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We Won’t Mention The Bit Where I Had To Ride The Subway Back To The Party Because I Left My Notebook Behind

I’ll leave it to the boss herself:

It turns out that sometimes if you and @ppcrotty, @WhitLeopard, @RoxieReads, and @jhautsethi work very hard, people bring you cake. Who knew?!

That from Gina Gagliano, head of Random House Graphic, at the party thrown to celebrate the first releases from the imprint, and a debut year that will see twelve graphic novels for kids released¹. She and her stalwart staff² — senior editor Whitney Leopard, designer Patrick Crotty, and publicist/marketer Nicole Valdez — talked about the books out now (and coming soon) that they really want you to know about. And since I accepted a piece of their cake, I feel like I should hold up my end of the bargain.

  • Gagliano’s choice for favorite upcoming book is Witchlight by Jessi Zbarsky, which she described as a girl with swords meets a girl that does magic, they have adventures and fall in love and in the middle there’s food which is just … I’m in. Look for it on 14 April.
  • Leopard wants you to read The Runaway Princess (out for the past three week) by Johan Troïowski, because it’s got an interactive element in each chapter, as the reader is asked to do or achieve something, and also Stepping Stones (due 5 May), the first kids book by Lucy Knisley, who is the best.
  • Crotty, coming from a background of indie comics, particularly wants you to read Bug Boys (released three days ago) by Laura Knetzger, noting how many of the great comics we’re getting these days wouldn’t exist without the indie creators doing 8 to 12 page minis, never anticipating they’ll be collected in a print volume. The Bug Boys are for kids but have a Charlie Brownesque philosophical side, and Knetzger keeps cranking out the minis, so it won’t be long before the second collection arrives.
  • Valdez allowed that there was some disagreement over who would get to talk about Bug Boys, but was enthused to talk instead about Aster And The Accidental Magic (coming in two and a half weeks) by Thom Pico and Karensac. This girl is me is the message she wanted to convey, an idea that underlies RHG’s mission — to put a graphic novel in the hands of every kid in America³.

They’re on their way. Gagliano talked about how she started in the industry fifteen years ago, how comics were regarded with suspicion but now schools and libraries are their biggest champions. There’s a lot of hands out there that still haven’t gotten comics, and lot of minds that still have to develop that higher level of reading, and she and her team are going to do their level best to fix that.

And yes, publishing is a very Manhattan-centric business, but the crowd was overflowing the aisles at Books Of Wonder, and not just because of the cake. There were younger folk there, mid-20s a lot of them, ready to answer that call and pitch their ideas and end up on some of those shelves. Here’s to finding out what makes it there in the coming years.

Spam of the day:

Your regular glasses can get lost, break or your prescription can change over time, resulting in expensive trips to the optometrist!

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 19, and in the 30+ years since, I have lost exactly one pair (sunglasses, on my way home from Tom Spurgeon’s memorial), broken none, and yes, my prescription has changed because my eyeballs have changed. This is the definition of a straw man you’re propping up here.

¹ Out of a total twenty four for Random House Children’s Books. No pressure, just got to make up half the output for one of the most storied publishing imprints in history in your first year, that’s all.

² Random House associate publisher Judith Haut, while not part of Gagliano’s staff, is the one that decided that there needed to be a RHG and found the right person for the job.

³ Quoting Gagliano, and echoing their tagline, A graphic novel on every bookshelf. Whoever that kid is, wherever that shelf is, Leopard told us back in July, they will have at least one title that makes that kid say This is the book I was waiting for.

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