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.
Action Lab: Dog of Wonder #1
Action Lab Entertainment/$3.99
Written by Vito Delsante and Scott Fogg.
Art by Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt.
In Action Lab: Dog of Wonder #1, the Action Lab Entertainment logo (a jetpack-wearing golden labrador retriever) comes to life and begins to crack the case of missing doggies in Canaan City. To start, we learn about the life of a pitbull pup named Lucky who was used as a bait dog for a dog fighting ring. Seriously? Am I crying already on page two? Yup. But don’t worry, Lucky gets rescued not once, but twice: first by animal control and then by Action Lab, when his fate at the shelter starts looking grim. And thus, we learn the mission of Action Lab: to save dogs that need rescuing.
Writers Vito Delsante and Scott Fogg have created a cute story with a serious message, one that children and adults who love animals will gravitate towards. It can be used for teaching moments on how we treat others—human and canine; not not judging a book by its cover; being respectful of others, and so on. Rosy Higgins and Ted Brandt’s artwork uses soft colors and lines to give a visually soothing appearance. The panels are large and not super text heavy, which can make it an easier read for this age group. Action Lab: Dog of Wonder #1 is a good intro to the characters and themes for this new monthly comic.
Teen Titans Go! #14
Written by Sholly Fisch and Ivan Cohen.
Art by Lea Hernandez and Marcelo Di Chiara.
Any fan of the Teen Titans Go! Cartoon Network series can’t help but get excited for further adventures off-screen with our favorite characters, and issue #14 gives us two stories that do just that. In Sholly Fisch and Lea Hernandez’s first story, “Wishful Thinking,” Starfire’s belief in fairy godmothers is so strong hers actually shows up, and Beast Boy characteristically takes advantage of satisfying every whim. In the second story, “Upgrade Downgrade” by Ivan Cohen and Marcello Di Chiara, Cyborg upgrades the Tower’s computer system with “Mallah-Ware” and things start going haywire as Beast Boy plays his new video game.
Like the cartoon, the comic provides a more youthful, playful take on these DC characters, often involving plots with out-of-control silliness. (And I appreciate that.) In the more Teen+ versions of DC’s comics, things can get far too dark and serious, so a comic like Teen Titans Go! can be a fun-filled relief for adult fans of these characters, as well as a means to share them with the children in their lives. In all honesty, this is my favorite version of Starfire. A great read for kids and kids at heart who still get up on the weekends for cartoons.
Adventure Time: Ice King #2
Written by Emily Partridge and Pranas T. Naujokaitis.
Art by Natalie Andrewson and Andrew Brinkman.
We continue our six-part miniseries focusing on the Ice King in Adventure Time’s latest limited series. I will not lie, after reading this issue I got even more excited to see how this will eventually play out. At the end of the first issue, the Ice King had been invited by the cool wizards – the Dark Moon Esbats – to join them in their secret meeting. But Ice King thinks himself so uncool, he decides to enlist the help of the hippest vampire he knows, Marceline. Then the makeover fun begins! A series of shopping montages at the mall with additional support from Princess Bubblegum, and Ice King has found the perfect outfit to impress his new “friends.”
One thing I appreciate about this issue is that it’s slowly building the overall story, with a little detour involving other characters in the Adventure Time universe. Emily Partridge’s story with Pranas T. Naujokaitis’ scripting is conversational and humorous. In one funny moment that stands out, Lumpy Space Princess channels her inner Chris Farley as a Gap Girl while gorging on fries. Natalie Andrewson’s art and Andrew Brinkman’s coloring add the level of familiar whimsy we love with all Adventure Time books. This is a miniseries I’m truly enjoying, and I cannot wait for the next issue.
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Dragons #3
Story and art by Hannah Christenson.
Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Dragons is a very cool anthology series that was revived by Archaia, and based on a TV series in the late 80s created by–you guessed it–Jim Henson. Each volume in the series includes work by a number of different writers and artists, and covers folklore and fairy tales of a particular topic. In 2014, they started with Witches, and in this new run we get Dragons. In issue #3 (of four) we get the pleasure of a Russian tale, Albina, written and drawn by Hannah Christenson. The story follows the powerful and mighty Albina, and her quest to be a loyal warrior for a kingdom. When the opportunity arises for her to fight the three-headed dragon Tugarin, after it insults Prince Vladimir and his wife, she uses her wit and strength to defeat the beast.
Holy moly, this book! From the moment you lay your eyes on the cover you know you’re in for something fantastic. Christenson beautifully combines her talents into a captivating story. In the original tale, the dragon slayer is not a woman, but I appreciate the gender swapping for the retelling. Although the story’s themes and plot points stay true to the original, the artwork leaves the door open for the imagination. Visually, this book is extraordinarily moving, with its fiery reds and soft golden browns. This is a great book for anyone interested in folklore and fantasy, and I would also recommend it for younger teens, if this is their thing.
(Where we discuss the classics that everyone should read.)
Page by Paige
Amulet Books, 2011
By Laura Lee Gulledge.
In Laura Lee Gulledge’s graphic novel Page by Paige, we get a coming-of-age, finding-your-place story about an introverted sixteen-year-old named Paige. She moves from the only home she’s known (Charlottesville, VA) to bustling New York City (well, Brooklyn, to be precise) and in order to not get completely lost she finds her voice through her sketchbook, and learns to create friendships that support and encourage her authentic self.
Gulledge’s artwork is what makes this story so impactful. Full pages depict the actual pages within Paige’s sketchbook (say that three times fast), and take the whole “fish out of water” plot and personalize it, allowing the reader to understand this character by more than just her words or actions. I really enjoyed that identifiable aspect. As a teen, these are majorly relevant themes in your life, and finding a balance of becoming who you are and what you are expected to be can be tough. Gulledge creates a poignantly personal story that’s easy to get lost in. I recommend this for any creative teen in your life who may need that little extra push to go for it.
That’s it for this week! Has Books For Babes help you out at all? We want to know! Feel free to send feedback our way in the comments section below.