A page from the “sketchbook” that is a part of DiMartino's "Geniuses" project. (Click to enlarge.) A page from the “sketchbook” that is a part of DiMartino's "Geniuses" project. (Click to enlarge.)
Books

‘Avatar,’ ‘Korra’ Co-Creator Michael DiMartino to Write ‘Geniuses’ Novel Series

A page from the “sketchbook” that is a part of DiMartino's "Geniuses" project. (Click to enlarge.)
A page from the “sketchbook” that is a part of DiMartino’s “Geniuses” project. (Click to enlarge.)

Another day, another Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra co-creator leaves animation for publishing.

Like his fellow collaborator Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino too has joined the ranks of publisher Macmillan, but instead of a competing comic, DiMartino will write a book series. Geniuses is a fantasy about artists whose respective creative geniuses are actual living creatures in danger of being destroyed by an oppressive regime which views their power as existential threats. Its philosophical and sociopolitical explorations — anchored by the young artist Giacomo, who leads a group of fellow students on a quest to find the mythical Creator’s Compass — are similar to Konietzko’s Threadworlds, announced earlier this week.

While Konieztko’s comic won’t be available until 2017, DiMartino’s first installment of Geniuses, The Creature and the Creator, arrives from Macmillan imprint Roaring Brook Press in fall 2016. That gives Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra fandom something to look forward to, now that their brilliant yet underrated favorite shows are no more.

Both DiMartino and Konietzko are scheduled to appear Friday at Comic-Con 2015 to discuss the future of their landmark animated series with Dark Horse Comics. What the future truly has in store for Aang and Korra is yet to be decided, but what is decided, until further notice, is that the co-creators of those Nick series have elected to go the publishing route rather than settle in at an animation studio to make another cartoon.

“Over the years, I’ve heard from and met so many wonderful fans who have shared how the Avatar universe inspired them to overcome a struggle in their life, to follow a dream, or achieve a long sought-after goal,” DiMartino said. “I realized how transformative and impactful stories and characters can be in a young person’s life, and I hope to continue inspiring and entertaining people with this new series.”

“Michael DiMartino’s ability to create unique worlds—and characters that we can come to know and love—will have readers immersed in an epic and brilliantly original adventure,” added Roaring Brook Press senior editor Connie Hsu. “It’s remarkable how he takes on a concept as abstract as the creative spirit and makes it into something tangible and exciting. Readers will all be imagining what their own Geniuses look like and will find inspiration in Giacomo, his friends, and their quest to not only save the world, but also celebrate the power of art.”

  • J

    “Geniuses is a fantasy about artists whose respective creative geniuses are actual living creatures in danger of being destroyed by an oppressive regime which views their power as existential threats.”

    speaking as someone employed as a “creative” who is often stifled by bureaucracy, I can appreciate the sentiment, but I’m not a fan of the resurgence of randian objectivism in novels/movies/shows aimed at children lately. We don’t need a bunch of things about “supermen being oppressed by the ungrateful riffraff”, that conversation has been over for a while, now. If the book is being written to give a feeling of specialness to readers like a prospective 10-year-old me, vie instead for equality, not exceptionalism. As much as I support people pursuing their strengths, playing to someone’s feelings of egocentricity is… I don’t want to say lazy, I don’t want to say damaging, maybe just… overplayed.

    it’s interesting to see this, though, because Avatar/Korra played with these ideas, but never quite approached anything like a real commentary of them. In The Legend of Korra, the first season toyed around with an idea of benders, literal supermen, oppressing those without powers, but interestingly the people who rebelled for their own protection were portrayed as unequivocally the bad guys and those who did have powers were there to save them from themselves. Surely that ideology rings a bell? The opportunity for empathy in their direction was there, but was abandoned when they wrapped the season up, never to be revisited again. I know you could say “but who would want to watch a show without lots of cool bending powers!”, though, so I guess I understand the motivations to can it.

    It’s weird to be in the position of “superman” in this objectivist point of view, for once… rarely in fiction are artists or creatives put in the position as the rare gems to be protected from oppression, instead of the unrealistic lazy dreamers that need a reality check and who are the overabundant slugs being supported by the smart people who “actually do something”… so maybe this is worth a look, simply for subverting all that.

    Maybe I’m just thinking too much about it.

    • john sanchez

      Yeah, right? who would want to watch a show about people without their bendings? but the idea is not only to strip them from those awesome cool power, is more to give a commentary about that, to show their humanity below the crispy superpowered crust. I mean, in the end, LoK was more like dragon ball than anything, a lot of super cool SFX everywhere, everyone solving their problems with lots of bendings, people flying left and right. And at the very last moment, what saved the day was the ability of Korra to spirit bend a power or something.
      But where were the conection with other human beings and working together with their limitations ans weakness to overcome the great evil?
      I think it all went to heck in season two between the two spiritual godzillas having a power ranger moment in the sea.
      And the metaphor for that was? Well, Kuvira had some cool potential as a all too human villian who only directed the masses to where her wishes were, that was cool and had lots of potential, finally at last we have the common people fighting for what they want and joining together for that! except not, because they focused so much in the weapons of global destruction and maybe some warhead metaphors, but in the end we were left with nothing. I couldn´t pick a single coherent theme througout the show, not one…well, maybe Korra learning to stop being such a spoiled brat and becoming a LGBTQ representative or something, aah, and responsable, of course.
      All in all, I have read korra fanfictions with far more better messages and themes than this…

  • BlueBoomPony

    He had me at the hummingbird projecting things from its head.