“We wanted to go back to what we used to have in comic books: story arcs for younger readers,” said Bobbie Chase, a vice president at DC and the executive editor for the new imprints.
Though a few of the graphic novels will have creators who are already working in the comic book industry, the majority of the writers are a Who’s Who of popular novelists for young readers. They include Laurie Halse Anderson (“Speak”), Melissa de la Cruz (the Descendants series), Michael Northrop (“TombQuest”) and Ridley Pearson (the Kingdom Keepers series).
“Any initiative that will create material for 7 to 15-year-olds, I’m all for,” said Chuck Rozanski, the president of Mile High Comics, which has three comic stores in and near Denver. “That’s our biggest growth area in the store.”
Mr. Rozanski added that a lot of comics, particularly those centered on superheroes, attract a limited, die-hard audience. “The young people coming into stores are not getting material they can take ownership of,” he said. “They are hungry for adventure and for the kind of escapism that comics can provide.”
DC Ink will begin with two graphic novels: one featuring Harley Quinn, written by Mariko Tamaki and drawn by Steve Pugh, and one with Mera, written by Danielle Paige. (No artist has been announced for that project.) DC Zoom will make its debut with “DC Super Hero Girls: Search for Atlantis,” by Shea Fontana and Yancey Labat.
If that sounds like a lineup heavy on heroines, there is a reason.
“If you look at readership in middle grade and Y.A. in general, you’ll see a swing on the side of female readers,” said Michele Wells, the vice president for content strategy at DC.
While staple-bound comic books have traditionally appealed to an audience of male readers, graphic novels have a more diverse readership.
“You’ll see that Gene Luen Yang book, ‘Superman Smashes the Klan,’ will be for both,” Ms. Wells said. “If anyone can make a bold statement with Superman, it is Gene Yang.”
The softcover Zoom graphic novels will cost $9.99 and run 128 pages, while the Ink books will be priced at $16.99 for 192 pages. The stories will be free from the elaborate continuity of previous superhero tales.
Mr. Pearson, whose Kingdom Keepers series follows teenagers who are trying to keep villains from taking over a Disney theme park, has signed on to write a “Super Sons” graphic novel. It will feature Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne, the sons of Clark Kent (Superman) and Bruce Wayne (Batman), who have appeared in various DC Comics.
Jonathan Kent, whose mother is Lois Lane, does not rely on his superstrength, Mr. Pearson said. “He’s also got a lot of Lois in him: He’s thoughtful, investigative and a reader,” he said. “He wishes he had his dad’s superpowers, but he’s at 50 or 60 percent. That’s fun to play with.”
Additional confirmed Superman-related titles and authors for DC Zoom include:
- DEAR JUSTICE LEAGUE – Michael Northrop (TOMBQUEST series)
- SUPER SONS – Ridley Pearson (KINGDOM KEEPERS series)
- SUPERMAN OF SMALLVILLE – writer and artist: Art Baltazar & Franco (TINY TITANS)
- SUPERMAN SMASHES THE KLAN – Gene Yang (AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER series, NEW SUPER-MAN), will be released as periodicals first, then collected