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Follow's DC's Young Readers panel talking about Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Dreamer, and more

Nicole Maines (Bad Dream: A Dreamer Story), Sina Grace (Superman: The Harvests of Youth), Penelope and Jerry Gaylord (Diana and the Hero's Journey; Clark & Lex), Jeffrey Brown (Batman and Robin and Howard), and Jim Benton (Fann Club: Batman Squad) talking comics

Clark & Lex
Image credit: Jerry Gaylord (DC)

If you're reading this, you grew up on DC heroes. While there's other heroes, the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman have been ingrained in pop culture since the '60s - beyond the comics into movies, TV shows, clothing, and even bedsheets. But how do they grab the young readers of today?

Great comics.

Here in the final hours of San Diego Comic-Con 2023, DC is leading a panel about its books for young readers - be it young adult, middle-grade, or whater terminology you have for it. Scheduled to be on hand are authors Nicole Maines (Bad Dream: A Dreamer Story), Sina Grace (Superman: The Harvests of Youth), Penelope and Jerry Gaylord (Diana and the Hero's Journey; Clark & Lex), Jeffrey Brown (Batman and Robin and Howard), and Jim Benton (Fann Club: Batman Squad), and a surprise guest.

In addition to that, Popverse's own Ashley V. Robinson - a YA comic creator itself - will be hosting the panel.

Can't make it to SDCC? Don't worry, Popverse will be live in the room for this panel to break the biggest news and the most interesting insights about the whole thing. You can follow along live with our play-by-play, or come back later for a beat-by-beat recap of the entire thing.

Follow along to the 'DC Books for Young Readers' panel from SDCC 2023, as it begins Sunday, July 23 and 11:15 AM PST / 2:15 PM EST.

Popverse saw it and did most of it, and you can find all about our guide to All the big news, magic, and moments from San Diego Comic-Con. And if you want to go to SDCC next year, we have the San Diego Comic-Con 2024 dates as well.

Our live coverage of this event has finished.

Hi and welcome to Popverse liveblog of the DC Young Readers panel!

Jim McDermott

We're about 4 minutes away from starting. Based on the placards on stage, it looks like this is going to be a very full panel.
DC has done such a tremendous job in recent years with Young Readers books. Should be cool to hear what's coming next.
We're getting started. Ashley V. Robinson from Popverse (Huzzah!) is inviting people on stage.
They are Sina Grace (Superman: The Harvests of Youth), Nicole Maines (Bad Dream: A Dreamer Story), Jim Benton (Fann CLu: Batman Squad), Jeffrey Brown (Batman and Robin and Howard), Penelope and Jerry Gaylord (Diana and the Hero's Journey; Clark & Lex).
Superman: The Harvests of Youth is coming out Oct 3rd!
Sina says the one luxury of having been trapped at home during the pandemic was getting to spend more time developing this book.
We're seeing art of the whole cast. Pa Kent has a lumberjack-y vibe, Ma Kent looks pretty fashionable. Lots of interesting stuff.
"It's a book about hope," says Grace. "Every day I was working on it was a day I was saving myself."
Robinson asks how you help kids deal with grief and helpelessness. Grace says the tragedies that happen in this book are the kinds of things that kids go through.
Grace tried to write something that would have helped him when he was a kid. (The only thing he had to process grief was Buffy ep "The Body.")
More pages, Clark wrapped in his Superman cape looking sad. Wonderfully emotional.
There are new characters in the book—Amy and Gil. Also Chloe from Smallville, and other characters we know.
Amy is Clark's love interest; we're seeing Clark and Amy kiss. "I always think of Lana as friend. I don't want Lana to be anybody's love interest."
Grace kids that Amy's dress is super fancy and expensive. "She has friends in New York who send her things."
Robinson is doing a great job of teaching the audience to cheer when they are given cool things (we're being given copies of some of the comics mentioned today).
We're on to Bad Dream!
Maines went to DC Comics a while back and asked them what's the plan for her, she's groundbreaking and special.
She went in with a pitch, said someone should write this, and they asked her, what if you were to do a story for our YA line about sisters?
She's been working on this project for three years.
We're seeing pages of Dreamer with her older sister. "It was a really fun character to get to flesh out more. I imagine her as a witchy mall goth in her teen era."
"Mia spent the first part of her life resigned to be the supporting player to her sister."
Maines is so excited for people to see Rye Hickman's art, especially the dreams, "these beautiful tapestries."
Maines reveals she was asked to include Taylor and Cat from Galaxy: The Prettiest Star. "I fell in love with these characters....it was some of my favorite stuff to write."
Argus the talking dog from Galaxy is getting a lot of love right now. If you have not read this book you are missing out.
Everyone in the room is also getting a pin from Jim Benton!
Benton's take on Batman is that he's earnest, he believes in what's right. Eventually good comes out over evil.
Robinson wonders how he came up with the super hero names. Benton reveals Ernest names them though he doesn't know who they are.
Correction: ERNEST believes in justice, not Batman is earnest. lol
(Ernest is the main character of Benton's book.)
We're seeing art, which has Benton's characteristically funny cartoon style.
Some of the Bat-characters are called Nightstand and Eyeshadow.
Benton sees himself as competing with TikTok for kids' attention. "We have to keep it fast." So there's just a few panels per page and jokes on every page.
There is a coathanger as bat-a-rang joke that is his favorite joke in the book.
(He says everyone has used coat hangers as bat-a-rangs. The first person in the room to admit it is being given a piece of Jim Benton art.)
We're onto Batman & Robin & Howard by Jeffrey Brown.
Talking about how to deal with the fact that Damien is so mean, Brown talks about how he's in middle school (and also his dad is Batman), and these things totally fit with that.
The idea with Howard was, he's already settled in middle school and content, super nice. "The kid I wish I was."
Batman is "such an awkward father" in this volume, Robinson says.
Brown says, in most iterations of Batman, he is SO COOL. But no matter who you are, to your middle school kid your dad is so not cool.
(And it sounds like Batman is trying to be cool, too. Which makes it worse.)
There will be a sequel to this book called Batman and Robin and Howard Summer Breakdown!
It will be released as 3 separate issues and then collected.
(And there will be more soccer adventures.)
Brown has drawings to give away "but they should have to work for them."
He gave a drawing of Batman to someone with a Batman plushie.
Also a Robin drawing to someone with a Robin toy. And now they're posing together, to great applause.
Brown gave a picture of Howard to a Waldo who has been wearing the Women's World Cup.
Finally he gave an anxious Batman picture to someone who admits that they feel anxious today lol.
Cheers for the Gaylords, artists on Clark & Lex.
Jerry thought Lex should look very cool, and given the fact that he will grow up to be bald he thought it would be great to give him really awesome hair.
Jerry says Smallville was definitely an inspiration. Also Superman III.
There is a lot of time being spent talking about just how hot Lex looks. We are trying to process this together.
We're seeing the beautiful cover of Diana and the Hero's Journey, which was illustrated by Penelope Gaylord.
Robinson notes the two have done Superman and Wonder Woman; should be time for a Batman title. They are definitely ready to do that!
Jerry says he's very tight with Superman, as though he's an actual friend. So it really allows him to shoot for a "broad, epic kind of feel."
Penelope says the WW book is not so much about being a kid on an island full of grown-ups.
Diana has a goat sidekick named Phyllis (who is adorable).
Penelope says Grace Ellis was an amazing writer, her style lent itself to this part of Diana's life.
(Phyllis basically serves as Diana's friend. She's the only other kid on the island.)
(Yep, that was a pun. #Sorrynotsorry)
There is a super suprise guest, Sherri L. Smith, who has a new DC book coming out next year called Lightning: Changes!
It's the story of 13-year-old Jennifer Pierce, who doesn't know her dad is a super hero, her sister is going to college, and she's having feelings for Lex Luthor with long hair.
(There is definitely a Lex & Phyllis book coming.)
We're seeing art of the family. Jefferson has a wonderful dad vibe. There's also an aunt and cousins in Memphis.
The art from Lily J. Allen is really gorgeous.
Is Jefferson Pierce a cool dad? "The only people who think your dad is cool are other kids."
First pages ever seen from this book. There's a great sense of humor, life and color to the pages.
Smith and her editor spent a lot of time on Instagram looking for the right artist.
Robinson underlines, if you're a young artist Instagram is a good place to post work. (Smith notes, use the hashtag #artist.)
Smith promises the book is "going to make you laugh and it might give you a bit of the feels."
"It's a hand to hold as you go through your own Lex Luthor feelings" and also life feelings.
Smith's dream is to see lots of daddy/daughter book clubs to read Lightning: Changes.
Advice for people who want to create comics? Penelope: Do what you want to do. It will never fail you.
Jerry: Do it now. Don't wait until you've achieved some particular skills. No, just start, right now.
Sherri: The world needs stories now, and lots of people who are trying to stop them. So tell stories do it now.
Jim: Write drunk and edit sober. (Robinson notes that's great advice for the young people.)
Jim explains, just get it all out there now. Don't worry about getting it right. That's for the rewrite.
Nicole agrees with Penelope. Write the story you want to read.
Sina: Don't feel bad about it being hard. It will be hard. But that doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. Stay connected to what makes you happy.
And that's it! Great job Ashley and all the panelists!
Excuse me, I need to go grab a copy of Clark & Lex. Enjoy the rest of our liveblogs!