KCU Pitchfest 2023 Honorees!

A BIG CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR HONOREES!! Our judges reviewed 96 submissions this round. A total of seven placed, with a surprising triple tie in fourth place!

Without further ado, we are so excited to announce our honorees! Click on the title or image to view the full pitch.

1st place: Retrograde
by Elizabeth Pérez

Brought back together by the death of a childhood friend, a gang of former kid sleuths revisit the seemingly-simple mysteries of their childhoods, after realizing that they were never fully solved.

The once-close crew are now teens, and their classic group dynamic has changed dramatically since they parted ways. The newly reacquainted gang must find out what actually happened all those years ago, and more importantly figure out how to stop it from happening again. (YA)

2nd place: So Much Potential
by Deborah Tyson

School has never been easy for 11-year-old budding artist Daisy, who is adjusting to her mom’s recent marriage and new baby brother. With all the extra homework in 6th grade, she can’t keep up! Or maybe she would just rather retreat into her fantasy world or draw pictures. Nearing the end of the year, her teacher, parents, and even her friends are frustrated with Daisy – and she won’t pass her English class until she turns in her illustrated short story project.

“So Much Potential” is about Daisy’s struggles with undiagnosed ADHD and how it affects her schoolwork and relationships. It is about overcoming obstacles, learning to empathize with others, and self-actualization. (MG)

3rd place: Fiction Quest: Imagination Lost
by Daniel Allen Stevens

Fiction Quest is a mix of Stuntboy and Marvel’s, Spiderverse. It’s about an 11-year-old comic geek with slight anxiety issues, who finds out it’s up to him, to save all of Imagination, from a mysterious foe.

A devastating move from Long Island to Brooklyn leads to Jay making new friends on his block. Then an emotional outburst has Jay tap into power he’s unaware of, which transports the kids to a new world. It’s here where Jay and the lost kids find out that Jay is the Fiction Keeper and the protector of the Fictionverse (Worlds created with human imagination). Someone is stealing imagination and that could lead to the end of all worlds. The kids proceed to hop from world to world in an attempt to stop the imagination thief. (MG)

4th place (tied): Almost Asian
by Maggie Shang

In this semi-autobiographical YA graphic novel, Ava Song, a half Chinese, half white 18 year old girl leaves her family and home in Beijing to pursue her dream of studying illustration in America. However she quickly discovers her new peers, like her roommate Courtney Price, dismiss and doubt she’s Asian at all when she’s also half white and has tan skin. But she finds solace in her new friends Harlow Lim and Mengchun Hu. Together they create a new type of home and support Ava while she finds her artistic voice, and learns to embrace and stand up for her dual cultural identity. (YA)

4th place (tied): Noemi the Forest Witch
by Michelle Mullen

When a strange sickness threatens the forest she protects, 10-year-old witch Noemi suspects that the pollution in the nearby river might be the cause. She ventures out of her comfort zone with her crow companion, Corvin, to figure out how to stop it. With the help of Alix, a nonbinary kid from the city, Noemi must go toe-to-toe with an influential mega corporation whose leaders refuse to admit to poisoning the environment. Noemi must overcome her anxiety and find the courage to use her dwindling magic powers to save the forest before it’s too late.

NOEMI THE FOREST WITCH is written for ages 9-12 and features themes of environmentalism wrapped up in an adventure-filled story full of magical realism. (MG)

4th place (tied): What Now?
by Tak Toyoshima

Set in NYC’s Chinatown during the mid 1980’s, middle school student Osamu “Sam” Takahashi navigates through his transition out of childhood into his early teens facing challenges that seem even more perilous than the crime ridden streets he calls his playground.

Like most young teens, Sam wants more control over his life. But during a time when he is wanting more independence from parents, coping with the evolution of his friendships, experimenting with identity, drifting apart from his older brother, avoiding recruitment by Chinese gangs, experiencing his first date, learning his family history in Japan during WWII, and testing to get into one of the top high schools in the country, (inhale) control seems to be the last thing Sam has. (MG)

5th place: Wherever You Are
by Kieran Teare-Thomas

Dara’s sister Anya disappeared eight months ago, leaving Dara depressed and disconnected. Then, a door opens to another world where Anya might be found. As Dara searches the other world and evades a creature intent on cutting her connection to Earth, she struggles to engage in her life back at home, pushing away her friends and family. Time passes faster in the other world and when Dara finally finds her sibling, he has transitioned from female to male and started a new life. Dara must learn to accept that her loved one has changed, and to eventually let him go when the creature catches up to her and she must return to Earth permanently.

Wherever You Are is about searching for a lost sibling, coping with grief, and accepting change. (YA)

You can view the top 50 here: https://kidscomicsunite.com/kcu-pitchfest-showcase-2023/
View all 96 submissions here: https://kidscomicsunite.com/kids-comics-pitchfest-2023/

What’s next?

Industry Announcement Goes Out on November 8-9th, 2023

Our primary goal with this competition is to help emerging talent gain exposure.

So we will send an announcement about the 2023 Pitchfest Gallery to hundreds of agents, editors, and art directors across the industry.

If you hear from an industry pro about your work, yay!! Keep us posted.

You can help us spread the word around that time by linking to the gallery on your social media accounts or blog and using the hashtag #kcupitchfest. Feel free to @ us and we will try to repost. Let’s make a wave!

We Owe Many Thanks to Many People!

Judges THANK YOU for the herculean task of reviewing all the pitches and submitting their votes in a timely manner. You can view our esteemed panel of judges here.

Writers and artists who submitted a pitch- YOU DID IT! Thank you for submitting your work. Whether you were a “winner” or not is not the most important thing. The fact that you worked so hard on your pitch and took the (sometimes scary!) step of submitting it is the real win.

Storytelling, sequential art, and publishing… none of these endeavors are easy. Not in the least. And in submitting to Pitchfest, you’re working on all three of these very challenging things!

Every step you take is another way to learn and improve. We can’t wait to see you continuing on that path.

About Janna Morishima

Janna Morishima is the founder of Kids Comics Unite and a literary agent who specializes in graphic novels and visual storytelling. She started her publishing career at Scholastic, where she was one of the co-founders of the Graphix imprint. She then became director of the Kids Group for Diamond Book Distributors, where she worked with publishers such as Marvel, Dark Horse, and Oni Press, and helped launch Françoise Mouly’s Toon Books imprint. In addition to her background in publishing, she has worked as an associate producer for documentary films, and as an assistant teacher in a kindergarten and a teacher in a high school for teens in the juvenile justice system. She later launched and ran the NYC Department of Education’s “NYC Reads 365” literacy initiative.

One thought on “KCU Pitchfest 2023 Honorees!

  1. Congratulations to all the honorees! 🎉🥳

    The results are truly exceptional. The entries have earned their well-deserved place in the spotlight, showcasing the immense talent and dedication within the graphic novel community.

    What’s even more remarkable is KCU highlighting the incredible level of competition and the outstanding quality of your work. This achievement is a testament to your hard work, creativity, and perseverance.

    I am very proud of all the honorees and their exceptional accomplishments. Your dedication and passion shine through in your submissions, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll achieve in the future! Once again, congratulations to all the winners, and thank you for being a part of this incredible community of talent and creativity. 🌟🏆🌟

    All the best,


    Mark Gottlieb | Vice President and Literary Agent | Trident Media Group | mgottlieb@tridentmediagroup.com
    355 Lexington Avenue, Floor 12 | New York, NY 10017 | (212) 333-1506 | tridentmediagroup.com

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