I’m writing the new Avatar: The Last Airbender Comic!

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Gene's Blog

Dark Horse has it up on their website, so I can finally talk about what I’ve been working on since January:  I’m writing the new Avatar: The Last Airbender comic book! The art is by the amazing Gurihiru, the Japanese team behind many of the most awesome stories in Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Lost Adventures.  The pencils I’ve seen have been pure comics bliss.  I giggled when I first saw them.  Out loud.  No joke.  I sounded exactly like my four-year-old daughter when she gets an ice cream cone.  Only I am a thirty-eight-year-old man.

One of the best things about this gig (and there are many, many good things) is that I get to work closely with Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender.  I e-mail them, like, all the time, and they totally e-mail me back.  It’s awesome.  I get to see how they approach a story, how they think through characterization, how they build tension.  I get to steal a little of their mojo.  I’ve learned so much.

This isn’t the first comic I’ve done on Avatar: The Last Airbender.  Right before the live-action movie was released, I did a short webcomic protesting the movie’s casting decisions.  I still feel pretty strongly about it.  If you get a couple beers in me and bring up the topic I’ll go off like an Asian Samuel L. Jackson.  I have yet to see the movie, and now I have an even better reason to avoid it: the only A:TLA universe I want inside my head as I’m writing these comics is the animated one.  The real one.

There’s so much more to say…about the comic’s plot, about how it relates thematically to my books at First Second, about why I think A:TLA expresses something quintessentially Asian American, about the folks in the A:TLA fanbase I’ve gotten to know, about the good people at Dark Horse who are guiding me on my first foray into mainstream-ish comics… but for now I need to go to sleep.  I’ve got deadlines and our first full week of school to worry about.

I’ll post more soon!

(The image below is fan art I drew because I’m excited about this project– it’s not a scene from the comic or anything.  Although an Aang/Monkey King team-up would be sooo cool.)

Enter the Conversation...

41 Responses to “I’m writing the new Avatar: The Last Airbender Comic!”

    I am definitely pre-ordering it!!!

    I’ve been a supporter of racebending.com from the beginning!!

  2. Avatar_Mom says:

    We are very excited for you, and for the future of these graphic novels. Giggle away Sir, giggle away :)

  3. KiKi Mokina says:

    That’s craaazzy aweesome. I’m squealing too. :D

  4. Greg Willits says:

    Woo hoo! Ok, now I’ll finally break down and check out this show. I’ve been putting it off, but now that your involvement is there, I’m out of excuses.

  5. Charlotte says:

    Congratulations! Sounds like a match made in monkey heaven :) . Looking forward to reading it!

  6. Laur says:

    That’s unbelievably awesome!!! Congratulations and I can’t wait to have this book in my hands! :D Weee!

  7. I only just learned of your existence with this announcement, but what I’ve heard has given me high hopes. If you need an ATLA continuity-obsessed nerd to give any scripts a read, feel free to ring me. ;)

  8. Michael C says:

    So wait. You’re writing the official Avatar continuation comics…and you made a comic telling people not to see the godawful movie? This. Is. Amazing. Best of luck sir, I eagerly anticipate the finished product.

  9. Drea C says:

    Congrats! Can’t wait to read it! I know it going so freaking awesome! I’m giggling right with you! :D

  10. Adam Johnson says:

    So looking forward to it, can’t wait to see what awesome stuff you got in it.

  11. julie says:

    oh hell yea. on all counts XD

  12. gene says:

    Thanks, everyone! I’m super-excited (SUPER-EXCITED) about this project. It was great timing. I’m on the tail end of a graphic novel about China in the 1800′s that I’ve been working on for years and years. (I’ve posted some of the model sheets on my online sketchbook http://geneyang.com/tag/sketchbook) I was able to use a little bit of that research on this project, especially for the Earth Kingdom and Ba Sing Se.

  13. Dora says:

    As a fan of both you and A:TLA, I’m super excited! Congratulations!

  14. Nick Marino says:

    YAY!!!!!!! Great news :)

  15. Anson Jew says:

    They couldn’t have picked a better man for the job! Congratulations!

  16. Anson Jew says:

    GENE: What does Aang look like?
    BRETT: White?
    GENE: What country are you from?
    BRETT: White? White? Wh-?
    GENE: “White” ain’t no country I’ve ever heard of. They speak English in White?
    BRETT: White?
    GENE: English, motherpucker, do you speak it?
    BRETT: Yes! Yes!
    GENE: Then you know what I’m sayin’!
    BRETT: Yes!
    GENE: Describe what Aang looks like!
    BRETT: White?
    GENE: Say ‘white’ again. Say ‘white’ again, I dare you, I double dare you motherpucker, say white one more Goshdarn time!

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

  17. Colin says:

    Congrats!! Really looking forward to the continuing adventures of Aang & Co.

  18. dave roman says:

    I also used to giggle and smile ear to ear whenever I’d get pencils back from Gurihiru. They really know how to make comics fun! Can’t wait to see what you guys are cooking up!

    • gene says:

      Dave, your cookie dough bender story in The Lost Adventures is my son’s absolute favorite. He reads it over and over and over again, laughing every time.

  19. Melissa says:

    I’m pretty new to this info, and that’s only because I got into this AMAZING series last year, before the movie came out, but WOW. I am seriously excited for this. The Legend Of Korra is going to be amazing enough, but more info about my favorite characters and story? Even more awesome! The ending of the series was as epic as I’d hoped, with a few minor things bugging me, but if this continues where season 3 left off, I have no doubt that I’m going to love it.

    THANK you for advising people against that abomination of a movie, by the way! :) You are awesome. Hahahaha. That film was horrendous. I hope someone who actually appreciates the story remakes that movie one day, because all it did was wreck a truly remarkable show. :(

    Anyway, highly looking forward to this, and it’s nice to see you’re so excited about it. :D

  20. AJ says:

    Well, good luck on the project. I’m sure it’ll turn out great in the long run. (I will be honest. I’m saddened Aang looks more prepubescent than he did on the show. If there’s any ‘Kataang’ scenes in the comic, it’ll appear Katara’s hooking up with an 8-year-old. There. I said it. I’ll shut up now.)

    *I once thought of the Monkey King having a role in the Avatarverse. The whole idea sprung up in my head when “The Forbidden Kingdom” came out – about two months before ATLA had its series finale.

    • gene says:

      Hey Bert, I can see what you’re saying… but don’t worry. I think the cover looks awesome, but the foreshortening on Aang does obscure his (slightly) more grown-up physique. In my mind, he will always have a young-looking face. (He is, after all, Asian. ;) )

      About the Monkey King and the Avatar… There already is a mystical monkey in the Avatarverse. (He shows up in Seige of the North.) I’ve always liked that guy… not sure if he had a name, though.

      • Skemono says:

        According to the Avatar wiki, his name is Enma, though I don’t know where they got that from:

        Anyway, congratulations, sir!

        • gene says:

          Awesome! Thanks, Skemono!

          • Weird, I’ve never seen a name attached to that character, and the credits on the DVD version said Mark Hamill did the voice.

            Take the ATLA Wiki with a grain of salt. It’s very helpful for reminders, but not so good for research that can’t be verified elsewhere.

            (While I’m here, I thought I’d share that I just read “American Born Chinese,” and I’m *quite* impressed. I’m ready to finally look up a version of “Journey to the West” just based on how impressed I was by the way the Monkey King was presented.)

          • gene says:

            Thanks, Louis! And thanks for reading ABC! The Journey to the West is an amazing (AMAZING) story. I’ve loved it since I was a kid.

            You’re the second person I’ve heard that Avatarwiki advice from. Good to know.

  21. Kim says:


  22. BlackRose108 says:

    I’m so happy to see that the writer is a true avatar fan! It gives me hope that this continuation really will be what the fans want…cause I know I want it!!!!!!!

    I’ve only seen the cover and I’m already speculating on all the awesome stuff that could possibly go on. Oh, why must we wait until january for the continuation (and the kataang >.>)? Oh well, I suppose knowing it’s coming is better than nothing at all.

    But, seriously good luck and seeing you so excited for this makes me even more excited than I already was! And, you know, if you wanna share any spoilers, that’s cool too. *cough, cough* who said that?

  23. SSerenity020 says:

    I’ll wait for the French version (if ever there will be one) but I’m really happy to hear this good news!

  24. Johane Matte says:

    I was very happy to learn you got the writing gig! You and GuriHiru teaming up? Sounds like the perfect team-up! Couldn’t have had a better announcement to make me anticipate this title more. Congrats! Will be pre-ordering and settle down for a few months wait.

    • gene says:

      Great to hear from you, Johane! Relics was probably my favorite story in Lost Adventures. (Though there were so many great ones…) To go from action to humor to longing in just a short sequence of pages– Kudos!

  25. Somariel says:

    Awesome! I can’t wait for the comic to come out. I’m so happy that it’s being written by a fan of the show.

  26. Irene says:

    You rock! I’m sure that will have a very big succes!!
    I hope to see that someday in Spain :)

  27. precious says:

    it will be a very big and huge thing. i really can’t wait for it .
    my fingers are crossed………….

  28. andrewwales says:

    This is awesome! And you are still teaching. I don’t know how you do it.

  29. Shaun says:

    Hey Gene,

    How did you get involved in writing the Avatar book? I wrote a little story a link on my website about and I’d love for someone even connected to Avatar to check it out and it would be even greater to submit to an anthology.


  30. Sean Robert Meaney says:

    Book 4: Air needs to be animated.

    Sokka cast a shadow over a Bloated Momo who now lay in an empty bowl of what was previously a bowl filled with candied fruits meant for Suki.
    “Momo, we need to talk.” The Flying Lemur caught the word Momo which usually meant they were referring to him personally…the rest was just the usual noise coming from the one friend who almost always had a supply of easily accessed food. Momo licked the sugar from his paw and closed his eyes. His friend would carry him to safety if there was any kind of problem.
    Something touched his belly. Momo opened his eyes to find the favoured female that his friend now associated with was poking his belly.
    “You ate my candied fruits…” She seemed annoyed at something. Momo couldn’t comprehend what she was on about. This one rarely had food for him but when she did she seemed nice enough.
    “Come away from him Suki…He just doesn’t get it.” Momo’s friend with food was lying on the bed across the room surrounded by flowers.
    Momo Sneezed.
    “Sokka. We don’t have that much time…Your Sister is marrying the Avatar…TODAY.” Sokka hissed at the suggestion.
    “Please! I can be ready like that…we have plenty of time.” Suki gave Sokka the ‘you ate my candied fruits’ look.
    “Suki?” The fear in the voice of Sokka echoed through the door of their room and caught Zuko only momentarily as he passed by on the way to speak with Avatar Aang.
    Zuko stopped at the open door. Aang was meditating on the floor, his marriage robes awaiting the end of his wayward life.
    “Might I speak with you Aang?” At the acknowledgement of his presence by the Avatar, Zuko entered Aang’s Bedchamber un-distracted by Sokka’s distant Scream, closing the door behind him.

    There is no way a comic can cover what needs to be told…

  31. lea says:

    what happened to zucos mom please tell me im gonna kill myself if you dont tell me, please !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. Dear Gene,

    It was great meeting you! We are definitely new fans! Thank you for inspiring the next generation filling them with imagination and creativity. Keep up the great work and continue to do yo’ thang!

    SEACHAMPA crew

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