By Stefania Rudd. Do you have little ones in your life who are drawn to the world of comics through movies, cartoons, and video games, but you’re not sure what to start them with, or even know what’s appropriate?
We got you! Books For Babes aims to provide info on what books kids will enjoy, but can also be entertaining for adults. One can never start too early — or too late — in building a solid comic book foundation.
The Adventures of Luna the Vampire #1
Written and illustrated by Yasmin Sheikh.
In writer/artist Yasmin Sheikh’s debut comic The Adventures of Luna the Vampire, we get enthusiasm and silliness from three different stories making up Luna’s daily adventures. In the first, we meet Luna and get an idea of her personality and the world she inhabits, as she is trying to find the perfect dress for her uncle’s upcoming zombification ceremony. The second story has Luna lamenting over diet fads with her witch friend. And in the final story, Luna adopts a pet that isn’t what she bargained for. Adding to the book’s delightful whimsy, we even get a recipe for a healthy snack from Betsey Ringworm, a “model extraordinaire” (and actually a ringworm).
Sheikh does an excellent job at keeping this book lighthearted, while tackling some very relatable issues for the adults that may pick this up. For kids, this could be a good way to have conversations about body image and the responsibility of owning a pet. The writing is very easy to read and the sentence structuring is short, which is why those in the upper part of this age group may be able to handle it on their own. If not, it’s a good book to have an adult help them along with. The artwork ties into that overall eccentric vibe: colorful and detailed, at times it brought to mind Ren and Stimpy, with the silly-gross factor and big shiny eyes. Overall, a strong start for a series that I think will resonate with kids.
Adventure Time: Ice King #1
Story by Emily Partridge.
Written by Pranas Naujokaitis.
Art by Natalie Andrewson.
One reason why the Adventure Time comics have such a strong hold on their genre is they have a world full of robust and well-loved characters that at any point can get their turn in a featured comic. In the newest solo series, this six-part story is all about a fan favorite, the Ice King. In the first issue the Ice King awakes from a beautiful dream to discover his life has become a nightmare when his beloved penguin, Gunter, is missing. After some quick searching he finds a ransom note from Marble, one of the most dark and evil wizards to ever exist. After being asked to join the Dark Moon Esbats (who also have beef with Marble) on a mission to destroy him, Ice King accepts.
The creative team of Emily Partridge, Pranas Naujokaitis, and Natalie Andrewson do a fantastic job in kicking off this series. Since many fans of the show also read the comics, there is a consistency and familiarity that make it easy to get into. Even though the Ice King is by turns worried, angry, and sad in this issue, the humor is not lost; we see this especially when he fanboys after being asked to be part of the “cool kid” wizard secret society (the whole concept of varying wizards and their levels of “coolness” was fun to play with). Andrewson’s art is familiar, yet unique to her style, another positive about the Adventure Time books. I think fans of the show in this age group (and, honestly, all age groups) will enjoy the debut issue of this enjoyable story.
Written by Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh.
Art by Carey Pietsch and colors by Maarta Laiho.
In issue #22 of Lumberjanes we resume directly from the end of the previous issue, with our gals trying to help Seafarin’ Karen get her boat back from the selkies using their trademark teamwork and wit. While the majority of the girls develop a plan to build a bridge to get back the stolen boat, Molly and Mal have enlisted the help of Bear Woman, the last person they thought would be willing to aid them—and, to be fair, the last person they’d want to receive help from. Things are going… well, swimmingly, until they find a portal to the Land of Lost things, and Molly starts to question it all.
Artist Cary Pietsch joined the creative team last issue and brings our campers to life wonderfully, through their expressions and panel-by-panel flow of the story. It also is beautifully enhanced by Maarta Laiho’s coloring. Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh continue solid writing in these two and three-story arc issues. Though I’m not the outdoorsy-est of gals, I greatly enjoy spending time with these ladies as they deal with all the magical things that come their way.
Gotham Academy #14
Written by Brendan Fletcher, Derek Fridolfs, Katie Cook, and Hope Larson.
Art by Adam Archer, Dustin Nguyen, Katie Cook, Kris Mukai, and Sandra Hope.
The first issue of a four-part storyarc, Yearbook` has Maps and Olive taking time to reflect on the semester that was by scrapbooking their most memorable moments. It all begins when Maps is bummed she didn’t make it onto the Yearbook staff, and Olive presents her with a scrapbook to fill with all the stories she has in her head. This was an incredibly fun issue, and a nice thematic departure from the typical flashback tropes. Sometimes people get nervous for storylines of this kind, but done well they can easily become fan favorites (which is where I see this going).
As you can see above, a fairly large creative team worked on this book, with each “memory” written and drawn by different people. The main Maps and Olive story remained between the vignettes to introduce, and then move, them along. The different art styles aren’t what you’d call consistent, but they showcase each individual artist’s talents and fit the story they’re telling. The writing flows very well from segment to segment, and it isn’t too jarring to go from one to the next. Overall, it’s a creative and fun way to do an anthology arc, and one that should be great to have collected in a trade.
(Where we discuss the classics that everyone should read.)
Giants Beware! (Chronicles of Claudette #1)
First Second Publishing, 2012
Written by Jorge Aguirre.
Art by Rafael Rosado.
Many of the most notable graphic novels are intended for teens and adults, but it’s always nice to find one for the kiddos. And in Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado’s Giants Beware! (Chronicles of Claudette #1), we get just that. The story centers on spunky and fearless Claudette, whose sole ambition is to be as brave as her former dragon-slaying father. She thinks the best way to do this is by taking down a giant known to eat babies’ feet. With the help of her bestie Marie (a princess in training), her younger brother Gaston (an aspiring pastry chef), and her trusty pug Valiant, they embark beyond their city walls in search of this giant. Of course their feuding parents don’t approve, but the children find their own way of escape and begin their adventure.
At just over two-hundred colorful and large-paneled pages, Giants Beware! will easily consume a child’s storytime with fun and clever fantasy. Aguirre’s writing is heavy on themes of friendship, finding a purpose, and belonging, all in easy to understand dialogue. Rosado’s artwork accompanies the story nicely and keeps the story moving visually. This book is recommended for kids 8-12 years old, which is the reading level kids can handle it on their own; however, this story and its big heart is one that kids of any age will enjoy.
That’s it for this week! Did Books For Babes help you out at all? We want to know! Feel free to send feedback our way in the comments section below.