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.
“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.”
“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.”