Before the Star Wars prequels began in 1999, fans depended on novels and other print media like 1987's Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game to expand the storyline of the original trilogy. Even though much of those novelizations are no longer “canon,” those early books were how fans kept hope alive. The same thing may be happening with the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe.
In a packed-to-the gills panel Friday at New York City Comic Con, fans were absolutely ravenous for any new Avatar-based content. When asked how many read the Abrams Books-published Avatar: The Last Airbender Kyoshi novels, few raised their hands. The same ragged few had played an early version of Magpie games’ still-unreleased Avatar: Legends roleplaying game. Then when asked how many have read Dark Horse Comics’ continuation of the ATLA storyline, more than two thirds of the crowd practically jumped out of their seats.
Avatar first premiered more than 17 years ago, something that publishers for the latest ATLA content seem to acknowledge, at least to some extent. Though there is a new live action show on the horizon and promises of even more Avatar content in the future, currently any fan jonesing for new stories will have to turn to print media. More books are coming that will expand the story of the universe past the ending of Avatar: The Legend of Korra and in the centuries before centered on the “masters of all four elements” from centuries past.
Though the show had centered on children and teens trying to reform an unjust society, novels like F.C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi and now his upcoming story of avatar Yangchen, Dawn of Yangchen, are meant to offer even more goodness for diehard fans. There’s also the upcoming graphic novel the Legend of Korra: Patterns in Time releasing Nov. 29 that includes a few short stories that take place after the previously published Turf Wars and Ruins in Empire. The upcoming Azula in the Spirit Temple, originally announced at San Diego Comic-Con, is set to “possibly redeem” one of the main villains of ATLA. The comic is being written by Faith Erin Hicks and illustrated by Peter Wartman.
And of course there’s the RPG published by Magpie Games that earlier this year became the most-funded tabletop RPG on Kickstarter. The Kickstarted version is expected to start shipping in November, and the book should be up for full retail by January 25, with preorders set to start October 12. Brendan Conway, the co-owner of Magpie Games, also announced the company is creating a starter set for the RPG containing slimmed-down rules and player aids, as well as an official online toolkit that should have more details within the week.
All these publishers have continued the stories of Avatar, but the number of total offerings seems like slim pickings considering the original show premiered so long ago. Cara O’Neil, the head of marketing at Dark Horse, said that Avatar Studios—which is headed by series creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino—remain involved, and though there are few stories, “every story is vetted, and we’re looking more for ‘content added.’” Otherwise, the upcoming comics are just “some” of the upcoming Avatar content, and there should be more on the horizon.
When asked if the print stories of the Avatar-verse would be the horns on the bull for expanding the timeline both backwards and forwards, O’Neil said “that’s been the case so far in expanding the world… I can’t speak to what they’re doing with the show or what they’re doing with Avatar Studios, but I think that’s safe to say, our comics and novels will continue to expand outside that story.”
Creators Konietzko and DiMartino mentioned they have plans for more projects that will expand on Avatar’s past and future, but other than the live-action show nothing has been revealed about any other projects, according to the Braving the Elements podcast. Otherwise, creators said they won’t be stepping on the book’s toes and don’t plan to adapt any printed material into TV or movie content.
Update 10/10/22 at 11:00 a.m. ET: This article was updated to correct the artist name for Azula in The Spirit Temple.
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