‘Avatar’ and ‘Korra’ Co-Creator Bryan Konietzko Weaves New Graphic Novel ‘Threadworlds’

"Threadworlds." Click to enlarge. (Image: FirstSecond Books)

“Threadworlds.” Click to enlarge. (Image: FirstSecond Books)

Hurry up and wait, benders! Bryan Konietzko’s debut graphic novel series Threadworlds, acquired by Macmillan imprint First Second, arrives in 2017.

Like Konietzko’s Peabody-winning animated series Avatar: The Last Airbdender, and its feminist sequel The Legend of Korra, co-created with Michael Dante DiMartino, Threadworlds explores what happens when the natural universe meets technological progress — or regress, depending on the planet. Threadworlds has five of them sharing a single orbit, each in its own stage of technological development, all of them Earth-like analogues “teeming with life,” according to First Second’s announcement this morning.

But those with questions about whether or not Threadworlds will soon be adapted into an animated series should probably slow their roll.

"Threadworlds." Click to enlarge. (Image: FirstSecond Books)

“Threadworlds.” Click to enlarge. (Image: FirstSecond Books)

“I have dreamed of doing a graphic novel project since art school,” said Konietzko in a written statement. “My career took a different path for the last seventeen years, but I am finally getting around to it! Co-creating and producing Avatar and Korra was an incredible experience, but as an artist and writer I have longed to find a more intimate connection with the making of my work. The artists on our animation productions were so incredibly talented and inspiring that I got the itch to strike out on my own and test my mettle in this neighboring medium.”

Like The Legend of Korra, Threadworlds is also led by a powerful female protagonist, the aptly named Nova, who is not an elemental superhero but instead a young scientist from a primitive planet whose fading empire is unable to let go of its oppressive traditions, one of which forbids women to read and write. Nova’s scientific discoveries set unequivocal changes in motion across Threadworlds’s interconnected planets, promising a more philosophical comics entry in a marketplace still mostly, dumbly bound by patriarchal superheroes.

“Once I came up with the idea for Threadworlds and spent some time thinking about its main character, Nova, it became less of a choice and more of something I simply had to do,” explained Konieztko. “The things Nova wants to learn, I want to learn. I am compelled to go on this journey with her and explore these worlds together.”

"Threadworlds." Click to enlarge. (Image: FirstSecond Books)

“Threadworlds.” Click to enlarge. (Image: FirstSecond Books)

“I definitely wasn’t aiming to be topical, but once science became the focal point of the story I knew it was important to me to have a young girl as the main character,” Konietzko added in an Entertainment Weekly interview about Threadworlds. “This is basically Nova’s long origin story as scientific superhero. I hope she’ll be inspiring to readers of all genders and ages, but especially girls who are interested in studying and pursuing science.

Konietzko counts himself lucky to have found a home for Threadworlds at First Second Books, a youth imprint home to intriguing work from comics outliers like Paul Pope (Battling Boy), Richard Sala (Cat Burglar Black), and Jillian and Mariko Tamaki (This One Summer). Its “awe-inspiring stable of creators” and editor Mark Siegel helped seal the deal for Konietzko, who says he now has “a lot of writing and drawing to do.”

“The seven seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra have delivered some of the most beloved and inspired storytelling of our time,” Siegel said. “With Threadworlds, Bryan further spreads his wings as an author and an artist, taking us to startling new worlds and creatures at once alien and brimming with familiar humanity. It’s daring, it’s deep, and like Avatar, it’s that rarest thing these days: a thrilling adventure that isn’t in the least cynical. And gasp-out-loud wondrous artwork to top it all off. I love what Bryan Konietzko does.”

  • Mike

    Is it really necessary to describe Korra as Avatar’s “feminist sequel?” It’s a sequel, starring a woman. But part of the hallmark of Mike and Bryan’s series is that they are interesting stories that happen to have well-developed characters– Korra didn’t try to push some feminist agenda, and if it was resonant in that regard it was because those characters struck a chord. If anything I’d say that Avatar was more feminist than Korra; it had stronger and better-developed characters (male and female!) and purposefully addressed issues of social inequality and discrimination. Korra’s first and second seasons, in contrast, featured both female protagonists dueling for the affections of a dumb aloof dude…

  • Paul M

    We all know this is going to be an animated series, so can we just get on with it please?

  • Társio Abranches

    Interesting! But these first images resemble too much an animation.

    A comic needs a looser style, more intimate.

  • Redwood

    I know that many people might not agree with me, but having a protagonist that is female or a member of a racial or any other minority will never automatically make a work good. Especially if it is presented as a major selling point.

    Just look at tLoK for example. When people talk about this show you can be almost sure that someone will praise the ending and talk about it, even though the segment took around 20 seconds out of more than 40 episodes. Almost any article about Korra will mention the ending, the progressiveness, the representation, feminism and “strong, POC,
    female, bisexual protagonist” as like nothing else about the show even
    mattered. When people point out the weak points of the series and how it was, in their opinion, inferiour to The Last Airbender and had weak characters, rushed plot and spent so few time developing the characters and the world they just get called homophobic and downvoted into oblivion.

    So why almost all my favourite books, movies and shows have a predominately male, and usually white and straight, cast, even though I’m a girl? Because I care about engaging story, about beautiful art, about meaningful and interesting conflict, not about the physical traits of the characters.

    For the record, I’m not saying that the diversity is bad; I think it’s quite the opposite. I know that here are many wonderful works that have female protagonists. However, when diversity and progressiveness are flaunted like a red rag in front of a bull and people call you a bigot for not liking the work, then it gets bad.

    I apologize for the huge wall of text; I just really needed to get this off my chest.