IDW Partners With Smithsonian Enterprises to Create New Graphic Novels

Comic Books Education Entertainment
Drawn by National Book Award winner Nate Powell, an interpretation of “The Castle,” the original building of The Smithsonian Institution.

Two great tastes that taste great together…

Later this year, well-known comic publisher IDW is partnering up with Smithsonian Enterprises (AKA The Smithsonian Institution folks) to create several types of comics and other products for teens, kids, and adults. This program will be multi-year, so I expect we’ll see a lot of products trickling out in the near future.

IDW knows comics and The Smithsonian knows culture, history, and scientific knowledge, so I’m very excited to see what the two together will produce. Presenting history through the medium of comics and art is a compelling visual way to reach more readers, including those who are more visually minded and might find these volumes on the shelf near their favorite superhero comics. Starting this fall (2020), this partnership will start putting out products such as:

  • “Time Trials” which will be a middle-grade graphic novel series inspired by a video series put out by the National Museum of American History (probably my favorite museum ever)
  • Original graphic novels that revolve around important events and important people, similar to IDW’s previous triumphs, March and They Called Us Enemy (seriously, check these out)
  • Coloring books for both adults (!!!) and kids
  • Picture books aimed at young readers
  • Plus more—can’t wait to see what they have up their collective sleeves

I’ve reviewed some Smithsonian-done comics aimed at youth in the past and they were interesting and well done; I would have loved them as a kid! (Learn about Claws and Effect, The Wrong Wrights, and It’s Treason, by George! here at GeekDad.) The Smithsonian has a vast collection of primary source and reference material to draw from, so you know that any series they work on will be backed by deep collections of material with high historical accuracy.

And, it sounds like the folks at IDW and the Smithsonian are just as excited as I am. Here are a few of their reactions to the project:

“The most energizing thing about working with the Smithsonian’s curators, researchers, and zookeepers is that these are not just experts in their fields: they’re storytellers,” says Chris Ryall, IDW’s President, Publisher, and CCO. “Together, we’ll use the unique power of comics to entertain, inspire, and educate readers of all ages about the wonders of history, science, technology, culture, and more.”

“We’re excited to work with the IDW team and share the full breadth of the Smithsonian’s extraordinary collections and research with readers around the world,” says Carol LeBlanc, President of Smithsonian Enterprises. “We can’t wait to see world-class writers and artists bring the Smithsonian mission to diverse audiences in innovative, accessible, and engaging new ways.”

“Comics can communicate complex ideas in the blink of an eye,” says Justin Eisinger, IDW’s Editorial Director, Graphic Novels & Collections. “As our art form becomes increasingly central to the work of educators and librarians, this program presents a unique and important opportunity to align IDW’s mission of quality graphic storytelling with the Smithsonian’s quest to share information with curious minds everywhere.”

“Award-winning books like March and They Called Us Enemy have demonstrated the massive potential of graphic nonfiction that’s infused with literary richness, visionary artwork, and personal passion,” says Leigh Walton, Editor and Marketing Director for IDW’s Top Shelf imprint. “With the brilliant minds at the Smithsonian, I’m thrilled to apply those same values to explore untold stories and new frontiers around the world and throughout the universe.”

Stay tuned to GeekDad in the coming months for reviews of some of these products!

You can learn more about IDW and The Smithsonian at their respective websites.

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