When we talk about comics for kids, we’re usually talking about graphic novels, but single-issue comics for middle-grade readers have not gone the way of the newsstand. On the contrary, publishers are still putting them out, and kids are still reading them. In fact, IDW Publishing editor-in-chief John Barber told ICv2 that one of IDW’s four top-selling comics of all time was an issue of Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures,
and he mentioned their Marvel Action
titles (featuring various Marvel heroes) and Sonic the Hedgehog
comics as two other strong sellers.
In addition, the My Little Pony
comics will likely get a boost in the fall when a new CG-animated movie, originally intended for theatrical release, will drop on Netflix (see "’My Little Pony’ Goes to Netflix
"), to be followed by an animated series, according to Entertainment Tonight
Barber said IDW decides whether to handle properties as comics as opposed to graphic novels on a case-by-case basis. "There’s a bit of alchemy to it," he said. "Certainly there are some things that work better as graphic novels, but with some of the historical comic book characters, there’s something fun about being able to pick up those adventures on a regular basis instead of waiting a year between stories.
Some of IDW’s kids’ comics are self-contained, while others have continuing stories. Their Star Wars Adventures
comics, for instance, each contain one complete story and one part of a two-part story. "I think there’s something inherent to the Marvel characters that the serialization makes sense,” said Barber, whereas with Star Wars
we get to bounce around in different [periods of the movie series]." The Star Wars High Republic Adventures
comics are a serialized story, but, Barber said, "We are always conscious that when you are putting out an individual issue for a kid, you want to have a satisfying story where you understand what is going on and you want to find out more."
So what’s out there? Here’s a look at some current and upcoming series that are suitable for middle-grade readers.
the great-granddaddy of this category, continues to publish monthly comics with new material in the traditional style. The reboot from a couple of years ago is over, and the horror series have wrapped up, but they publish new issues of Archie
and Betty & Veronica,
along with an assortment of digests and collections. Rob Liefeld’s reboot of the Mighty Crusaders superhero team will launch in June with the one-shot The Shield
(see "Rob Liefeld to Helm Archie’s ‘Mighty Crusaders’
just wrapped up the four-issue series Byte-Sized,
by Cullen Bunn and Nelson Blake; the trade will be out on May 19.
by James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas, which was originally planned as a graphic novel trilogy (see "New Tynion IV Series Getting Surprise Comic Release
#8 is in this month’s Previews
, as is the first issue of the new Mouse Guard
series, Mouse Guard Owlhen
Caregiver. Christine Larsen’s Orcs!
series is rated for ages 9 and up; the series is ongoing, and the first trade will go on sale in November. Jim Henson’s Storyteller,
which BOOM! releases as themed four-issue miniseries, is also kid-friendly.
and Looney Tunes
comics in alternate months.
as noted above, publishes Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures, Sonic the Hedgehog,
and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
(issue #100 is in this month’s Previews
), as well as several Marvel Action
series featuring Spider-Man (an elementary school-aged Peter Parker), Captain Marvel (the adult Carol Danvers) and the Avengers. They recently wrapped up Marvel Action Chillers,
featuring Doctor Strange and Ironheart (see "‘Marvel Action Chillers’ Coming from IDW in October
"), and the collected edition is in this month’s Previews
is currently publishing Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters,
by Chris and Laura Samnee, a fantasy series about two sisters living in an inhospitable, monster-infested world (see "‘Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters’
published the first titles from its kids’ imprint, Scoot, in January 2021 (see "Scout Comic & Entertainment, Inc. Will Launch Scoot!
"). They will launch two fantasy-adventure series in the next two months: The Misadventurers
in May and Claire and the Dragons
in June, and in July they will publish the standalone comic Stanley the Snowman
for more articles on kids comics and graphic novels, for ICv2 Kids Week!