The Last Airbender Manga from Del Rey and Nickelodeon

Del Rey Manga, an imprint of Ballantine Books at the Random House Publishing Group and Nickelodeon/Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP) announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego, four new manga style releases – an artistic and storytelling stylized comic book  set in black and white. Based on Nickelodeon’s international hit animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender and the upcoming feature film release “The Last Airbender,” directed by M. Night Shyamalan, this partnership marks the first manga tie-in for Nickelodeon.

The two original black-and-white manga will be written by Dave Roman (Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden, Agnes Quill). The prequel manga, scheduled for publication in April 2009, will be illustrated by Nina Matsumoto (Yokaiden) and the movie adaptation, to be published in June 2010, will be illustrated by Joon Choi (This is Pop).

“We’re excited to partner with Del Rey on these upcoming manga releases,” said Paula Allen, SVP of Nickelodeon Global Publishing. “Recreating and adapting the layered storylines and incredible, animated martial arts of the Avatar series and upcoming feature film in the manga style will allow fans to experience their favorite moment from the show over and over again.”

The Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series and The Last Airbender live-action movie follow the epic journey of Aang, the Avatar. In an ancient world where armies of the four elements—fire, earth, water, and air—are constantly at war, the Avatar, a master of the elements, is meant to restore peace and order. Aang is the newest reincarnation of the Avatar, and is also the last airbender, harnessing the power of air and wind. Freed from a century-long sleep inside an iceberg, the 12-year-old is responsible for saving the world and finds both friends and hostile enemies on the path to his destiny.

“We’re excited to be working with Nickelodeon to bring these great stories to the manga audience,” says Dallas Middaugh, Associate Publisher of Del Rey Manga. “Avatar: The Last Airbender has shown incredible crossover appeal with manga fans. The release of The Last Airbender movie and original tie-in manga gives us the chance to share completely new stories with Avatar fans looking for more about Aang, Zuko, and their favorite characters.”


Dave Roman currently works for Nickelodeon Magazine as an associate editor. The co-creator of the Harvey Award-nominated series Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden and the Ignatz award-winning Teen Boat, he also pens his own webcomic, Astronaut Elementary. Roman, based in New York, is also the creator of the comic Agnes Quill, and he co-wrote Del Rey Manga and Marvel Comics’ X-Men: Misfits with his wife, Raina Telgemeier.

Nina Matsumoto is the creator of the original English-language manga series, Yokaiden, which debuted in November 2008. Matsumoto gained notoriety on the internet for her original piece, “The Simpsonzu,” a manga-inspired illustration of the characters of The Simpsons cartoon. She is a penciller with Bongo Comics, home of The Simpsons comics, and lives in western Canada.

Joon Choi is the art director at Studio Joon Toon and an Animator at This is Pop, he is also an illustrator and animator whose work has been seen on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Gameloft.


    • “The Japanese term for comic book. In Japan, manga are targeted at all age groups and cover a wide range of genres. This is in contrast to Western comics which are typically based around superhero themes.”

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