GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Some Greasy Kids Stuff
Today I’ve got three books that either are for kids or look like they should be, so, if any of you are allergic to greasy kids stuff, just move on to the next post.
[[[Dinosaurs Across America]]] is the new book by Phil Yeh, who has spent the last two decades promoting literacy and art across the world in various ways, including lots of comics. In fact, this book was originally a black-and-white comic that was sold at various Yeh events. It’s a quick look at all fifty states in the US, with a concentration on quick facts and learning all of the capitals. One of Yeh’s recurring characters, Patrick Rabbit, has been suckered, and a group of dinosaurs (also recurring Yeh characters) set him straight on the real facts. There’s no real story here, but it’s a great book for kids interested in state capitals or geography in general. (Or even for kids who aren’t interested in that, but need to learn some of it.)
[[[Korgi]]], Book 1 is the first in what’s planned to be a series of all-ages wordless comics stories. It’s by Christian Slade, and seems to be his first major comics work. It’s cute and fun and adventurous by turns, though the wordlessness doesn’t always help with a fantasy story like this. (The dogs, such as Korgi, are obvious Special somehow, but it’s hard to convey the specifics of something like that without words.) This is perhaps pitched a bit older than Andy Runton’s [[[Owly]]] books – also wordless comics stories from Top Shelf for all ages – simply because there’s more action and suspense in Korgi. (There’s certainly nothing here I’d worry about giving to my six-year-old.) Slade uses a lot of scribbly lines for shading and tones, and – especially after reading James Sturm’s America recently – that looks a bit amateur to me. Slade is very good at it, but it does leave an impression of lots and lots of little lines all over the page; it would be interesting to see him use other ways of showing tone and shading, and concentrate on drawing just a few, bolder, stronger lines. Or maybe not; he gets some great effects with his many lines, creating clouds and rocks and monsters that come to vivid life on the page.
Last in this round-up is [[[Incredible Change-Bots]]] by Jeffrey Brown, which looks like it’s for kids but might not be appropriate for some younger ones. Brown is best known (to me, at least) as the author of autobiographical books about his relationships like [[[Clumsy]]] and [[[Unlikely]]], so this switch to Transformers pastiche/homage is a bit odd. And that’s what this is: a retelling of the story of Transformers with all of the names changed and a few bits of meta-commentary added in. I’m not a big enough [[[Transformers]]] fan to explain where and how Brown’s “Awesomebots” and “Fantasticons” differ from the canonical Autobots and Decepticons, but the story seems pretty similar. The two groups battle on their homeworld (Electronocybercircuitrton), use up all the energy there, and flee in a spaceship to a new world. They crash-land on Earth, make human allies, and fight. In the end, the survivors make peace, take a new energy source, and head back into space. It’s all pretty pointless, but I suppose Brown just wants to retell a favorite story of his youth in his own way. And that’s the real audience for a book like this: Transformers fans in their twenties and thirties. Kids might like parts of it, and there’s only a couple of references that might be out of line for younger kids, but it’s really not a book aimed at or including kids.
Dinosaurs Across America
NBM, 2007, $12.95
Korgi, Book 1
Top Shelf, 2007, $10.00
Top Shelf, 2007, $15.00