11 September 2012

11 September 2012–No Review this week, just news


So, I’ve been crazy busy the past couple of days, and haven’t been able to review anything properly. However, I’m not leaving you empty-handed.

First off, 11 years ago, the face of America was changed forever when the twin towers were hit by terrorists. I like to think that we’re stronger as a nation and many signs point towards that. Stay strong America!

Heads up folks! My Favorite Martian Monkey is coming down to the deadline! we have five (Count ‘Em –5!) days to go until it closes and Steve can start the hard, arduous process of actually printing everything out. He’s got a killer stretch goal (Below):

If he hits $6,000 before the kickstarter closes, he will send out this exclusive poster, illustrated by 20 other artist friends of his! The great part is, at the time of this writing, he’s only $850 away from hitting that goal! If you haven’t contributed yet, please do so, it’s an awesome book, and well worth it! (Steve, I’m really sorry about squishing the bejezus out of the image)

The Secret of the Stone Frog dropped to stores today. A Fantastical combination of Little Nemo and Alice in Wonderland, it’s a beautiful book (link to review in the title).

The Monkey King Vol. 2 Library Binding dropped yesterday. This is the second book in a 20 book series that retells The Journey to the West, one of the four classic pillars of Chinese Literature. The artwork is absolutely amazing, and you have to check it out.

Jeremy Whitley of Princeless fame is busy working on a collection of Princeless short stories. He announced artists over at his Tumblr site. Go check it out, and if you haven’t read Princeless yet, strike yourself around the head and neck viciously and then go to your local comic book dealer/book store/amazon enabled computer and buy yourself a copy. After the bruises go down, you’ll thank me.

Lot’s of books lined up for upcoming review, including My Boyfriend is a Monster #6: Wrapped Up In You, A graphic novel adaptation of The Little Prince, and a retelling of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol that not only flips the character of Scrooge on its head, but is so visually arresting, it will take your breath away.

On a side note, I am putting together presentations regarding the use of graphic novels in the classroom, as well as book talks of graphic novels for elementary, middle, high schools and colleges. If you’re interested, please contact me and we can discuss specifics.

04 September 2012

4 September 2012–Viz-ualizing a second half


Alright… so, picking up from where we left off…


Mr. Men & Little Miss Series

Little-Miss-Sunshinelittle miss daredevilmr bump

Images Courtesy Viz Media

Written by: John Hardman, Michael Daedalus Kenny, Illustrated by: Matthew Britton, Victoria Maderna, Bryan Beach

Viz Media, 2012

ISBN(s): 978-1-42154-072-6, 978-1-42154-071-9, 978-1-42154-074-0 (PB)

$6.99, Ages 6+


The funny Mr. Men and Little Miss have been around since the early 80s, teaching gentle stories about proper manners and behaviors to kids off all stripes. In the New Millennium, they made the transition from print to television, starring in a wildly popular television series based off of the original works. Now, The characters are getting their own books, broken up into chapters, detailing a day in the life of a specific character.


If you’ve ever watched the television show, this will be pretty familiar, as the books follow the same sort of template for the most part. However, each book is geared towards a specific member of Dillydale. Other characters abound throughout the book, so everyone gets a pretty fair shake at on page time. Little Miss Sunshine spends the day leading the inhabitants of Dillydale on a singing tour of the town after finding a bus on her front lawn, riding horses with her friends, and judging the “Dillydale’s Got Talent!” show with Mr. Fussy and Mr. Rude. Little Miss Daredevil finds herself competing in “The Incredible Race” that leads her and the other contestants across Dillydale, into outerspace, and across time itself, and Mr. Bump spends an accident prone day trying to escape from the different channels in his television after a strange turn of events that suck him into his appliance.

Final Thoughts

Mr. Men and Little Miss has never really been a series to cause contention (with perhaps the exception of Mr. Rude, who, as his name implies, is rather rude), and the message that the characters pass along is one that we’re all different, and that’s quite alright. In all honestly, aside from the occasional fart joke (courtesy of Mr. Rude), Mr. Bump’s semi-constant refrain of “poopity-poop”, and Mr. Messy’s mentioning of something called “sock cheese” these books would probably right at home on Emily Post’s bookshelves. As the characters are all based off of geometric shapes, even pre-readers will enjoy looking at the images, and the Mr. Men / Little Miss books are a good starting point for emergent readers to start out with. I have a feeling that this will be popular with K-1 groups especially, but the paperback might not survive long if you have an exuberant reader. Mr. Bump and Little Miss Sunshine’s books are already out, and Little Miss Daredevil is due out in October.


Mameshiba: We Could Be Heroes!


Image Courtesy Viz Media

Written by: James Turner, Lark Pien, Illustrated by: Jorge Monlongo, Lark Pien

Viz Media, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-42154-128-0 (PB)

$6.99, Ages 7+


Mameshiba (literally “Bean Dog”) are cute little bean dog creatures who have adventures that can get pretty wild at times. Each Mameshiba is named for the bean that it is (Edamame, Chili, Cocoa, Red, etc.), and the adventures they experience have to be seen to be believed!


A collection of short stories, interspersed with little “one shots” let us experience the wild times the Mameshibas have – from helping Chili Bean win the confidence to profess his love, to Cocoa doing a bang up imitation of Godzilla, to traveling to a mystical world under Red Bean’s bed – this is some crazy stuff. If you take a dash of Adventure Time, mix in some Regular Show, give it it’s own zany spin, and then add the cutest little legu-nines this side of Japan, and you’ll still not appreciate Mameshiba. The artwork gets a little busy at times, but is still clean and understandable, while the stories are interspersed with little trivia bits (for example, Boiled Bean explains that farmers will sometimes feed small magnets to their cows to prevent ingested metals from injuring the cow.)

Final Thoughts

Out of all the books I read this week, this was the one I kept coming back to. My youngest absolutely loves this book (he’s four), and he wants me to read it to him over and over again. Mameshiba may have you scratching your head at first glance, but a page or two in, you’re totally hooked. While the sheer volume of the stories may be intimidating to some readers, they move quickly, and the “shorts” in between stories help resituate readers quickly and painlessly. This is another great book for emergent readers, but I’m thinking more along the lines of 1 – 3 grade. Regardless, this is promising to be a fun series. Mameshiba is out now.

03 September 2012

3 September 2012–Viz-ualizing Some awesome things


Alright, I’ll knock it off with the bad puns one of these days. Seriously though, Got a *huge* book rundown for you this week: Giant robots, fairies, and bean dogs (to name a few). First however, the news -


A while back, I reviewed Raina Telgemeier’s new book Drama on the GNReader. Well, gentle reader, Drama came out on Saturday, and from early feedback, it has been a huge success! I am happy to report that Raina is out promoting her new book now, and is super excited to be meeting her fans. If you would like to see if she’s going to be at a bookstore near you soon, please check out her website at http://goraina.com/.


Don’t forget! The Re-issue of The Monkey King Vol. 1 is due out tomorrow. Also keep in mind that this is the library binding (hardcover with reinforced spine).


Since we’ve got a lot to review this week, let’s get to it.


Voltron Force

VoltronForce01-Cover5Voltron 2voltron 3




Images Courtesy Viz Media


Written by: Brian Smith, Illustrated by: Jacob Chabot

Viz Media, 2012

ISBN(s): 978-1-42154-153-2, 978-1-42154-154-9, 978-1-42154-155-6 (PB)

$7.99, Ages: 8+


Set approximately five to seven years after the seminal 80s cartoon (which I watched religiously as a kid!), Voltron is back, and still doing battle with the forces of evil. Bringing back the original pilots (Lance, Hunk, Keith, Pidge and Princess Allura) who are now training three new Alliance cadets to help pilot the lions. King Lotor (The ruler formerly known as Prince… Lotor) is back, and pitching Robeasts like they’re going out of style. New to this series is Haggarium, a power source of pure evil (allegedly created from the witch Haggar, creator of Robeasts in the original Voltron) that has poisoned both King Lotor and Daniel, one of the Alliance cadets. These three books focus on stories that are exclusive to the print media, being companion pieces to the television series.


While not really breaking any new ground in terms of originality, Voltron Force is still a blast. Too often, when series get rebooted, the original characters are relegated to a few early stories or episodes and then forgotten all together. In this series, the original crew is there, playing an integral part in the new crew’s training and growth. The villain, who played a part in the original show is back and more evil than ever, and the story feels like only a few years have passed since the original show.  The artwork is crisp and reverent to the original, while the characters all stay true to their original incarnations. It’s obvious that the folks working on the series now watched the show when they were young, and hold it in high regard.

Final Thoughts

When I originally heard that Voltron was getting a reboot of sorts, I rolled my eyes, fearing it would be a pale imitation of the original. Imagine my delight when I read these books (I don’t have cable or satellite) and discovered that they’re staying true to the original material as possible. Reading these books, I was hit with a huge wave of nostalgia, and had to turn on Netflix to watch a few episodes of the original series. Another great thing about the book series is the fact that Pidge’s high-pitched, nasal voice is silenced (The only complaint I had about the original series). This is one of those series that can really brings dads and sons together, and I highly recommend it for libraries. The storylines are nothing objectionable and will prove to be popular, especially with action oriented kids or Power Rangers fanatics. The first three books listed above have already been released, with another three scheduled to be released through February of 2013.




Image Courtesy Viz Comics

Written by: Aubrey Sitterson & Mike Raicht, Illustrated by: Write Height Media & Dan Ciurczak

Viz Media, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-42155-336-3 (PB)

$7.99, Ages 8+


In the world of Redakai, there is an element that is integral to everything – Kairu. When used for good, it helps guide the life of the universe. If it falls into the hands of evil, it can be the most destructive force in the world. However, not everyone can harness the power of Kairu, but those that can have the potential to become Kairu warriors, possibly even a powerful Redakai. Three kids, Ky, Maya and Boomer are three Kairu warrior trainees who are trying to prevent the evil Lokar and his groups of E-Teens from gaining more Kairu.


For something that travels across familiar ground, Redakai does a good job of making the journey feel fresh, Ky, Maya and Boomer all have relatable traits that kids can easily recognize, while the villains are mean. but not too scary. The artwork is clean and crisp, and the messages presented are well thought out and executed.

Final thoughts

Redakai is one of those books that you don’t have to worry about if your child gets ahold of it. The battles are exciting without being bloody or even overly violent, and there’s very little chance of nightmares in young readers. If you have a kid (or kids) that are into the trading card game or television show, this is definitely going to be a must have addition. Redakai Vol. 1 is due out October 2012, and volume 2 is due out February 2013.


Winx Club

winx 1

winx 2

Images Courtesy Viz Media

Created by: Iginio Straffi, Translated by: Viz Media

ISBN(s): 978-1-42154-159-4, 978-1-42154-160-0 (PB)

$7.99, Ages: 6+


Bloom is just your typical 16 year old girl. She loves to hang out with her friends, playing with her rabbit, and dreaming about getting her first scooter. However, a chance encounter with another young woman in the park reveals a whole new world of possibilities. As it turns out, Bloom is not just your typical 16 year old girl – she’s a fairy. He new friend Stella invites her to Alfea and the Fairy school so she can learn to harness her new powers. Along the way, she’ll make new friends, meet new enemies, and have the adventure of a lifetime!


Originally created in Italy, and later translated into English, Winx Club has been around for a while as  toys, television shows, apparel, and video games, however the books are finally being published in English. The stories follow the original storylines and emphasize the empowerment of the female characters, their ability to triumph over obstacles and get along with others. The artwork is bright, friendly and very clean. While libraries may catch some flack from some people claiming the characters play to stereotypes, I really think they’re looking at the varnish and not the building. Winx is first and foremost a tale about the power of friends and the power to believe that one can do anything they want to – especially through hard work and dedication. While I personally would not pick the books up on a whim, I feel that the message contained within is very empowering to young ladies, and can be a good “hook” to get girls into reading graphic novels. The first two books (listed above) are already out, the third book is due out this month.


Well, I’ve spent all weekend working on this post, and I’m still not done. I think this is going to be one of those rare 2 part posts. I’ve still got two more book series to cover, but I’m out of steam tonight. Stay tuned for tomorrow, where we take another trip into nostalgia (perhaps not as old as one would think), and meet some creatures that are decidedly different… and cute… and oddly enough…. tasty.

27 August 2012

27 August 2012–A Foreign Affair (plus the usual nonsense)


Alright folks, News first, then reviews.

One of the things I always try and look for when reviewing new books are books that are aimed at, or at least have, girls as the protagonist. Girls are a traditionally under-represented demographic in graphic novels, and I think it’s very important that girls are presented in a positive light. So, imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled across A Mighty Girl (Thanks go out to Jeremy Whitley of Princeless fame – my review can be found here), who posted the Top Graphic Novels for Mighty Girls. They have a fantastic selection of graphic novels aimed at girls, and the few that I haven’t read personally have all been highly recommended, so please check the list out! It’s well worth the trip.


In Bloop news, Steve is still chugging along, having hit 134% of his goal (and he still has 21 days to go!) He’s now added the coolest Bloop plush. If you’ve already sponsored Bloop, you can kick in a little extra for the plush (Full details are at Kickstarter). plushieIn turns of full disclosure, I do not have anything to do with Bloop other than being a vocal supporter – I do not and will not get any financial recompense (nor would I want it). I do this purely for the fact that I believe in this project. (Thanks again to Steve Conley for letting me borrow this image)



Well, as far as I know, that covers the news in this part of the web for this week. Now, on to the reviews review. Due to technical difficulties, I’va had to cut the reviews short this week. All will be explained below.


This first book is rather interesting, in that they’ve been in print in English, since approximately 2005. Why review it now? Jr Comics is reissuing it in a Library Binding (thick, heavy duty covers), and its just too much fun to pass up. Plus, it’s not that often I get to review Chinese manhua, so I totally jumped on this.


The Monkey King Vol. 1

Monkey King 1

Image Courtesy  Jr Comics

Written by Wei Dong Chen, Illustrated by Chao Peng

Jr Comics (Lerner Publishing), 2012

ISBN: 978-8-99420-869-5 (Library Binding)

$29.27, Ages: 10+


The Monkey King, or “The Journey to the West” as it is more commonly known, is one of the oldest and most revered Chinese tales, one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature. Combining folklore, legend, and fantasy, this tells the story of Sun Wu Kong, a.k.a. the Stone Monkey, a.k.a. the Handsome Monkey King, as he first comes into being, and then gets into mischief with the various kings and gods of Chinese myth. This is the first volume in a twenty volume set, that shows the birth of the Monkey King and his various early adventures, where he’s little more than a vain, imperious, petulant child. Over the course of the next 19 volumes, he becomes a powerful, wise and benevolent character that brings Buddhism to China.


“The Journey to the West” is as important to China as the tales of Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan. It has been the source of such works as DragonBall, American Born Chinese and My Son Goku, and influences can been seen in games (both computer and table top), movies, and television. The artwork is absolutely stunning, and the story moves at a measured, but very brisk pace.  There is very little (if any) objectionable material, mostly concerning itself with big explosions and bloodless violence.

Final Thoughts

When I started this book, I had only the vaguest idea of what the story was (having previously read American Born Chinese – which is brilliant by the way), but there is a fascinating and very illuminating explanation and overview at the beginning of the book that makes it much easier to understand, and then an analysis at the end that helps westerners parse what exactly what has happened. This would be great for a unit on Chinese or World mythology, but it’s just as fun on it’s own. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that a paperback copy of this title was released back in January, and the price is much more cost effective.


My Second review was going to be a retelling of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, by Wei Dong Chen, but unfortunately, I cannot find any information related to it’s purchasing information anywhere! As soon as I get a release date (and a webpage), I’ll review it, because just like The Monkey King, this is also going to be a 20 book series detailing a huge instance in Chinese history. I’m very sad that I can’t find the information about it.


Slight Delay in Today's Post

Well, today's post is coming, I promise. However, it may be a little late. I'm reviewing a couple of titles that are really, really cool, but I'm missing some information from the publisher. If I don't get it in time, I'll have to postpone one of the reviews, but I promise - this is something that is brand new to the GNReader, and also something I hope I can review more of in the future. Just hang tight folks, the post will go up today! Nathan

20 August 2012

20 August 2012 – Batula (and news updates)

As the summer winds down, and schools let back in for the season, I find myself thinking that the GNReader needs some sprucing up. I’ve been debating a couple of changes that might result in minor cosmetic changes to the page, or it could mean a whole redesign. I’m still up in the air about the entire thing. Anyways, that’s a discussion for another day.

Remember how I said last week that my friend Steve Conley was starting a kickstarter project to fund his Bloop production? Well, the day after it went live, he hit his goal. Now, the kickstarter runs for a full month and you can still kick in to help fund it. Just check out the link above and be a part of something that I personally feel is going to be momentous.

The Toon Books Contest tied into Rutu Modan’s finished a few days ago. No winners announced yet, but the contestants looked like they had a blast. Hopefully, they’ll list the winners soon. I just wanted to thank Toon Books for allowing me to be a part of the contest (however minor it might have been). It was a lot of fun to see kids showing off how messy they could be, and reminded me of how much fun my kids were at that age (and still are).

In the next couple of months, I will be creating brochures and discussion points that highlight what it is that I do, as I have been doing some public speaking. If you would like for me to come and discuss graphic novels for younger audiences, general audiences, new releases, or just about anything to do with Graphic Novels, please contact me to see about scheduling a meeting.




Image Courtesy Image Comics

Written by Steven T. Seagle, Illustrated by Marco Cinello

Image Comics, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60706-572-2 (HC)

$16.99; Ages: 8 +


Livingston is a peaceful fruit bat that lives in the Orchard, a lovely area of land outside of the Big City. Livingston is consumed with the fact that he doesn’t stand out from any of the other bats in his group, and can’t seem to draw the eye of Drina, a cute female bat that he likes. Deciding to distinguish himself from the others in the Orchard, Livingston flies into the Big City to make a name for himself. After a terrifying run-in with another bat, Livingston starts acting different. While the new Livingston is an instant hit with Drina, he seriously jeopardizes his chances with her when she catches him eating a meatball. Fleeing the Orchard, Livingston meets Wulf, who trains him to embrace the change and use it for the betterment of his brethren.  Of course, once his group is threatened by a not-so-old enemy, can Livingston prove he’s the hero Wulf thinks he is? Can he truly become…Batula?


Alright, this is not a *traditional* graphic novel in the sense of word balloons and panels, but I’m willing to make an exception in this case. For one, it’s written by Steven T. Segal – The guy who helped create Man of Action Labs (the Ben 10 series, Generator Rex, and the Vertigo title House of Secrets), two, it’s steeped in comic book folklore, and three, because it’s my blog and I can review what I want. The pacing is tight, yet not frantic, and even though the story may not break any new ground, it’s done in such a way that it feels completely fresh and original. Cinello’s artwork is eye-poppingly gorgeous and really captures the moods of each event. My personal favorite is the character of Wulf, who bears a passing resemblance to the old Daredevil mentor “Stick”. There is humor, action, and just enough danger to make this a great story.

Final Thoughts

This may not be a title that girls are going to flock to, but the boys will be swarming this one. Segal’s been around a while, and this book really shows off the mastery of his craft. Coupling Cinello’s artwork with Segal’s prose results in a fun, funny, and fascinating tale of what you can accomplish, especially when you realize that being different can be a huge advantage. Libraries are going to want at least one copy, and be prepared for it to be waitlisted, because it really is a lot of fun.

13 August 2012

13 August 2012–News (and the weekly review)


Alright – before I get to the review (it’s a big one), I’d like to cover some news. First, the bad news: Joe Kubert (Sgt. Rock and Hawkman amongst many other characters) passed away over the weekend. He was also known for one of the most decorated and prestigious schools of sequential art – the aptly named Joe Kubert School. If you’re looking to pursue a career in sequential art, please give them a look.

Now, for some good news: Steve Conley, writer and author of the webcomic Bloop is getting ready to go live with his kickstarter program tomorrow (14 August 2012). I was allowed a sneak-peek at his kickstarter page, and it looks fantastic. I can’t say anything more until the page goes live, but trust me on this – if you decide to fund any kickstarter, it needs to be this one. I am seriously giddy about this program. I’ll link to it as soon as it goes live.

Remember the Messy Eater Contest that Toon Books was doing a few weeks ago? They’ve extended the deadline to 15 August – so if you’ve been meaning to send in your pics to win a free copy of Maya Makes a Mess, you’ve got a couple of more days. There’s already some stiff competition on their site as well, check it out!


A Wrinkle in Time

The Graphic Novel

a wrinkle in time

Image Courtesy Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Written by Madeleine L’Engle, Adapted and Illustrated by Hope Larson

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012 (HB)

ISBN: 978-0-37438-615-3

$19.95, Ages 10+


Meg Murry. Charles Wallace Murry. Calvin O’Keefe. Mrs Who. Mrs Whatsit. Mrs Which. Names that have entered the timeless vernacular of YA science fiction literature. Originally published over 50 years ago, A Wrinkle in Time has never been out of print. Now, Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin are lovingly rendered in a visual aspect – from tessering to facing IT, the classic story gains a whole new dimension (please forgive the pun).


I have been anticipating this for a long time, and it does not disappoint. It is obvious that Larson has poured a lot of work into this adaptation – this was not something that was slapped together in a matter of months. The characters are fully realized and developed (Mrs Who was a special delight, personally) and the two-tone color choices work throughout 99% of the book. The last 1% is my only beef with the book (and it’s a small one) is when Meg and company meet the Man with Red Eyes. Unfortunately, his eyes are a milky blue, causing a little disconnect with the story. Other than that, A Wrinkle in Time is a brilliantly recognized work from an outstanding artist. If this does not get at least one Eisner Award nod, then I will be supremely upset.

Final Thoughts

As a kid, I struggled to grasp L’Engle’s works (I was never good with the complex mathematical theories). Larson’s work on this book completely epitomizes the entire context of why I think graphic novels are so important. She has managed to take something that was practically undecipherable and present it in a way that is not only understandable, but engaging without talking down or resorting to condescension. This is going to be one of those books that will find its way into the classroom, not only as a literature book, but also  a style book. If you enjoyed A Wrinkle in Time, this will be a very welcome addition to your collection. If you never read it because it was too confusing, give this version a try – it has a flow to it that makes everything more understandable. This is a (if not *the*) must have book of 2012.

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel will be available 2 October 2012. 

06 August 2012

6 August 2012–A Blast from the Past, IDW Style

This week is kind of special for me. IDW is getting ready to re-release a bunch of old comics that they’ve collected together. Now, this is a bit of a bittersweet realization for me. I remember when these originally came out, so it’s like visiting an old friend, but by the same token, it also makes me realize just how old I’ve gotten. However, since my age is beside the point, lets get to the comics.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures Vol. 1


Image Courtesy IDW

Written and Illustrated by: Various

IDW, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61377-289-8 (TPB)

$19.99, Ages 6+


Collects two classic Turtles storylines from the early 90s influenced television show. In Return of the Shredder, the turtles have to face off against Shredder (newly  returned from the X-Zone). When the Shredder decides to get his revenge on the Turtles, will they be able to shake the bad press, as well as their newly returned nemesis? In the second tale, The Incredible Shrinking Turtles, the Turtles are shrank to miniscule size. How are they going to defeat the Shredder and get back to their original size?


The Turtles of the 90s created two camps of fans. The old 80s black-and-white Turtles that were more hard bitten and gritty were a huge success on the independent market, while the much more kid friendly and family appropriate Turtles of the early 90s managed to get all the television, toy, movie, and video game deals. The artwork is obviously of the Disney-esque/Archie-esque influence – the turtles are friendly and inviting as heroes, and the villains, while visually disconcerting, are usually played off as bullies or inept, klutzy cowards. From what I can tell, these are clean reprints (possibly digitally mastered), and the colors absolutely pop off the page at times. However, if you ever watched the old shows, you know that the stories can be extremely saccharine and occasionally talks down to the intended audience.

Final Thoughts

This is one of those that kids are either going to love or hate. Younger audiences are going to enjoy the safer stories and comic elements, but older teens will probably be put off by the campiness of the entire thing. Still, be prepared to be seeing adult males in their 30s – 40s checking copies out. This would probably fit best in the children’s section, and for parents, the nostalgia factor alone should be a selling point.


G.I. Joe Vs. Transformers

Gi Joe vs Transformers

Image Courtesy IDW

Written and Illustrated by: Various

IDW, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61377-352-9 (TPB)

$24.99, Ages 8+


Two staples of 80s boys entertainment come together in this collection of old issues. These two franchises were the be all, end all of male oriented youth entertainment in the 80s, and it’s not hard to see why. This book collects the Transformers 4-issue mini-series as well as a two issue story arc where Megatron and Cobra face off against The Autobots and the JOEs.


While a little harder edged than the Turtles, G.I. JOE and the Transformers always strived to show that the good guys always won. It is interesting to note that this mini-series is also the one where Bumblebee (the little yellow VW Bug) is actually “killed” accidently by the JOEs and is later brought back as ‘Gold Bug’ (A little history: Bumblebee was *the* character that kids loved the most – he was the friendliest, most gregarious and outgoing of the Autobots, and his first human friend was a kid). The artwork is clean and doesn’t suffer from the occasional off-set printing that plagued comics of the time. The storylines suffer from some soap opera treatment, and Cobra does pull off an assassination that hits close to home for the JOEs. The majority of violence happens ‘off camera’, but the after effects are shown, so it’s important to note that.

Final Thoughts

This was *hot* when it was originally released, and topical to the time. That being said, it hasn’t aged as well as other titles from the same time. The Outfits and costumes of the time may seem a little silly now, but the characters never compromised on who they were, and the sincerity helps the story along and allows the reader to look past the outdated fashions. Regardless, this title is definitely going to appeal to slightly older kids who may not be ready to hit the ‘teen’ section yet, but are finding children’s titles to be a little too easy. Again, don’t be surprised if you see dads come up to the checkout counter with this.


As it stands, IDW has done a stand up job with these two titles. they could have easily just thrown these issues between a couple of covers and called it good. Instead, they’ve painstakingly cleaned up the pages, and treated the materials with a reverence that often seems to be overlooked. The prices may seem a little high, but if you pre-order, you can find them much more palatable. I do get the feeling that many sales will be from the nostalgia market who either had the titles and lost them, or missed out on them the first time around.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1 is due out 21 August 2012, while G.I. JOE Vs. Transformers is due out 11 September, 2012.

30 July 2012

30 July 2012–Hereville Vol. 2 How Mirka Met a Metorite



Image Courtesy Amulet Books

Written and Illustrated by Barry Deutsch

Amulet Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-41970-398-0 (HC)

$16.95, Ages 8+


Mirka is back! Having successfully defeated the troll and winning her sword, Mirka is now grounded and bored. Finding a way to get out of her punishment, she seeks out the troll in order to practice with her sword. However, when she angers the troll, he calls down a meteorite on the witches house that sent Mirka his way in the first place. In a mad dash effort to prevent the meteorite from destroying the witch (and everyone she knows and loves), she manages to complicate things even more when the witch changes the meteorite into a carbon copy of Mirka! Now, Mirka has to deal with this imposter who is better at everything. When Mirka shoots her mouth off, one of the two Mirkas will stay, while the other has to leave… forever!


Deutsch has really kept up the power and intensity of his Hereville series. Mirka is instantly recognizable as an everygirl type of protagonist, and while she’s an orthodox Jew, it doesn’t make her seem strange or weird. In fact, it makes her even more sympathetic as a character. While not based off of any recognizable Jewish folklore, the stories have the feel of beloved tales passed down from generation to generation. The artwork is inviting without being overly saccharine and the story itself is involved and nuanced.

Final Thoughts

Deutsch has crafted a heroine that is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but is easy to relate to. What I thought was a great touch was that Mirka even realizes that she’s not perfect, and embraces her shortcomings in a way that is non-judgmental or denigrating. His artwork is lovingly rendered and emotive without getting too ‘cutesy’ or comical. All in all, this is a fantastic book that really speaks to that difficult age where kids are starting to figure out who they want to be. The book is not due out until November, but it is available for pre-order now (so I suggest you get your orders in!)

26 July 2012

26 July 2012–Toon Books Contest!


I’ve always been a big fan of contests, and I’ve always been kind of a messy eater. So when Toon Books contacted me about their new contest, I was super excited to pass the information along.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself “what is he going on about?” Well, you remember last week’s reviews? One of the books I reviewed was Maya Makes a Mess by Eisner Award winner Rutu Modan. It is a wonderfully funny book, and the artwork is just amazing. Anyways, the great folks over at Toon Books seem to feel the same way – so much so, they’re holding a contest in the spirit of the book.

(Here’s an excerpt of the email they sent me today)

We are excited to announce that TOON Books will be hosting a GIVEAWAY for the upcoming release of our newest Easy-To-Read comic Maya Makes a Mess by Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Rutu Modan. We would like to make you a part of it!

Maya, a young girl with particularly messy manners, receives an unexpected invitation to dine with the Queen. Suddenly her manners are put to the ultimate test and she begins to improvise her very own set of rules, with uproarious results.

To celebrate the joy of sticky hands and sloppy faces we pose this challenge: how messy can it get? To be entered into our giveaway, simply email a picture/video of messy manners to mail@toon-books.com

A free copy of Maya Makes a Mess will be sent to our favorite messy eaters. Winners and runners-up will also be featured in a hall of fame gallery.

This is going to be a great contest, and super easy to boot! All you have to do is upload a picture of you being a messy eater to mail@toon-books.com. Seriously – how difficult is that? If they love your pic, you get a free copy of Maya Makes a Mess!

It’s not even limited to the kids either! Take a look at this:

TOON staff members Julianna and Stela hard at work!

Image courtesy Toon Books

These two look like they were having a lot of fun, and you can too! Just take a pic of you eating messily (or at least the aftermath) and email it to  mail@toon-books.com.

Trust me, this is a book your kids are going to love for many years to come, and for those emergent readers who are looking for something that is a fun read, but not too difficult, look no further.

For more information and video suggestions, please check out Toon Books Maya Makes a Mess page. http://toon-books.com/mayamakesamess/messy-eater/

Good luck to all those messy eaters out there, and  please remember these three guidelines:

1) Get your parent’s permission first

2) Have fun, be creative!

3) Be sure to clean up afterwards!

24 July 2012

24 July 2012– Tripping the Light Scholastic

I know this is a day late, but due recent incidents, I‘ve been a little distracted. I apologize for the delay. I’ll be addressing the whole Batman Theater issue on my other blog, but please be aware that it was a raw, ugly, incident, and my take on it may be just as raw and ugly. However, you didn’t come here to hear me rant and rave; here, we’re going to talk about cool, awesome things. Things like two new offerings from Scholastic (which is a cool and awesome publishing company in its own right). On a side note, I had to beg, borrow and stop just short of stealing to get these books – apparently, I somehow fell off their mailing list.




Image Courtesy Scholastic

Written and Illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

Scholastic, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-54532-699-5 (PB)

$10.99, Ages: 13+


Callie loves theater, but she can’t carry a tune to save her life. So when her school decides to put on Moon Over Mississippi, she’s super excited to be the set designer for the play, and she’s planning on making Broadway on a middle school budget. In addition to wanting Broadway, without having the experience of Broadway, Callie and the crew have to deal with poor ticket sales, a distinct lack of experience with carpentry, and clashing egos (both in front of the curtain and behind). When two cute brothers join the cast and crew, it’s all Callie can do to keep things from falling apart without losing her mind.


Telgemeier once again takes us on an amazing journey through what seems to be a mundane everyday occurrence, and makes it magic. Having done some theater in high school, I was taken back to those awkward, embarrassing, occasionally hostile, and ultimately gratifying times that they entailed. Callie is a fascinating and nuanced protagonist, and her dreams and efforts are presented with such clarity that it’s impossible to not root for her. Her fight with the cannon is especially poignant, and the emotional impact has to be experienced to be understood.

Final Thoughts

I have been a fan of Raina’s since she first debuted, and she has only gotten better with time. Her characters are fully living, breathing beings that command the attention of the reader.  On the heels of her Eisner Award winning Smile, Telgemeier has crafted a tale that is slightly bittersweet, humorous, and memorable. On a side note, just so parents can’t claim “ambush” I do have to present a spoiler in the fact that one of the characters is gay, which I thought was wonderful, but I know not everyone shares my views. My only complaint is that I had to continually remind myself that this is set in middle school. But when set against everything else, it is an incredibly small complaint. I’d be willing to bet Drama is going to be on many critics “best of” lists this year, and it’s no wonder why. Pre-order this book now – you won’t be disappointed. Libraries would be wise to have at least two physical copies ready to go.


Amulet, Vol. 5: Prince of the Elves


Image Courtesy Scholastic

Written and Illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi

Scholastic, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-54520-889-5 (PB)

$12.99, Ages 8+


Things are not looking good for Emily, her family and friends, or the legendary city of Cielis. The traitor Max Griffin has presented the Elf King with the mother stone. With the King’s power now growing exponentially, dangerous journeys must be undertaken, but at what cost?


Kibuishi is famous for both his storytelling and his artwork, and as usual, he doesn’t disappoint. The story moves at a breakneck pace this time around, and the action comes fast and furious, but the artwork still forces you to slow down and drink in the sheer mastery of the medium. The attention to detail is absolutely phenomenal, and the revelations prepare the reader for the inevitable war looming on the horizon.

Final Thoughts

Kibuishi knocks this one out of the park. It’s crazy fast, intense, and just oh, so, gorgeous. If you’re new to the series, you’re definitely going to want to read the first four books, because book 5 doesn’t wait for you to catch your breath – it’s off like a shot the moment you read the first panel. Scholastic has yet another winner on their hands. What I don’t understand is why Kibuishi has not won an Eisner for his work yet. This is amazing stuff, and it must be seen to be believed.

16 July 2012

16 July 2012, Toon-A-Palooza


No, not this! (special thanks to flickr user Mauralyn for the pic)

Nor This (no idea of what the site really is, toon fan service maybe?)

What I’m talking about is a big review this week of not one, not two, not three, but four – count ‘em, Four! new books from the wonderful folks at Toon Books.


First up, we have A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse by Frank VIva.


Image Courtesy Toon Books

Written and Illustrated by Frank Viva

Toon Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-93517-919-1 (HB)

$12.95, Ages: 4 +

Summary: A young explorer and his friend Mouse, take a trip to the bottom of the world. On the way, mouse makes observations on such things as tasks that are difficult to execute while the boat is going up and down on the waves, what to wear in the cold temperatures, different types of penguins, what whales might do, and different types of creatures that live in the sea.

Analysis: As with other books in the level 1 group, this is a simple book for the youngest readers. I really hate to use the term simple, because it implies that this is not an engaging book – far from it. Viva’s artwork is simplistic, but the characters still convey emotions and actions so clear and succinctly that any child reading it can tell at a glance what the characters are feeling. Mouse is readily willing and eager to list items that fall into each category presented, and I was mildly surprised to discover that even at the bottom of the world, it is possible to swim in the ocean in certain areas.

Final Thoughts: This is a fun book. my littlest one really enjoys the different penguins, and this is currently on his list of nightly reads. The artwork is very inviting and the story, while a quick read, is one that kids will demand to read again and again.


Next we have the latest installment of the super popular Toon Books series, Benny and Penny.


Image Courtesy Toon Books

Written and Illustrated by Geoffrey Hayes

Toon Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-93517-920-7 (HB)

$12.95, Ages: 6 +

Summary: Benny and Penny, sibling mice, are having another grand adventure, this time, when the two are getting ready for bed, they tell each other stories, with Benny doing everything in his power to be a nuisance to his little sister, be it with a flashlight, dinosaur book, or drinks. However, when Benny realizes he forgot something important out in the play house, will he be brave enough to go get it, or will he need help from Penny?

Analysis: Benny and Penny has proven to be a huge success with kids and parents, and it’s very easy to see why. Hayes artwork is clean, yet rich and vibrant. Benny and Penny feel like living, breathing characters, and they act exactly like kids their age would act.

Final Thoughts: While their adventures may not be as harrowing as those of Jeff Smith’s Fone Bone, Benny and Penny are just as charismatic and endearing. Hayes knows how to write stories that are fun, while subtly driving home the point that even though siblings can be a royal pain, they’re usually the first ones to have your back when you need it the most.


Now appearing on Stage Three of Toon-A-Palooza, Maya Makes a Mess, the first children’s title by Eisner Award Winning Rutu Modan (Author and Illustrator of Exit Wounds).


Image Courtesy Toon Books

Written and Illustrated by Rutu Modan

Toon Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-93517-917-7 (HC)

$12.95, Ages: 6+

Summary: One night, while Maya is eating dinner with her folks, she is summoned to dinner with the Queen. Not having time to change, she jumps on the plane. Being constantly being reminded to mind her manners, Maya ends up attending something similar to a state dinner. As the meal progresses, Maya introduces an interesting new way of eating a meal to the upper crust of society.

Analysis: When I first started reading this book, I was worried that it was going to be rather dull and boring. I am so glad I was dead wrong. Modan has crafted a story that builds slowly at first, reaching a crescendo of childhood impropriety that is a laugh riot. Her artwork is clean and beautiful, evoking suggestions of Art Deco and Hergé’s Tin Tin.

Final Thoughts: Out of all the books reviewed this week, this one was probably the biggest and most enjoyable surprise. Enjoyable, funny, and deeply satisfying, Maya Makes a Mess is awesomely entertaining, and a must read. I have a feeling that this is going to be on many “Best of…” lists.


Our final review tonight is The Secret of the Stone Frog, by David Nytra. A bit bigger than standard offerings, it is still an amazing and entertaining book.

stone frog

Written and Illustrated by David Nytra

Toon Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-93517-918-4 (HB)

$14.95, Ages: 8 +

Summary: Siblings Alan and Leah wake up one day and discover themselves in an enchanted forest. Trying to figure out how to get home, they have to rely on their wits and the advice of a stone frog in order to get home.

Analysis: Everything about this book is a blast. From the art and the story to the rough cut edges of the pages and name plate on the inside cover, this is one of those books that may not appeal to all kids, but the ones it does, they’re going to treasure this book for life. It’s one of those that will become a family treasure, passed down from parent to child. The art seems to be heavily influenced equally by Windsor McCay and John Tenniel, with a hint of L. Frank Baum thrown in for good measure.

Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. The artwork has a timelessness to it that I’ve always found fascinating, and there’s just enough strangeness to really make the story imbed itself deep within your psyche. It may not be a fast mover on the library shelves, but those that take the leap will definitely appreciate it for years to come.

09 July 2012

9 July 2012 - Non-traditional subjects

Well, the majority of Colorado is now out, and the fire bans have been lifted, so we’re going to make it another year. yay!

Right now, Folks all over the world are travelling to San Diego for the world famous San Diego Comic Con. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I suppose that’s alright, seeing as how it’s expensive to drive from Colorado to San Diego (not to mention hotels and food and all those awesome souvenirs). If you are going, be sure to swing by the Capstone booth at the con. Because of the super positive reviews they received in the aftermath of Free Comic Book Day, they’re increasing their presence at the Con. Swing by their booth, tell them Nathan sent ya.

On a side note, A while back I told you about a Bloop the web comic about a green space monkey. Here’s a link if you missed it the first time (it’s at the bottom). Apparently, Steve has been so successful with the web comic, he’s getting ready to start a kickstarter to fund a limited edition first issue. In Steve’s own words:

The first 24-page chapter will be printed in a GIANT 10x15, full-color, hardcover, deluxe format (case-bound with foil stamp and a full-color dust jacket AND 100# satin paper interior) and be out this September.

I’ve seen a preview of the dust jacket cover, and it is beautiful. Believe me, as it progresses, I’ll be posting updates.

Anyways, doing a two-fer review this week. Neither title is brand new, but they are both interesting and really kind of non-traditional stories.


Discovery Channel: Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Predators


Image Courtesy Zenoscope

Written and Illustrated by Various

Silver Dragon Books, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-98275-074-2 (TPB)

$9.99, Suggested 9+



Adventure back in time to see prehistoric creatures and learn about them in gruesome detail. From the powerful Triceratops to the terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex. Backed by the Discovery Channel’s extensive library of information, This is an exhaustive examination of some of the most famous dinosaur species ever discovered.


This book is not one of those that shies away from the more… natural aspects of how dinosaurs spent their days. Incredibly informative, they don’t skimp on the information. The artwork is detailed and beautifully rendered, and it’s obvious that everyone involved with this book was invested heart and soul in it’s production.

Final Thoughts

As I said previously, this is a beautiful book, and that’s where my reservations stem from. For younger (and/or sensitive) readers, this book has pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel in it. Certain scenes, especially the ends of the carnivore entries often have the dinosaur facing the reader, jaws wide open, like it’s ready to chow down on the audience. Other points of possible concern to parents are when the carnivores are eating – there’s very few strategically placed plants or rocks to hide the carnage. Regardless, this is an impressively researched and presented book. Definitely one worth checking out, but before recommending it, know your audience!



The Duckling Gets A Cookie!?

Duckling Gets A Cookie

Image Courtesy Hyperion Book CH

Written and Illustrated by Mo Willems

Hyperion Book CH, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-42315-128-9 (HC)

$9.99, Ages 2+



If you’re familiar with the Pigeon, this book really needs no introduction. Created by Emmy Award Winner Mo Willems, the Pigeon has become a staple of early childhood literature. Originally appearing in Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, the temperamental fowl has made several attempts to get his way through passive-aggressive ways. In this latest installment, the Pigeon has encountered his new ‘nemesis’ an extremely cute and polite duckling who asks for a cookie, and gets it. This of course sets the pigeon off on a book length rant about how he never gets what he wants.


Willems has had a long and successful career – first on Sesame Street and then with his different book series. The Pigeon is one of those characters that kids can instantly identify with, and love to read of his exploits time and again. The images are simple, with solid easy to understand colors and storylines that even the youngest readers will quickly identify and enjoy. While many people classify the Pigeon books and Willem’s other series Elephant and Piggie to be children’s books (which they are), they’re also perfect introductions to graphic novels at their simplest level. Panels are rendered to one a page, word balloons show discussion as well as who is speaking, action lines show movement – these are the basics of comics and graphic novels.

Final Thoughts

Buy this book. That’s all there is to it. While you’re at it, get the rest of the Pigeon books as well. No matter how old you are, you’re going to love these books.

03 July 2012

3 July 2012–Usagi Yojimbo: Bridge of Tears

Bridge of Tears

Image courtesy Dark Horse Comics

Written and Illustrated by Stan Sakai

Dark Horse Comics, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59582-298-7 (TPB)

$17.95, Ages 10 +



The Rabbit Ronin, Miyamoto Usagi is back in another adventure (book 23). The life of a Ronin (lordless samurai) is often lonely, partially due to the rigors of the job, the need to stay mobile, and the fact that any distractions could lead to an untimely death. Usagi is no stranger to solitude, but after saving a young woman (who convinces him to take her along), is romance in Usagi’s future? How can he be sure to keep her safe and himself alive when the assassin’s guild is hot on his trail? This collection also showcases the 100th issue of Usagi Yojimbo with a comic roast of Sakai and his ronin rabbit, with special guest artists Frank Miller, Jeff Smith, and Sergio Aragonés, among others.


Usagi Yojimbo has been around since I was a kid (almost 30 years ago), and the entire time the series has been around, it has been haled by parental groups as a fantastic series. While the series concerns itself with an incredibly violent time period (medieval Japan), the violence is surprisingly tame. When a character is killed, there is never any blood spurting out or severed limbs flopping around. Instead, the deceased falls to the ground with a small skull and crossbones issuing forth (apparently signaling a death rattle). Moral ambiguity is rather rare in this series as well – Usagi is a straight arrow, while the villains are sleazy from the get-go. Occasionally, you’ll get a character that is much more devious than originally portrayed, but the surprise doesn’t feel forced. Usagi is a definite character of the “Do the right thing” school of thought, even if he gains no benefit from his actions, and he has stood (and continues to stand) as a very positive role-model for young audiences.

Final Thoughts

While Bridge of Tears was released over three years ago, I felt it was a title that needed to be examined again. Too often, Sakai’s work is overlooked because it’s published by Dark Horse. Now, Dark Horse is not a sketchy publishing company, but the majority of it’s titles are aimed at older audiences, and many teachers, parents and librarians tend to dismiss them out of hand when it comes to younger audiences. I have always enjoyed Usagi Yojimbo, and while it’s not a title I would have my 6 year old reading, I’ll be hanging on to them until he’s 9 or 10, and then introducing him to the amazing world of Stan Sakai. That being said, this series is great for Japanese studies, and would make a good parallel to the Naruto series. While the ending of the story arc is a little rough, I still recommend this to grades 5 and up.

25 June 2012

25 June 2012–Long Overdue Updates and a Review


My gosh, has it been two months? Man time files when you’re preparing for the biggest event of your professional life.

I’m talking of course about the Rocky Mountain Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom (and the 1st Annual Denver Comic Con). I met many, many cool people, made some new friends, and learned lots of new things.

(If things look different, I was having major problems with my computer, so I had to start from scratch. I’m still not back to where I was.)

Regardless, The conference and subsequent convention was a huge success (I have a huge write up of the events forthcoming over at the digital magazine The  Spot – I’ll post a link to it when it’s up), and that’s what I’m talking about today. At the convention, I finally got to meet Jimmy Gownley (a long time dream come true) as well as Jeremy Whitley.

Those of you who are familiar with my work know how much I adore Jimmy Gownley’s works. His series Amelia Rules! is one of my first round picks when people ask me what their kids should be reading. I can now add Jeremy Whitley & M. Goodwin’s work Princeless to my suggestions. Before I get too far gone, let’s make it official.


Image Courtesy Action Lab Comics

Written By Jeremy Whitley, Illustrated by M. Goodwin

Action Lab Comics, 2012.

ISBN: 978-1-45079-894-5

$14.95, Ages 8+


Princess Adrienne is mad at her parents. Even after making her parents swear not to lock her in a tower with a dragon as a guardian when she turns 16, they do it anyways. Tired of being stuck in her tower, and tired of her dragon eating every suitor that comes along, Adrienne decides to do something about it, and rescues herself. Knowing her sisters have all suffered the same treatment, she sets out with the dragon, Sparky, and her half-dwarven friend Bedelia to rescue her sisters and prove to her folks that she doesn’t need a suitor to rescue her – she’s doing fine on her own. The only problem? Her dad, the king, thinks the warrior riding the dragon has killed his beloved daughter, and is throwing his entire kingdom behind the effort to kill the dragon and its rider.


The twist on the fairy tale has become quite popular in recent times, and the princess in a tower has been done many times (Shrek, Tangled), and the idea of a strong female lead has been around even longer. However, in the hands of a capable writer, these concepts can feel fresh and new; and that’s exactly what Whitley has done. Not only is Adrienne a strong, yet likable heroine, her discovery of “women’s armor” becomes not only an homage to those memorable articles of clothing from famous fantasy series, but a subversive, biting commentary on the stereotype of women warriors. The best part is that Whitley doesn’t come out and beat the reader over the head with this, but instead lets the characters reveal the absurdity of these concepts. Since this is still a “new” series, there are some rough patches, but that’s to be expected with any new series. While the main characters are off to a good start, the possibility for the supporting characters to slip into one-dimensionality seems to loom. Hopefully, we’ll see more character development of these supporting players soon.

Final Thoughts

Princeless is shaping up to be a great series – and I’m not just basing that off of my own take on the book. It’s already up for several Eisner Awards this year. Bolstering this fact is that not only is the protagonist female, she’s also African-American, which is a criminally overlooked character type in comics of any kind. Adrienne is one of those characters that needs to have more exposure – not just because of those two criteria, but because she is also empathetic, intelligent, caring and driven. Girls will like this book because the characters are ones they can identify with, and boys will like it for the fact that it’s got the staples of any good male-oriented fantasy. Princeless is one of those books that may not be good for teaching in class, but a few copies around the classroom for free reading will make a huge impact (especially on reluctant readers), libraries would be well advised to keep at least two copies on-hand, and it’s also a good book to have in the house. Definitely one worth hunting down.

As a side note, there is not a link to the TPB of Princeless as of yet. You can purchase individual issues (eBook or Dead Tree) over at Action Lab Comics website. In fact, I suggest you – I met Jeremy and his lovely wife, Alicia at Comic Con, and I’ve got to tell you – they are great people. I hope to run into them again, because they are a blast.


Now, as I stated previously, I finally got to meet the awesomely talented (and talentedly awesome) Jimmy Gownley at Denver Comic Con. In and of itself, that would have been a huge deal, but he let me know that he’s working on a new series due out next year. This new series “The Cartoonist” is autobiographical and details his first efforts at the age of 14 to self-publish comics. He’s also been working on a web strip called “Gracieland” with Ellen Toole Austin that is an absolute treat in and of itself as well.


Image Courtesy Jimmy Gownley

(note: cover is from a different edition)

Written and Illustrated by Jimmy Gownley

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-41698-607-2 (Atheneum TPB)

$10.99, Ages 8+


The fourth volume of Amelia McBride’s trials and tribulations takes us on a dizzying array of situations – from getting Captain Amazing to spy on her mom out on a date, to examining her family history, to her very first dance with a boy(!), Amelia proves once again that it can be extremely tough, yet rewarding, being a kid.


Gownley’s fourth book doesn’t sugar-coat the issues the characters face. From the terror and fear of a parent beginning to date again, to the potential loss of a loved one, or dealing with the realization that our heroes are no different from us, Amelia tackles these problems as any kid would. Is it painful to experience? yes. Is it forced or contrived? Absolutely not. There is a depth and warmth here that is honest and true. It’s been a long time since a story has moved me the way “The Things I Cannot Change” did, and I ‘ve never had to experience those events, but the way it is handled actually had me reaching for a tissue to dry my eyes. This is one of those books that will stick with you for the rest of your days.

Final Thoughts

Gownley’s characters have always been a fun read, and this book is no exception. His entire Amelia Rules! series is highly recommended, but When the Past is a Present should be considered required reading for any family that is going through deployment. A powerful, powerful book that needs to be read. In fact, the entire Amelia Rules! series is on my all time greatest reads list. If you haven’t read any of them yet, you’re doing yourself a major disservice.

25 April 2012

25 April 2012–Comic Con Update


Just got the news from Tsunami Media that they’ve added two new guests to the lineup at DCC this year. Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan from the Walking Dead (Glenn and Maggie) will be at the Con along side Chandler Riggs (Carl)! How sweet it is!

Here’s the press release:


Also, May 1, ticket prices are set to go up, so if you haven’t gotten them yet, now is the time!

23 April 2012

23 April 2012–News and a review (In that order!)




So a couple of days ago, I told you all about the The Graphic Textbook Kickstarter program, well I took the plunge and pledged my support for the book! I’m super excited to see this program get the green light, but they need your support!



In other news, the DCC clock is ticking down, we’re now under two months away from the biggest Comic Book Con in Colorado. I’m getting giddy with anticipation, and can’t wait to see all the cool kids hanging out together! I just hope they’ll let me join.

Speaking of deadlines, I will be completing my B.A. in English – Writing from CMU in just under a week and a half, and I’m putting myself back out on the market. If anyone is looking for  a writer with a magnificent command of the English language, who has published a book about books, and is wanting to pursue a masters degree in library science, please give me a holler. I work well with others, and I’m always looking for a new challenge. I need to dust off (update) my resume, but I will be posting it within the week – Barring (or baring, as a friend was so kind to point out) any last minute issues with school.


Anyways, enough about me: let’s get to why you’re really here – this week’s review



Image Courtesy :01 Second Books

Written and Illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks

:01 Second Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-556-8 (TPB)

$15.99, Ages 12 +


Maggie has spent her entire life being homeschooled. Now that she’s entering high school, she takes the plunge that her brothers before her did – entering public school. At first it’s terrifying – she doesn’t know anyone, her brothers are keeping an eye on her, but ever since their mom took off, Maggie has felt lost. Soon she befriends two “outcasts”, Lucy and Alistair. Maggie begins to learn the ins and outs of high school, but she’s got one nagging problem – she’s also haunted.


Hicks originally produced Friends with Boys as a web comic, and was picked up by :01 Second. Hicks has done work for :01 Second before, her previous book being Brain Camp with Susan Kim and Laurence Clavan. While I liked the artwork in Brain Camp, I was just completely blown away with it in Friends with Boys. Her characters facial expressions are such that entire stories are told in one glance. Very few artists I know can do this, and Hicks makes it seem like it’s an every day occurrence. Maggie is a charming, entertaining young protagonist who you can’t help but like and root for from page one. Her brother Daniel (the eldest), has that cool, laid-back, Zen-like thespian vibe without coming off as self-important of elitist. The twins, Lloyd and Zander, have hints of another famous pair of twins from across the pond (hint, their good friend has a lightning bolt scar), but define themselves as individuals – which becomes a sub-plot in the story for the two of them. Alistair and Lucy are brilliant additions to help define Maggie – a little awkward, a little unsure of themselves, but honest and believable. The sub-plot with the ghost really drives home the idea that not everything in life is going to resolve itself nicely eventually; sometimes things are left unfinished, or unexplained, and we just have to come to terms with that fact.

Final Thoughts

I was honestly dreading this review today. Not because I don’t like the book – I love it. I think it’s one of the best books to come along since Craig Thompson’s opus Blankets back in 2005. No, the reason I was worried about this review was due to the fact that I was afraid I couldn’t do the book enough justice. Friends with Boys is, hands down, my personal pick for the Eisner award for best book of the year. It is funny without being schmaltzy, deep without being pretentious, emotional without being overwrought, and uplifting without being corny or clichéd. It’s a powerfully beautiful book that I consider an honor to have in my home. Parents, if you have kids that are getting into high school, get this book. As for librarians, you may want to get two copies, because once word gets out, it’s going to be tough keeping it on the shelves. Teachers, this one you might give a pass to, but only because it’ll prove to be too much of a distraction in class. Regardless, this one is going right next to my copy of Blankets, because great works of graphic lit need to stick together.


*edit* BTW: if you want a 20 page teaser, check out friendswithboys.com