A handful of critically-acclaimed creators previewed some of their works in progress while reflecting on industry changes on Wednesday’s New Kids Comics from Eisner Award Publishers Panel. On hand to discuss their projects were Faith Erin Hicks (One Year At Ellsmere), Jerry Craft (New Kid), Jonathan Hill (Odessa), Robin Ha (All American Girl), and Derick Brooks (Bright Family series), with Los Angeles Public Library’s Candice Wing-Yee Mack moderating. 

They discussed how they mine personal experience to create their characters. Subjects they have written about include divorce and sibling relationships (Hill), being the smallest and youngest kid on the block (Craft), memories of thumb wrestling with a favorite cousin (Brooks), acclimating to life as an immigrant (Ha), or sharing a love of horses (Hicks). The driving force behind most of these stories is the search for identity, for belonging and the need to see their perspectives reflected on the printed page. They all acknowledged the pivotal role that Raina Telgemeier’s Smile played in helping these slice-of-life stories reach a broader audience. 

So what would their ideal goal be in terms of what they’d like to see in comics? Craft summarizes it best with:

“By not pigeonholing the books. I would love to a librarian to see white boy from Minnesota and give him Robin’s book to read. That’s how you learn, and that’s how you get empathy.”

And now without further ado, here are the projects that are currently occupying the creators on this panel:

  • Brooks is completing the fourth book of his Bright Family series and preparing for another round of issues next year.
  • Craft is awaiting the October release of Class Act, the follow-up to the Newberry Award-winning New Kid.
  • Hill’s Odessa will hit stores in November. Meanwhile, he is busy at work writing True Tales of a Seventh Grade Lizard Boy.
  • Hicks is working on a yet-untitled work about girls and horses. The reprinted One Year At Ellsmere was just released by First Second Books.
  • Ha is hard at work writing a new untitled YA fantasy set in sixteenth century Korea.

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