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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sports Illustrated Kids: Then and Now

It’s funny how things come full circle sometimes: When I was a kid, I was a huge sports fan (still am, actually). Maybe it was my love of the local sports teams, or certain players. Or my obsession with baseball card collecting. Or, maybe it was the simple fact that I loved to draw sports team logos in my notebooks at school (imagine that). Whatever the case, my appetite for sports was insatiable. So, it was no surprise that when my mom found out about the inception of Sports Illustrated Kids magazine, she signed me up for a subscription immediately. The premiere issue arrived in our mailbox around my birthday back in 1989, and I couldn’t have been more excited (Michael Jordan!!):

Now, 20 years later, Sports Illustrated Kids is still going strong and celebrating a big anniversary. And, though my subscription ended long ago, I happened to run into SI Kids again–at work.

For the past 6 months or so, I’ve been working with Sports Illustrated Kids to create a brand new and exciting way to deliver sports fiction to an ever-changing world of sports-hungry kids: sports graphic novels. Since Stone Arch Books specializes in graphic novels, it was no shock that SI Kids came knocking when they decided to branch out into additional markets, especially the school library market. The concept we came up with was a no-brainer: let’s create fast-paced stories about everyday kids in interesting sports situations and combine them with superhero comic-caliber artwork. Sprinkle in some character-driven “sports broadcast” narrative and some stats, and we had something that hasn’t been done before...in any market. These books are sure to appeal to the most reluctant readers, and keep them coming back for more. Six hot, new titles (with topics ranging from football to paintball) will be available soon. Check out the cover and a sample spread from Point-Blank Paintball:

As we move forward with this innovative series (more seasons are on the way), I’ve already learned something very interesting about the artists who illustrate our Sports Illustrated Kids Graphic Novels: many of them actually play the sports that they are illustrating! The best example is Gerardo Sandoval, who is currently working on our upcoming soccer title. He told me in an email that he plays soccer consistently, mostly as a goalkeeper. Even though we (Stone Arch and Sports Illustrated Kids) make extra sure that every sports detail is accurate, it’s nice to know that we can count on our illustrators to do their homework and produce the highest level of sports action for the printed page. I can’t imagine any better research than playing the sport in real life!

Look for Sports Illustrated Kids Graphic Novels in January–only from Stone Arch Books!

Bob Lentz
Art Director
Stone Arch Books

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