Kids Comics Pitchfest Showcase
Comics creators from around the world submit their unpublished projects to be previewed online by editors and agents. A panel of judges (click here to see the juror list) select the top pitches. Projects are archived here so that industry pros may view them and discover new talent.
The Escape Artist
Rory, a shy middle-schooler, wants to stay out of her show-biz family’s spotlight and blend in. So when Rory’s parents land a gig at an old theater, Rory’s plan is to lay low. But backstage, Rory spots a ghostly dog. Two child actors tell Rory the theater is haunted; the three girls follow the dog and unearth the theater's dark past. In the 1920s, the theater was the site of anti-semitic violence committed by the KKK. A monster nests in the theater, feeding off acts of human hate; and the creature has compelled Rory’s mother to start a fire in the building. Rory frees her mother from the monster’s spell: the theater is saved. “Coraline” meets “Stranger Things” as Rory battles supernatural evil and discovers found family with new friends.
Age Range:Middle Grade
Genre:Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror/Scary, Science Fiction
Page Count Estimate:260
“The Escape Artist” is a ghost story, but the Northeast really was a Klan hotbed in the 1920s. Upstate NY hosted the country’s only persecution of Jews for Blood Libel in 1928. I grew up in New England, but never knew I lived in a former sundown town: the adults around me either didn’t know, or didn’t want to know. Being Jewish and growing up in a family that hid its secrets, I know how important it is to be honest about our shared past. Hiding the truth doesn’t make the monsters go away: it just nurtures them. Rory and her friends find darkness at the Palace Theater, but they exhume the past and vanquish the monster. I seek to inspire readers to be as brave and honest as Rory and her friends as they face the truth and let the sunshine in.
Jenny Mannis is a costume designer turned author-illustrator. With over a decade of experience in professional theater, Jenny is an accomplished visual storyteller and imaginative world builder. She holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama and is a member of SCBWI and Kids Comics Unite. When she’s not plotting the next two books in the Escape Artist series, Jenny can be found binge-watching shows like The Owl House and Lovecraft County. She is still afraid of the monsters in the basement.