Today, the Beat can exclusively reveal that authors Nadia Shammas and Sara Alfageeh have signed a contract with HarperCollins Children’s Books to create SQUIRE, a graphic novel about a young warrior-in-training set in a Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy world.
This new young adult comic, due to be released in Fall 2021, will tell the tale of Aiza, a 14-year-old, as she trains as a squire with the hope of becoming a knight in the military of the collapsing Bayt-Saji Empire. Shammas will explore themes of identity, war, exploitation, and the dangers of nationalism in what’s described as a mix between Avatar: The Last Airbender, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Mulan.
The early look we got at the graphic novel was quite stunning. Shammas and Alfageeh developed the story together to allow their respective strengths to shine—Alfageeh’s art is spectacular and Squire should be a fantastic way to appreciate her fantastic work and sumptuous use of colors. Shammas’ previous work as a comics writer and editor on anthologies such as Corpus should ensure this title has a focused and clever approach.
The Comics Beat team are not the only ones who are excited to see this graphic novel—nine publishers bid on the rights for the book in a heated auction, which is rare in the world of comics publishing. Ultimately, Andrew Eliopulos, the editor of Noelle Stevenson’s NIMONA, made the winning bid. If the art and early buzz are anything to go by, this is a graphic novel to keep our eyes on.
Here’s how the authors’ agent Charlie Olsen at InkWell Management described the book:
“SQUIRE is a YA graphic novel set in a Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy world about a 14-year-old-girl, Aiza, who lives in an Empire wracked by famine and escalating border wars. Aiza dreams of becoming a knight, the most prestigious rank in the military, and the only way to elevate her status since her people, the Ornu, are second-class citizens in the Bayt-Saji Empire. Hiding her cultural background to train as a squire, she navigates the rigorous training that all knights undergo to test their mettle, making both friends and enemies in the process. However, everything falls apart after her friend gets badly injured during a raid and she uncovers a military conspiracy that threatens to keep the Empire in a state of perpetual war. Aiza will have to decide: turn her back on her morals and heritage, or turn her back on her dream and possibly, her only chance of freedom?”
Squire will be released in the Fall of 2021. The authors are represented for entertainment rights by Brad Petrigala at Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Stay tuned for more exciting previews of Squire in the coming months.
Without further ado, see below for a preview image from SQUIRE and the characters we’ll follow on this journey.
Philippe Leblanc is a Canadian comics journalist. In his regular life, he improves Canadian medical education, and is the co-host of the Ottawa Comic Book Club. He reads alternative, indie and art comics at night and write about them for the Comics Beat.