By Aaron Halls
10 years ago Avatar Aang defeated the Fire Lord in the epic series finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, closing the chapter on a beloved cartoon for fans of all ages. Since then the Avatar universe has not only expanded in the form of a sequel cartoon series, Avatar: The Legend of Korra, but also with a series of graphic novels from Dark Horse Comics.
On Thursday, fans crowded a Javits Center NYCC room to hear all about what adventures they could expect next from the Avatar world; in a panel titled “The Cycle Begins Anew: Exploring The Comic Elements of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra”. moderated by Dustin Nelson, fans were able to hear from Peter Wartman and Sara Goetter — two talented creatives working on the publisher’s next graphic novel books in the series.
Wartman is doing the artwork for Avatar: The Last Airbender – Imbalance, a three part story arc featuring Aang and the Team Avatar gang with Faith Erin Hicks writing; Part One will be released on December 18, 2018, with Part Two having a scheduled release date for April 16, 2019; Part Three is to be announced.
In discussing his work prior to working on Avatar: The Last Airbender-Imbalance and how he came to work on the project, Wartman mentioned he was working on a web comic called Stonebreaker. “It was the kind of comic that a lot of people picked up and said, ‘Hey this reminds me of Avatar!’ So there was probably something to that,” Wartman said. “I think Faith saw that and think she liked it, and I think that’s how everything came together.”
Goetter is doing the artwork and writing on a 12 page issue as a part of a short stories anthology titled Team Avatar Tales to be released on March 6, 2018. Like Wartman, prior to working on Avatar she worked on a web comic series, called Boozle. She also did a mini-comic series called Dungeon Critters. Her comic issue focuses on The Boulder, a muscular professional earthbending wrestler, and his love for his crococat appropriately named The Pebble.
Nelson asked how the two were able to bring their original unique art styles to an already established world. Wartman said he really wanted to push the architecture a lot more and try to think about space as the original cartoon series had amazing locations and environments.
Nelson also mentioned that for more of the ongoing series, like Avatar: The Last Airbender–Imbalance, Dark Horse Comics wanted to keep the artwork more in line with what the original show looked like. However, with Team Avatar Tales the creatives were allowed more freedom due to the one-off story nature.
Goetter wasn’t sure if she’d get some of her ideas approved for her story. “My stuff is very exaggerated, cartoony, and goofy,” she said. “I kept thinking they wouldn’t let me and then they did — there’s a line where The Boulder says ‘I’m allergic to emotions!”
The continuing adventures of Aang weren’t the only Avatar stories teased from Dark Horse Comics, but also a new graphic novel series focusing on Aang’s successor Avatar Korra. Korra’s newest arc will be told in three parts and is titled Ruins of the Empire; it’s scheduled for release on May 21, 2019.
The Beat Staff is an elite group of trained ninjas.