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Dick Grayson's circus days come alive in DC's 'The Lost Carnival' graphic novel

By Jeff Spry
lost carnival

Without a doubt, the character of Dick Grayson is one of the cornerstones of the DC Universe. The teenage trapeze artist who eventually becomes Robin the Boy Wonder, and later Nightwing, is an inextricable component of the Batman mythology since first arriving in Detective Comics #38 in 1940.

Celebrating Robin's 80th anniversary this year, and hoping to shine a light on Grayson's formative years before tragedy struck his family, The Lost Carnival (May 5) is a rich YA graphic novel that explores the fearless athlete's summertime performances as a member of Haly's Circus — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive peek inside.

Written by bestselling author Michael Moreci (Roche Limit, The Plot, Star Wars Adventures: The Clone Wars) and accented with heartwarming artwork from Sas Milledge complemented by vintage pastel colors courtesy of David Calderon, this refreshing slice-of-life recalls some of the best tales of Ray Bradbury.

The Lost Carnival Cover

Haly's traveling circus no longer has the allure of its successful past, but it still has one star attraction: the Flying Graysons, a close-knit family of talented trapeze artists starring teen sensation Dick Grayson. The only issue is that Dick hates spending summers performing worn-out routines for slim crowds.

When the Lost Carnival, a bright and bewitching new attraction, opens nearby and threatens to siphon off Haly's remaining customers, Dick is among those lured to its mystic nighttime glow. But there are ancient forces at work at the Lost Carnival, so when Dick meets the mysterious Luciana and her crew of weird carnival workers, he may be too enchanted to recognize danger.

Beneath the carnival's cascade of fireworks, Dick must decide who he wants to be, ultimately choosing between family loyalty and a glittering future with new companions and a budding romance.

robin slice 1

"For Dick, I think the biggest angle for me was to explore his life before losing his parents," Moreci tells SYFY WIRE. "We never really get to see Dick existing outside of this event, and I always wanted to see what he was like before he lost his parents. There's so much more to Dick than this tragedy, unlike Bruce, who's completely defined by his identical tragedy, and I wanted to figure out what his life was like at this point. 

"Some of the research is from my life — I am a former carnie! And no, I'm not kidding. I used to work at carnivals in the summertime. Worst job: making onion blossoms. That stink sticks to you for days. But I also had great carnival stories in mind, like The Night Circus or HBO's lost gem, Carnivàle. And, of course, Something Wicked This Way Comes. Then I'd go down the research rabbit hole, trying to really get a historically accurate feel for carnivals, as they were back in their prime." 

Carnival 1

Moreci has great admiration for his entire creative team, including Sas Milledge's nostalgic art style and David Calderon's retro colors that practically allow you to smell the sawdust, popcorn, and Cracker Jacks.

"Sas's and David's work is so very, very right in every way. It's perfect for the story and these characters, and the life and vibrancy they bring to every single page is nothing short of breathtaking," he reveals. "This is a book people are going to want on their shelves just so they can pick it up, thumb through it, and feel inspired. The artwork is that good."

Carnival 2

Now step right up and enjoy our eight-page preview of DC Comics' The Lost Carnival: A Dick Grayson Graphic Novel in the full gallery below and give yourself over to its old-fashioned charms and romanticism.