In recent years, the comics industry has begun to realize the extent to which young adult novels are working to help make the comics industry flourish at this transitional time. While working outside of what has long been considered the “mainstream” comics industry of Marvel and DC, creators like Noelle Stevenson and Raina Telgemeier have been creating best selling young adult graphic novels with titles such as Nimona and Smile. The genre of the YA graphic novel, which is bringing in a new generation of young readers interested in personal, character-driven stories outside of the capes and cowls titles, may just be the future of comics. Writer Emily Reisbeck and illustrator Ellen Kramer are playing their part in shaping that hopeful future with It’s Your Funeral, a brand new young adult graphic novel from Iron Circus Comics.
Iron Circus pitches the new young adult graphic novel, initially slated for June but delayed by that wild, viral bandit, like this:
The new teen graphic novel by Emily Riesbeck and Ellen Kramer from Iron Circus Comics is full of cute monsters, sharply honed jokes, and emotional punch; it’s simply a delight.
When we first meet our hero, Marnie, she has just departed this plane of existence, but she’s not too broken up about it; her struggles with misery in life were getting too exhausting. Her first stop is the Department of Spectral Affairs, a bureaucratic nightmare of office politics and terrible filing systems in the Great Beyond, staffed with case workers who help spirits stop lingering on Earth. But Marnie’s case worker, Xel, can’t find any deep connections or unfinished business left behind by Marnie, so she can’t diagnose the closure she needs to pass on. And that’s when she hits upon a brilliant idea: hire Marnie instead!
The touching and hilarious cases that follow showcase a broad spectrum of humanity, the ties that bind, and the many complicated things that can keep us mired in place instead of evolving. Along the way we follow Marnie through her own dawning mental health awareness. When she first comes to the DSA she expects them to fuss over and then abandon her just like everyone had in life, but Xel isn’t giving up so easy. Marnie’s slow journey towards being accepted (and accepting that) is just as sweet and life affirming as it sounds. As interdimensional co-worker V’qttyr says at a key moment, “Look at us! We’re a hot mess, but at least we still try every day.”
Writer Emily Riesback’s excitement for the young adult graphic novel is infection. They tweeted, “I saw a tweet from someone showing off a real actual copy of It’s Your Funeral that they got in the mail, and I’m like OH NO! OH NO! [It’s] very exciting, but also very scary! Am I ready to be a published author?” Artist Ellen Kramer also mentions It’s Your Funeral as being her first book.
The concept is fun, the artwork is full of character and whimsy, and Reisback and Kramer are fresh new voices. All of this is precisely what makes books like this sell. The future of the industry isn’t in the hands of those who write superhero icons for adults who have been reading the same characters since they were kids. Young readers are intrigued by new stories and new ideas that reflect what it’s like to be a person in this, the strangest of all times.
The genre Iron Circus lists for the book can capture what we’re all feeling now: “Paranormal / Humorous / Depression.” If that doesn’t summarize 2020 in three words, I don’t know what does.
It’s Your Funeral, a 200-page graphic novel, drops from Iron Circus Comics on July 2020.
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