followers on Webtoon and will be published in print in 2024. (Random House Graphic, July, Ages 8-12; MSRP: $20.99 hardcover/$12.99 paperback)

Tales of a Seventh-Grade Lizard Boy, by Jonathan Hill: Middle-school drama meets weird science fiction in this story about a lizard who has to leave his home beneath the Earth’s crust and try to live as a human. Tommy Tompkins struggles with fitting in, and the school bullies pick on him, but he does have one friend, Dung Tran a Vietnamese immigrant who gets what it’s like to be an outsider. But in a society where lizards are the supervillains in a hot TV show, Tommy’s not sure his friend will stick with him if he learns the truth. (Walker Books, September, Ages 8-12; MSRP: $24.99 hardcover/$14.99 paperback)

Series Updates

The Baby-Sitters Club: All three of the Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels that were published in 2021 made the BookScan full-year Top 20 (see “Full Year 2021 NPD BookScan – Top 20 Kids GNs”). This year’s first title, Vol. 11, Good-bye Stacey, Good-bye, came out on February 1 and placed second in the BookScan Top 20 in February and March, so that streak may continue. Next up is Vol. 12, Jesse’s Secret Language, in which the babysitters learn sign language because one of their customers has a Deaf child. That’s due out on September 6. Vol. 13, Mary Anne’s Bad Luck Mystery, will hit the shelves on December 27. (Graphix, Ages 8-12; MSRP $24.99 hardcover/$12.99 paperback). What about their little sister? The most recent Baby-Sitters Little Sister graphic novel was Vol. 5, Karen’s School Picture, which came out in February, like its older sibling, and made both the February and March BookScan Top 20 charts. Vol. 6, Karen’s Birthday, won’t be out until January 3, 2023 (Graphix, Ages 7-10; MSRP: $11.99 paperback)

Cat Kid Comic Club #4, by Dav Pilkey: No subtitle yet, but the fourth of Pilkey’s cheery graphic novels about creativity and storytelling will be out on November 29. (Graphix, Ages 7 and up; MSRP: $12.99 hardcover). Also out that day, Cat Kid Comic Club: The Trio Collection, a boxed set of the first three books. (Graphix, Ages 7 and up, MSRP: $38.87)

Crunch, by Kayla Miller: Miller’s art is simple, but she has a real knack for capturing the nuances of middle-schoolers, and her heroine, Olive Branche, deals with relatable problems in a relatable way. That combination served her well in her previous books, Click, Camp, Act, and Clash. In Crunch, Olive’s problem is that she has more projects than she has time for, and she has to learn how to balance her schedule as well as when to ask for help. (Clarion Books, August, Ages 8-12; MSRP: $24.99 hardcover/$13.99 paperback)

InvestiGators: Heist and Seek: John Patrick Green’s wacky secret agent reptiles have struck a chord with young readers; this sixth volume is slated for September 27 (First Second, Ages 7-10; MSRP: $10.99 hardcover). And watch out for a new spinoff, InvestiGators: Agents of S.U.I.T., launching early next year. 

Enemies, by Svetlana Chmakova: Felicity dreams big but doesn’t always follow through. Her oh-so-perfect sister Letty teases her about it, so Felicity joins a contest to prove her wrong, but that just makes the whole situation worse. Chmakova has created a huge, diverse, and likeable cast for these stories, and while each book focuses on a different group of characters, the others make appearances as well. (JY, September, Ages 10 and up; MSRP: $25.00 hardcover/$13.00 paperback)

Lowriders to the Rescue, by Cathy Camper (writer) and Raul Gonzalez III (artist): An impala, an octopus, and a mosquito are brought together by their love of low riders in this cheeky, charming series in which the lead characters are all Latinx and mix Spanish words (translated in the margin) into their conversations. In this book, they have to head off gentrification in their town and rescue a flock of monarch butterflies whose habitat is threatened by a wildfire. Gonzalez’s retro-flavored artwork may be a draw for adults as much as kids. (Chronicle Books, May, Ages 9-12; MSRP: $22.99 hardcover/$12.99 paperback)

Wings of Fire: The fifth volume of this adaptation of Tui T. Sutherland’s fantasy novels came out in March, and all five volumes made the chart (see “March 2022 NPD BookScan – Top 20 Kids GNs”). The sixth, Wings of Fire: Moon Rising,is scheduled for December 27. (Graphix, Ages 8-12; MSRP: $24.99 hardcover/$12.99 paperback)

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