Eisner Award-nominated author-illustrator Jason Walz has sold his new YA graphic novel, The Flipside, which explores grief, depression, and mental health, packaged as a thriller, to Lauri Hornik at Rocky Pond Books. The pain and sadness of losing his best friend to cancer has turned Theo’s world upside down. Literally. Now he just needs to figure out how to not fall off the face of the planet along with everything else.
Jason Walz tells Bleeding Cool “I lost my best friend, Kris, to pancreatic cancer a few years ago. Over the decades that we knew each other, we made a handful of movies, wrote and drew countless comics, and in general spent our time together talking about what we would create next. I still miss him more than I ever imagined I would. At the risk of sounding petty, I’m not sure that other people truly understand that specific type of pain. There are “rules” for comforting someone that has lost a parent, child, or sibling, but I’m not sure that many people understand the pain that lingers when we lose a friend. During his last year alive, Kris wrote a short story entitled “Rooted” about a world that had turned upside down and about a father trying to keep his kids alive in the aftermath. with it someday.Once he died, I understood that hi His story needed to remain his story of him, but that a world turned upside down had become very personal to me, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. My debut graphic novel, Homesick (Eisner nominated, 2014), had already dealt with grief related to death, but I now have the opportunity to tell a story about loss for a younger audience. This is a story that honors the pain that many young people carry with them when death suddenly fills their world. This is my story for them, and it is my story for Kris.
Publication of The Flipside is slated for autumn 2024 and Jason Walz’s agent Elena Giovinazzo at Pippin Properties brokered the deal for world English rights.
Rocky Pond Books, helmed by Lauri Hornik, longtime publisher of Dial Books for Young Readers, is a Penguin imprint that publishes books for two through teen, both fiction and nonfiction, with a focus on mental health and social-emotional learning and on seeking out debut authors and illustrators. Lauri Hornik said, “It has become more and more important to me to provide books that offer comfort and support. That comfort might be through a belly laugh or a gorgeous, genuine expression of what it means to be human, or seeing yourself and your culture depicted on the page.That support might be through a picture book that sparks empathy, or an inspiring nonfiction read about a hero or important moment in history.And above all, I am committed to publishing mental health content – books that start conversations, that provide a step toward healing, and that show readers they aren’t alone. I’m so excited to now be dedicating myself full-time to editing, and thus bringing more of these much-needed books to kids and teens.”