16 January 2012

16 January 2012– A Slight Change in Programming (for this week)

Normally, I don’t review books that have been out for a while, and I rarely (if ever) review technical books, but the two books I’m reviewing tonight are exceptions to the rule. I’ve been so impressed with these two books, that I felt it would be absolutely criminal to not discuss these books.

Binky Under Pressure


Image Courtesy Kids Can Press

Written and Illustrated by: Ashley Spires
Kids Can Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55453-504-0 (hardback)
$16.95 Ages:  7 and up

Binky the cat is back, and life is good. He’s still an official certified space cat, but the problems he once faced seem so… mundane now. He can defeat alien invaders without leaving his bed, and nothing seems challenging anymore, until one day, a new kitty appears in his space ship. Not one to take occurrences like this lying down, Binky investigates and discovers a frightening secret – one that could get him kicked out of F.U.R.S.T. (Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel)! Now, Binky not only has to prove he’s worthy of maintaining his status, but must also deal with a surprise alien invasion!
Binky is a character that the majority of kids can immediately identify with. He is charismatic, fun, endearing, and as human as a cat can be. Having to deal with the pressures of being upstaged (and fearing replacement) are topics that a lot of kids experience, regardless of the reality of the situation. Spires has created a series that while on the surface seems to be a silly cat story, really carries some emotional heft to it. Her artwork is clean and inviting, and Binky’s expressions have to be seen to be truly appreciated.
Final Thoughts
Binky is a great addition to any kid’s personal library. Public libraries and schools would do well to have at least one copy of this book (it wouldn’t hurt to have a copy of the previous book either). Binky is a fun and funny romp with an adorable protagonist who is just too much fun to be read once. This is a definite keeper.


Drawing Words & Writing Pictures


Image Courtesy :01 Second Books

Written and Illustrated by Jessica Abel & Matt Madden
:01 Second Books, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59643-131-7
$34.99 Ages: 14 and up
Jessica Abel and Matt Madden, veterans of the Graphic Novel scene as well as accomplished teachers have written “A definitive course from concept to comics in 15 lessons”. Presented in much the same way they teach their classes, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures is not some simple Christopher Hart, draw-it-in-a-weekend sort  of book (not that Hart’s books are bad – I grew up on them), but an actual tutorial that aims to teach the dedicated how to write and draw comics.
When I first got this book, I was figuring it was going to be along the lines of most other drawing books with the pencil outlines, etc. While this book does have those, it also approaches the subject from a multitude of angles, offering up not only insights on how to make your art, but why. Abel and Madden don’t strive to push a certain style (in fact, they spend time focused on minimalist artwork, showing how it can be just as impactful as a photorealistic piece), but seek to encourage the reader to find their own style and pace. As you read the book, you forget that you’re not actually in a classroom with these two talking to you.
Final Thoughts
This book is not for everyone. However, if you have the drive and perseverance to get through it, the rewards are innumerable. I have read almost every single book on how to write or draw comics out there, and this book really causes all the others to pale in comparison. You can actually find copies of this book online for cheap, and they have a new book covering graphic novels slated for later this year that I hope to get a copy of. I ‘m not going to lie to you – this is not a book for casual use. What you get out of it is what you put in, and if you’re not dedicated, don’t bother. But, if you really want to hone your skills, this is a definite must have in your library.

No comments:

Post a Comment