Dark Horse Comics have announced a renewed strategy to expand the number of all-ages graphic novels they publish, with a concentrated push into the market for 2015 with the launch of four new titles: Rexodus, The Courageous Princess, Veda: Assembly Required, and The Return of the Gremlins.

All four books - a mix of new and older reprints- sound like the kind of thing I'd be interested in taking a closer look at- here's a quick breakdown of each:

  • Rexodus by James Farr and Jon Sommariva: a sci-fi tale based on the idea that dinosaurs didn't go extinct- they simply relocated to another planet. Rexodus follows events as scientists figure this out, even as the prehistoric creatures make a return to Earth.
  • The Courageous Princess by Rod Espinosa: a reprint of Espinosa's 1999 acclaimed fantasy graphic novel trailing a princess journeying through mystical lands to find her way home.
  • Veda: Assembly Required by Samuel Teer and Hyeondo Park: the story of an orphaned girl raised by robots in a factory, who discovers she has the ability to 'speak' with machines.
  • The Return of the Gremlins by Mike Richardson and Dean Yeagle: a hardback collection of the comics adaptations of the Roald Dahl kid's classic.

The new slate of books will be edited and overseen by Dark Horse editor Sierra Hahn, who cites the changing face of comics for children as one of the reasons behind the bid: "I’ve always been interested in editing more titles for kids and teens. I’m not alone in that I first fell in love with the medium as a child and it led to an enduring love for reading. My experience was that there weren’t a wealth of acclaimed comics suitable for a 12 to 16 year old.That’s really changed in the last decade with more offerings available to a larger age group thanks in part to the successes of Scholastic’s Graphix and First Second."

It's interesting to see Hahn mention Graphix and First Second as examples here- both of whom are subsidiaries of larger book publishers, and whose success can partly be attributed to catering more to book and library markets.

Having signed a deal with Random House last year for its book trade distribution (although Diamond continues as their distributor to comic book stores), Dark Horse are now better placed to do the same, as Michael Martens, vice president of business development, acknowledges: "With our new relationship with Random House, we have the ability to not only sell a higher volume of these titles, but promote the books in previously underutilized channels. We will be putting title incentives on these books for the independent bookstores, and promoting heavily through the library channels."

I'm a huge fan of all-ages comics, and a common (and, in my opinion, often unfair) criticism of comics is that not enough material is being produced that is suitable for children, so it's great to another publisher take steps beyond licensed properties to begin to address the market in a more serious fashion.