Fans of the Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra creators, rejoice! Hot on the heels of Bryan Konietzko’s announcement of his graphic novel miniseries Threadworlds, Michael DiMartino is launching a new property as well. He’ll be writing a series of books called Geniuses, which will be predominantly fictional prose with a healthy amount of illustration in each novel. As DiMartino explains, “Done in a style of Da Vinci’s sketchbooks, the illustrations will be images from the main character’s sketchbook, 12-year-old artist named Giacomo.”
This prose debut for DiMartino will center on the notion that “art is magic” and that great adventure can come from ones own creations. Geniuses takes place in a Renaissance-like fantasy world, and the title figures refer not to the characters but rather to the embodiments of their artistry, their muses. The first image from the series portrays protagonist Giacomo, presumably with his own Genius, a crowned hummingbird, hovering above his head and projecting a spiral geometric image.
A person with a Genius is seen as a threat in the eyes of this fantasy world’s leader, and so anyone who displays signs of possessing a Genius is captured and sequestered away from society. Those prisoners then have their Geniuses destroyed and, as a result, become hollow shells of their former selves, devoid of original thought or inspiration. Giacomo is one of a select hidden few possessors of a Genius left in the land who is on the cusp of learning how to fully harness its power, but a secondary threat arises and puts a halt to his training.
The Rogue Artist arises as a threat to Genius-wielders and to the common folk alike, as he plans to find and use a mythical artifact called the Creator’s Compass to destroy the world. Giacomo and his fellow students from the secretive lessons set out on the dangerous mission to find the Compass so as to prevent the Rogue Artist from achieving his goal. It would appear that the themes of suppression, resistance, and retaliation that DiMartino explored in The Legend of Korra Book One: Air will be getting a revival and making their way into this new series novels.
Geniuses will be published in the fall of 2016 from Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. Connie Hsu, Roaring Brook Press senior editor had the following to say about Dimartino’s work:
“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. 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. We look forward to launching this creative genius on the Roaring Brook list!”
As a person who filled many a sketchbook in my youth, I must say this sounds like an exciting new idea for readers. Mike’s work while writing both Avatar and Korra leave me firmly convinced that this new series of books will be every bit as engrossing as the world of bending so many of us came to love. “Art as magic” is an exciting concept, and it should prove to be a worthwhile endeavor for both DiMartino and for the young (and old) readers that pick up his new novels.