Another popular young-adult franchise is breaking into graphic novels. Following The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and The Baby-Sitters Club will be Degrassi: Extra Credit, based on the popular Degrassi: The Next Generation television series.
I have a certain fondness for the television series and found myself intermittently hypnotized by a marathon of episodes that ran over the Near Year’s weekend. It really makes most other teen soap operas look anemic and timid. Each episode contains what feels like the content of four or five After-School Specials. Bullying, sexually transmitted diseases, body image, cutting, sexual identity, substance abuse, school violence, and unplanned pregnancies all barge their way in amidst the usual interpersonal drama. It’s crazy, and it doesn’t always work, but it’s hard to turn away.
According to the press release, the graphic novels will take an “Untold Tales of the Degrassi Community School” approach, “weaving new adventures, challenges and life experiences seamlessly into the DNG story.”
“‘We work tremendously hard to ensure that Degrassi is relevant to the lives of teens,’ said Degrassi creator Linda Schuyler, president of Epitome Pictures. ‘That’s why being at the forefront of the English-language manga movement is incredibly exciting — it’s an art form that kids everywhere are embracing.’”
While I understand the sentiment, Degrassi rather missed its shot of the forefront a while ago. (I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever seen a Degrassi character carrying around a manga digest. They don’t really seem to have time for hobbies, what with the gonorrhea, shootings, bipolar episodes, etc.) But forefront or catch-up lane, it makes sense. There’s a natural crossover audience, I think, and good for them for pursuing it.
The OGNs will be written by J. Torres, and he seems like a very smart choice. He’s experienced with adaptations of television series (Teen Titans Go! and Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi), romantic dramedy (Love as a Foreign Language), and young adult stories (Alison Dare, Sidekicks). I’m a bit less convinced by the preview art from Ed Northcott. (It isn’t final, though.) Northcott’s take seems to be halfway between Neal Adams and Kaori Yuki, and I’m not sure the influences sit together very comfortably. We’ll see.