8 Teen-Friendly Webcomics Coming to Print This Year

Here’s a sneak peek at some webcomics that will be traditionally published soon, along with others that are worth keeping an eye on.
The webcomics medium continues to be a rich mine of material for traditional publishers, and this year they have picked up two of the most popular: Andrew Hussie’s Homestuck and Ngozi Ukazu’s Check Please! both of which were previously self-published and were supported by highly successful Kickstarter campaigns. These books come to the publisher with a built-in audience, and traditional publishing allows the creator to extend their reach to new audiences, too. That said, the experience of reading webcomics is very different from a graphic novel. Most webcomics are written to be read over a period of time, not all at once, so they move at a leisurely pace, bringing readers into the world of the protagonist with plenty of world-building and vignettes of everyday life. Some are quite long—On a Sunbeam is more than 500 pages, and most of the others are multivolume works. Finally, there is the format itself: webcomics allow creators to lay out their story in a long vertical scroll (Space Boy) or use motion and sound (Homestuck), so the print version may be more limited. However, the current trend seems to be to keep the webcomic online even after it is published in print, so readers will be able to experience the story in both formats. Here’s a look at some of the webcomics that will be coming out in print this year, along with others that are worth keeping an eye on. As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman. Iron Circus. Nov. 2017. ISBN 9781945820069. Gr 6 Up–Okay, technically this came out last year, but As the Crow Flies is too good not to mention. Pencil drawn with unusual colors, it’s a story about a queer girl of color who feels totally out of place at her all-white Christian summer camp. As she and her fellow campers make a backpacking trip up a mountain for a special women’s ceremony, she makes connections with some of her companions and chafes at the thoughtlessness of others. The narrative is engaging and offers much food for thought as well. It received an SLJ starred review and was recently recognized with the Stonewall Award Honor at the 2018 Youth Media Awards. Here’s SLJ’s interview with Gillman. Check Please!: Hockey  by Ngozi Ukazu. First Second. Sept. 2018. ISBN 9781250177957. Gr 9 Up–When Eric “Bitty” Bittle travels from his Georgia home to a Massachusetts college and switches from figure skating to the hockey team, he has a lot of new experiences—making friends on the team, coming out as gay, and dealing with the trauma of being checked (in the hockey sense of the term), which causes him to freeze up like a deer in the headlights. Much of the story is told in the first person as Eric updates his video blog with stories of his experiences. Homestuck by Andrew Hussie. Viz Media. Apr. 2018. ISBN 9781421599403. Gr 9 UpHomestuck seems like the sort of comic that could only be found on the web. A complicated fantasy tale with multiple characters and all sorts of side plots, it uses limited animation, crude computer art, and a gamelike interface. (It was also, a few years ago, one of the most popular comics on the web, and Homestuck cosplayers were ubiquitous at comic and anime cons.) The manga publisher Viz has risen to the challenge and is publishing it as several fat hardcover volumes, each of which encompasses several parts of the story—and offers a slightly less chaotic experience for readers who may have been put off by the original. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: Little Women by Rey Terciero and Bre Indigo. Gr 7 Up–This modern-day adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s 150-year-old classic novel centers on the multi-racial March family who live in a Brooklyn brownstone. Their father is away at war, and their mother is working double shifts to make ends meet. The creators put a modern spin on the original story—Jo is teased for being queer, not being a tomboy, Beth struggles with her health and plays the guitar, and the girls must deal with racism as well as economic issues—but the underlying themes will remain the same. The print version will be published by Little, Brown in November 2018.   On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. First Second. Oct. 2018. ISBN 9781250178138. Gr 7 Up–Walden, whose memoir Spinning was published by First Second last year, turns her hand to science fiction in a story that is set in two time lines—the heroine’s boarding school years and her time working with a construction crew that travels around the universe rehabbing ancient properties. At school, Mia gradually falls in love with a fellow student, and in the later time line, she and her coworkers travel to the wildest spot in the known universe so they can be reunited. Walden creates a universe filled with elaborate structures and flowing landscapes, and she uses a limited palette to help readers keep track of space and time. This story has an all-female cast, with the exception of one character who is non-binary. The characters have a range of strong personalities, and this is as much a story of friendship as it is of romance and adventure. Space Boy by Stephen McCranie. Dark Horse. July 2018. ISBN 9781506706481. Gr 7 Up–Amy and her family move from the space colony, where she grew up, to an Earth she has never seen. She also goes out of sync with her best friend—who is cryogenically frozen for the 30-year journey. Amy quickly makes friends in her new high school, but much of their world is unfamiliar to her, and she keeps encountering this strange white-haired boy who carries with him a profound sense of loneliness. This story moves at a leisurely pace, immersing teens in Amy’s world, and McCranie has a deft, slightly retro style. It’s worth checking out the online version. He makes good use of the vertical scrolling format of the Line Webtoon site to create transitions as well as a sense of the vastness of space. Strong Female Protagonist. Vol. 2 by Brennan Lee Mulligan & Molly Ostertag. Top Shelf. June 2018. ISBN 9781506706481. Gr 10 Up–Ostertag is the creator of Witch Boy (Scholastic, 2017) and the artist for Shattered Warrior (First Second, 2017), so she’s been busy. Strong Female Protagonist centers on a former superhero who has put that life behind her to attend college—but keeps getting entangled in superhero-ish adventures. The first volume was published in 2014. The Wormworld Saga. Vol. 1: The Journey Begins by Daniel Lieske. Lion Forge. May 2018. ISBN 9781941302712. Gr 4-7–This beautifully painted fantasy adventure about a boy who travels to a strange world—and his journey back home again—is worth visiting on the original site because it uses the vertical scroll format to good effect—and because it is available in multiple languages through official and fan translations. Here are some webcomics to keep an eye on. Perhaps they'll be the next ones to be published traditionally: Eighty Days by Blueludebar/A. C. Esguerra Told for the most part in the terse style of an aviator’s log, Eighty Days is a comic about flying and freedom, set in an alternative version of the 1930s where the central aviation authority controls just about everything. The first book follows a pilot and a talented navigator (and thief) as they skirt the authoritarian regime—and their relationship slowly shifts from suspicion to friendship to something more. The black-and-white artwork is astounding, with figures drawn in a manga-based style and beautifully flowing backgrounds of clouds, planes, and landscape. This is the first installment of a longer story, and it won a PRISM Comics Queer Press Grant in 2016. Genderqueer by Maia Kobabe Kobabe’s short (one to three panels) cartoons build up to a portrait of life as an asexual, genderqueer person. Kobabe, who prefers the gender-neutral pronouns e/em/eir, covers the everyday details (such as choosing clothing) and the bigger questions of a life that may not fit the usual assumptions of others. (There is some frank discussion of sexual matters but no explicit images.) Kobabe recently announced that Genderqueer will be published as a graphic novel by Lion Forge in 2019. Lauren Purje’s short comics Purje draws short comics about creativity, inspiration, and the life of a freelance artist. Top Shelf published a collection of her comics last year—You Might Be an Artist If…—but she continues to post new material online. Reported Missing: A True Story of Family and Murder by Eleri Harris A seven-part comic tells the true story of Susan Neill-Fraser, who is serving 23 years in an Australian prison for the murder of her partner, Bob Chappell. Harris presents the story as told by Neill-Fraser’s daughter Sarah, and the light, colorful style of the art takes some of the darkness out of the story. The Sublimes by Kiku Hughes This is a sci-fi tale set in a mining town where the miners delve deep into an ancient machine, looking for valuable parts and alloys to melt down. Meanwhile, three sisters live on the outskirts of the town and of the economy, scavenging inside the mine. This story is currently on hiatus, as Hughes is working on her graphic novel Displacement, which will be published by First Second in 2019, but she says she intends to return to the webcomic and complete the narrative.
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marjorie

Dang, I put a library hold on As the Crow Flies so fast I think I sprained something. Thanks for this great list of titles (and webcomics) to watch for!

Posted : Mar 14, 2018 07:46


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