Why I Love DC’s New Middle Grade and YA Graphic Novels

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.

10 thoughts on “Why I Love DC’s New Middle Grade and YA Graphic Novels

  1. Samantha D. says:

    I’m so sad to hear they are discontinuing the imprints! I do hope that the quality of the books doesn’t suffer under the new marketing/name.
    I agree with Marley though, Raven was AWESOME. I can’t wait for the rest of the teen titans 🙂

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    • Krysta says:

      I don’t really understand the discontinuation since it seems like they are publishing the same books, anyway. I read something about bringing them all together for marketing reasons. But I’m pretty sure the general public neither knows nor cares about imprints in general.

      Ah, now I really need to read Raven!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    Great observations! I feel this way about most middle grade graphic novels, but I was never able to articulate why. You summed up my love for DC and Marvel comics for younger ages perfectly.

    I, too, am distressed that DC is discontinuing these labels. But, this is a bit par for the course with DC. They move fast when deciding if series come and go in the comic world. But, this is a very different market than DC has entered before. I wonder if they just aren’t as familiar with the publishing expectations? This is a great way to pull in a new audience, but a new audience requires nurturing and commitment to acquire. I hadn’t even heard of the imprint until you posted a review earlier this year, and I’m a voracious reader! I think this discontinuation is a bit premature, but perhaps the rest of their MG/YA publications will still fill this void… Only time will tell.

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    • Krysta says:

      I don’t know much about DC or how discontinuing the imprints even matters since they seem to be dedicated to putting out the same kind of content, but I guess we’ll see what happens! I think so far the initiative has been very successful, which makes sense to me since so many comics readers probably do read graphic novels and don’t go to the comic store for single issues. I saw Marvel just announced they will be doing a similar initiative for middle grade readers–it’s about time!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael J. Miller says:

    I SO owe you for turning me towards ‘Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed’! I’m glad DC is continuing this line, albeit under a new label. Like you said, there is clearly a hole in the market these comics helped fill. And with superhero films and TV shows becoming an ever-increasing part of our cultural experience, easy intro/continuity-free stories are so important.

    Also, “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” may be what I ultimately have carved on my headstone. Ahhhhhh, I love it so much! If I eventually use it on my cemetery marker, I’ll be sure to give you credit though ;D.

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    • Krysta says:

      Yes! I was so concerned when I saw that they were discontinuing Zoom and Ink, but if we are getting these same kinds of stories, I really don’t care what labels they get!

      Haha! I’m imagining an tombstone with an MLA citation. Everyone who sees it, “Yeah, this guy was a teacher.”

      Liked by 1 person

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