A couple of years ago I wrote about Kean Soo’s Jellaby going out of print from Hyperion, despite a second volume still being available. It was emblematic of what happened to many of the cartoonists signed up by big book houses in the early days of the graphic novel gold rush: the books were misunderstood, the P&L was all on the losing side, and books got dropped and ignored left and right.
Soo wasn’t the only cartoonist caught up in the game of misplaced hopes. Jill Thompson’s brilliant Magic Trixie was totally ignored when it came out from HarperCollins, and Hope Larson’s books have taken their lumps as well.
Well, here’s some good news for Jellaby, Soo’s charming fantasy comic about a young girl who befriends a monster who lives behind her house. Capstone for Young readers is picking it up and releasing it in early 2014. The new edition will have a new cover and a forward by Kazu Kibuishi, who originally published Jellaby in the pages of Flight.
What’s changed since 2010? For one thing, publishers understand graphic novels a lot better now. Capstone has been publishing kids GNs for a long time, mostly in the licensed arena, but they know what sales goals are realistic and understand the unique nature of selling GNs. Also, there have been enough sales successes—Smile, Kibuishi’s Amulet, Avatar and so on—that kids comics are much better understood in bookstores and the educational and library markets. A great kids book is a perennial that sells and sells and sells and what publisher wouldn’t want to make money without doing any work. We’ve come a long way since Persepolis put graphic novels on the minds of publishing houses everywhere, and it’s encouraging that Jellaby can be brought back under the right circumstances.
And to any publishers reading this, Magic Trixie is just sitting there waiting to be repackaged, too, hint, hint, hint.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.