In early 2019, DC announced two new imprints that would focus on publishing middle grade and YA graphic novels, respectively: DC Zoom and DC Ink. New stories would be introduced in the lines and some reprints would be issued, as well. The stories would not take place in DC’s main continuity, but instead would focus on introducing readers to some of DC’s characters in teen or tween incarnations. Popular authors such as Shannon Hale, Gene Luen Yang, and Maggie Stiefvater would be writing.
Initially, I paid little attention to this new endeavor. I tend to be more of a Marvel fan, after all. Was I supposed to be excited about Swamp Thing? I don’t even know who that is. However, eventually I began picking up a title or two that seemed interesting. Now, I can’t seem to stop.
In every way, the new DC graphic novels seem calculated to succeed. They have proven the perfect entry point to the DC universe for readers like me–people who want to know more about their superheroes, but who have no background knowledge of them and do not know where to start. The stories are generally self-contained, so they are easy to pick up and start reading without feeling like you need to have read a couple decades’ worth of comics to get yourself oriented first. For the same reason, they are also low commitment: you don’t have to worry about committing yourself to twelve volumes for each of the five new superheroes you discovered and now love. And even when the books are not origin stories, they provide enough information for readers to understand the characters and the world.
The graphic novels have also managed to target a segment of the market that many other titles seem to be leaving out. The middle grade titles, for example, often fit neatly in that space between chapter books and upper middle grade, so they are targeting the fifth and sixth graders who are beyond Magic Tree House but not quite ready for something like Percy Jackson. And the YA titles–hurrah!–are actually often aimed at younger teens–the thirteen and fourteen-year-old readers who have largely been ignored by the YA market for years now. If you are looking for YA books written for teens and not for adults, DC is publishing them.
So far, I have enjoyed every title I have picked up from the DC Zoom and Ink imprints. Consequently, I was dismayed to learn that DC has discontinued the lines, but it looks like they are still committed to publishing graphic novels for middle grade and YA audiences–just with different labels. DC Kids will now mark books marketed towards readers 8-12 while DC books will focus on readers 13+. The DC Black Label will be for readers 17 and up. This is great news. Because, as long as DC keeps putting out this kind of quality content, I will keep reading.