Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 26, 2019

Thursday, September 26 Dedicated Issue: Random House Graphic

Random House Graphic: A graphic novel on every bookshelf

Editors' Note

Random House Graphic

With the support of the publisher, Shelf Awareness celebrates Random House Graphic, whose first title will appear in January, and offers a sneak peek at Lucy Knisley's Stepping Stones, available this May.

Random House Graphic: Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

Books & Authors

Lucy Knisley and the 'Fictionalized' Stepping Stones

Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley is a critically acclaimed and award-winning comic creator. She lives in Chicago. She specializes in personal, confessional graphic novels and travelogues. Her last name is confusing and has a silent K. It's pronounced kind-of like "nigh-slee." You can find her online @LucyKnisley.

Is Stepping Stones your first written and illustrated graphic novel of pure fiction?

Yep! This is my first fiction. The fact that the main character is a ginger girl who reads comics and doesn't like snakes and is bad at math is all coincidental! Okay, let's say it's "fictionalized."

What made you want to create a story about the change from city life to country life? And adjusting to life with a blended family?

I went through both! It isn't something I'd like to repeat, but it's something I'm glad happened. Now that I'm a parent, I've been thinking quite a lot about how, when you make a choice for yourself, it's really a choice for your family--the kid is just along for the ride. It's one of the most frustrating aspects of childhood and I wanted to get into that and how it can take you to surprising places.

The protagonist, Jen, doesn't really like her mother's boyfriend because he's kind of a jerk. Not in a dangerous way, exactly, but in a way that feels very true--sometimes, people are just jerks. What made you want to include this character?

Walter is based, of course, on my own mom's boyfriend, who lived with us for six or so years. He was totally obnoxious and it was the first time I recognized that an adult can be annoying! They can be immature and dumb and bossy and all these things I'd thought adults were "beyond"! But we all have to learn how to deal with people, even the annoying ones. For kids, it's complicated by being in a position where those adults can be authority figures. Once I got older and was in more of a position to ignore my "Walter," it was a lot easier to love him. I think the concept of personal boundaries and "this situation sucks" vs. "I suck" is something that took me a long time to understand, and I wanted to make that a major part of this story. It was a fine line to walk, though! I had to write him as annoying but in a way that doesn't make you really REALLY loathe him!

On the note of truth... the panel in which the baby chickens immediately destroy their home feels oh so real. Have you worked on a farm? Were there chickens?

Ha! Yes! They're the worst! I found it hilarious when all my adult peers started getting chickens in their little city backyards. You could not pay me enough eggs.

How does it feel to be one of RH Graphic's inaugural creators?

So great. I've been working with Gina Gagliano for more than a decade now, and she's a dear friend and a force of nature in comics. It's awesome to get to work with her--and Whitney Leopard and Patrick Crotty--on making my first middle grade AND fictionalized book!

Is there anything specific you hope readers take with them from reading Stepping Stones?

I hope you recognize yourself or something from your life in these characters and stories. And go into new experiences beyond your control with a little more hope--it might turn out to be annoying but also great.

Random House Graphic: Meet Our Debut List - Coming Spring 2020!

Graphic Novels Everywhere: A Conversation with Gina Gagliano

Gina Gagliano

Gina Gagliano is the Publishing Director of Random House Graphic. She's a member of the comics programming and media committees for the Brooklyn Book Festival. She co-hosts the informational graphic novel publishing podcast Graphic Novel TK (with Alison Wilgus). You can find her online at @_GinaGagliano

Would you please tell our readers a bit about RH Graphic?

Random House Graphic is a kids' and YA graphic novel publisher. You'll be seeing our first books starting in January 2020. 

Have you always wanted to create a graphic novel-focused imprint? 

I fell in love with graphic novels as soon as I picked up my first one! And all the people in the industry I work with--from authors to booksellers, teachers, librarians and media--have such excitement and love for the form that I think it's the best (and most fun) part of publishing today. 

The brochure for the imprint is full of interesting information. Why did you want to include so much in that packet?

Graphic novels are still newcomers on the literary landscape--and so much has been changing for these books in the past decade. We wanted to start by calling out just how exciting the world of graphic novels is today for our readers, especially since it's changing and expanding all the time. Since one of our goals is to make graphic novels for all kinds of readers, that also means readers who are new to graphic novels and I think that background is especially important for them!

Your note to readers in the brochure says, "At Random House Graphic, our mission is to bring the kinds of stories that I read when I was young to the graphic novel form." What kind of stories does this include? What are you looking for when approaching manuscripts this way?

This includes everything! Fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, memoir, mystery--for everyone ages five through young adult. What this means for our list (and our acquisition process) is that we're publishing books that are different from each other. Our list will appeal to readers with interests from bugs to witches to fantasy quests to more contemporary slice-of-life--and every book is one that will stick in readers' hearts and heads.

You also say in the note that you have a "dedicated team of comic lovers." Who does this include? Tell us about your team.

Whitney Leopard is our Senior Editor. She's our point person on acquiring and editing all the RHG graphic novels. Patrick Crotty is our Designer. He works with us and our authors to make all our books into the most attractive possible versions of themselves. [For more from them, see the article following this one.] Nicole Valdez is our Marketing and Publicity Manager. She's the one who tells the rest of the world (and especially all of you) how excited we all are here at Random House Graphic. 

We all love graphic novels a whole lot! And we spend a lot of time reading them... and talking about them... and thinking about them... and working to publish them excellently!

How do you intend to bring about your stated goal of putting "a graphic novel on every bookshelf?"

We'll begin by publishing great graphic novels by great authors and then going from there. But, ultimately, we want graphic novels to be everywhere! They're books that reach every genre and age category and we believe that everyone who loves to read will love graphic novels too.

Random House Graphic: Championing creativity with unforgettable visual stories

Editing and Design with Whitney Leopard and Patrick Crotty

Whitney Leopard is the Senior Editor at RH Graphic and before that she worked at BOOM! Studios on the kid's imprint, KaBOOM!. You can find her online @WhitLeopard.

Patrick Crotty is the Designer at RH Graphic. He also co-founded and runs the small Stockholm-based independent comic publisher PEOW. You can find him online @ppcrotty.

Whitney Leopard

Would you please tell us a little bit about your positions at RH Graphic and what your jobs entail?

Whitney: I work with the creators on their stories as the editor. There's a lot of collaboration, talking through ideas, reading and schedule managing. And, just about every day, someone emails me amazing art in progress, which makes this the best-ever job!

Patrick: I'm the Designer here, working with designing the books from cover to cover and everything on the pages in between. I also do lettering and interior design and work on pretty much anything visual.

Have you always been interested in graphic novels? What brought you to this imprint?

WL: I grew up with comics. I love graphic novels, particularly graphic novels for kids. When I heard Gina was building something in NYC, and that Random House Children's Books was behind it, I knew I wanted to be part of it!

PC: I became interested in graphic novels quite late in my twenties. I started publishing comics about six years ago and have only grown more passionate about them. When approached to join the RHG team, I knew this would be a great new adventure!

What are you looking for in a manuscript?

WL: There's always an X factor. It's important for kid's graphic novels to have strong characters and strong art. But, beyond that, there's definitely a level of "you know it when you see it." And that's true whether it's the expressions on a squirrel, amazing pencil line-art or some devastatingly-written heartbreak (all of which are things I enjoy).

How do manuscripts come to you?

WL: Each pitch is different, but we all talk about potential projects together as a team; everyone at Random House Graphic is part of our acquisition process. We work with both creators who are author/artists and collaborative teams; we even match authors with artists on the right projects. When we all fall in love with something, that's when we know it's right for the imprint!

Patrick Crotty

Whitney, how do you edit an illustrated work?

WL: Graphic novels are complicated: between the text and the art, they involve a number of rounds of editorial input and feedback to make sure the author's vision is coming through in the best possible way in every aspect of the story. It's important to make sure a scene is flowing smoothly, that a character's emotions are clear and that the story works from one panel to the next, in every panel throughout the book.

Patrick, what is the process like for each title?

PC: By the time the book reaches me, most of the interior artwork is done--I work more directly on covers and design. There is a lot of back and forth between me and the creators so we can make something we're all excited about and that will work in the market. The cover is the scariest and most exciting because so much weight is put on that single drawing: it has to be the BEST drawing in the book. It feels great to be there to listen and talk to the artists about that page, lift up their good ideas, keep them motivated and see them feel excited about the cover, even if the final results are completely different from the initial vision. 

Are there any specific titles that you found particularly fun or interesting to work on?

WL: I love all our creators and their stories. But, if I have to call out one book for 2020, it would be Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee. You are not ready for how special it is.

PC: It's a tough question to ask us what we're most fond of! I think we love all our books equally. From our first season, I'm very excited to see Bug Boys in print: the artwork and story are fantastic. And I got the chance to work with the amazing colorist Lyle Lynde!

Upcoming Titles

The Runaway Princess by Johan Troianowski ($12.99, 9780593118405, January 21, 2020) is a fantastical interactive graphic novel perfect for fans of Princess in Black and Phoebe and Her Unicorn!

Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger ($13.99, 9781984896766, February 11, 2020) follows two bug friends as they learn about the science of the world around them and the meaning of friendship.

Aster and the Accidental Magic by Thom Pico and Karensac ($12.99, 9780593118849, March 3, 2020) is a fun, action-packed fantasy adventure about a girl, her dog and magic gone wrong! Perfect for fans of Making Friends.

Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky ($16.99, 9780593119990, April 14, 2020) is a YA fantasy graphic novel full of love, loss and witches.

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley (May 5, 2020) is a contemporary middle-grade graphic novel that focuses on family and dealing with change.

Suncatcher by Jose Pimienta (May 19, 2020) is a YA story filled with music, passion, supernatural secrets and family.

Kerry and the Knight of the Forest by Andi Watson (July 7, 2020) is an adventure-filled graphic novel that fans of Amulet and Mighty Jack are sure to enjoy.

Crabapple Trouble by Kaeti Vandorn (August 11, 2020) is a young chapter book starring an adorable cast of fruit and vegetable inspired characters.

To learn more, sign up for the newsletter at

Follow @RHKidsGraphic on Twitter/Instagram.

Random House Graphic: The Runaway Princess by Johan Troianowski

Random House Graphic: Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger

Random House Graphic: Aster and the Accidental Magic by Thom Pico, illustrated by Karensac

Random House Graphic: Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky

Powered by: Xtenit