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News: Scholastic Announces Comics Line to Kick Off with Bone
posted July 6, 2004
 

July 6 -- In suddenly breaking news released through Calvin Reid at Publishers Weekly, Scholastic Books announced its Graphix graphic novel imprint, to debut in January 2005.

The publisher of the Harry Potter books and over seven hundred other titles in a calendar year will launch their new imprint with six color collections of Jeff Smith's just-concluded fantasy series Bone. The books will be printed in the popular "manga" format, six inches by nine inches, will be priced at an affordable $10, and will arrive every six months. According to Jeff Smith, Steve Hamaker will handle the color in-house at Smith's Cartoon Books. Hamaker currently works for Smith on his color projects. "I was resistant to color for a long time," Smith told the Journal. When Disney Adventures Digest serialized Bone for a couple of years, they did it in color -- and it was competent color. But I didn't feel color was where it was at." According to Smith, the move to color is "actually Art Spiegelman's fault. He really insisted it get into color. He and Francoise [Mouly] were talking to Scholastic and pulling together a children's line and pushing for Bone to be a part of it. Last year at MoCCA [Festival], Art cornered me and said 'You have to talk to them and you have to do it in color.' Basically, he convinced me. He's Art Spiegelman. I suddenly got very excited."

Smith said that Scholastic designed the trade dress for the series although he did a new cover for the first volume. He has been consulted in the series' general design. "I told them I would like it to be presented more like a book -- table of contents, chapter headings, things like that." Asked if Scholastic had any objects to the story's content considering their target audience of children, Smith laughed, "They did bring up the fact they hang out in a bar a lot. Vijaya [Iyer, Cartoon Books President] asked me if they turned the page and saw all the bookmaking." But no changes are forthcoming. "I didn't want to make any changes in the book. It's been endorsed by every library association, I've received letters from parents; there's never been a whisper of complaint. This will be the story as printed." Smith believes he won't succumb to the pressure to tweak the story as he has with every subsequent printing in black and white. "I just got done with the 1300 page book [a one-volume edition of the entire saga under one cover] which is my ultimate black and white edition. I smoothed some continuity errors in there."

With the Scholastic deal in place Smith announced that Cartoon Books, one of the biggest players in the history of self-published comics, will stop publishing Bone in December 2004. "Vijaya and I are going to keep Cartoon Books, though. We plan on doing this series I have planned, Big Big, through Cartoon Books, hopefully in 2006."

Scholastic Editor in Chief Jean Feiwel negotiated the deal with Cartoon Books and will oversee the Graphix imprint. The imprint plans to do original titles, reprints and acquired imports, all aimed at the ages six to fourteen. Scholastic plans a six-figure marketing campaign in addition to its usual skill in placing material with booksellers and libraries. The publisher plans a formal announcement and kick-off to that campaign at the 2004 Comic-Con International in San Diego, which Smith and Iyer plan to attend.

Future series from Graphix announced thus far are Queen Bee, by Chynna Clugston-Major, and an adaptation of the Baby-Sitters Club series by cartoonist Raina Telgemeier.