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.
Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems #1
Written by Josceline Fenton.
Art by Chrystin Garland; colors by Leigh Luna.
The first of a four-part miniseries, Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems begins with Steven taking the Gems on a camping trip, something they’ve never done before. Like all good outdoor adventures this one involves building a fire, s’mores, and spooky stories…and the Gems put their knowledge and skill to each activity, with a major learning curve. After Pearl tells the tale of the Glass Ghost things get really weird, and we are left with a big reveal to keep us hanging until the next issue.
Josceline Fenton does a lovely job capturing the attitudes and characteristics of these familiar Cartoon Network characters. The Gems doing something as mundane as camping is what makes this story so fun: they don’t fully grasp how it’s “supposed” to go. Pearl sums it up nicely by saying, “It’s just odd humans would build homes, only to go back to sleeping outside.” (Which if you know me, that is exactly how I feel about the great outdoors.) Chrystin Garland’s art combined with Leigh Luna’s colors give the book a dreamy but vibrant feel. Younger audiences will easily comprehend the story and although there isn’t an overwhelming amount of dialogue, it may be something best shared with an older reader due to some possibly unfamiliar words for younger readers.
The Adventures of Luna the Vampire #3
Written by Yasmin Sheikh.
Art by Yasmin Sheikh.
In the third issue of Yasmin Sheikh’s The Adventures of Luna the Vampire, we continue with the slice-of-life shenanigans of a galactic vampire curmudgeon and her universe of colorful characters. Both stories center on Luna and how she reacts in social settings. Read my full review here.
Gotham Academy #16
Written by Brendan Fletcher, James Tynion IV, and Ken Niimura.
Art by Adam Archer, Sandra Hope, Christian Wildgoose, and Ken Niimura.
Gotham Academy’s “Yearbook” storyline is on its third chapter (of four), and is still going strong. As in the previous two issues, multiple creative teams take our favorite boarding school students through playful and fun stories surrounding Maps’ memories.
In James Tynion IV and Christian Wildgoose’s “Maps’ Day Out,” we get a glimpse of Maps’ love of Batman and her quest to meet him and become his sidekick. In just four pages, Tynion excellently scripts a sweet story, while Wildgoose complements the dialogue with expressive faces, perfectly communicating her excitement, disappointment, and hope. In the longer story, “Boring Sundays,” writer/artist Ken Niimura takes our teens on a mystery-seeking adventure. Niimura’s simple lines and cartoonish style give a different but pleasant feel to the story, which ultimately is about Maps behaving a tad bit mischievously to cure the doldrums of a Sunday afternoon. That is what so great about these stories: utilizing different writers and artists for each story allows their talents to give a new perspective to the Gotham Academy crew. This arc has definitely been a treat.
Ms. Marvel #5
Written by G. Willow Wilson.
Art by Nico Leon; coloring by Ian Herring.
Ms. Marvel #5 is the second installment of a three-part story arc involving what Kamala (and well, most of us) tries to find a way to balance daily: multitasking. For us mortals, it’s about time management, but for Kamala, having access to duplicate-creating technology to help tackle her multitudes of day-to-day activities (school, homework, family stuff, Avenging) seems like a good solution…until it decidedly isn’t. Thanks to some neurotoxins inadvertently mixed in during the replication process, the dupes are causing way more trouble than they’re worth. Now Kamala has even more on her plate and she isn’t saving any time, plus she has to find a way to get rid of them.
Willow Wilson does such an excellent job allowing this character to transcend age, religion, and culture to give us a relatable and endearing character. There is a reason why Ms. Marvel is such a fan favorite, especially with teens. Nico Leon’s art for this arc is also on point. From the little details that fill in the surroundings of a scene (shout out to the pizza in the lab!) to the ability to have the characters emote such realness is fantastic. Overall a fantastic series, and looking forward to the next issue’s resolution.
(Where we discuss the classics that everyone should read.)
To the Heart of the Storm
Kitchen Sink Press, 1991
By Will Eisner.
When it comes to comics, there’s no man more iconic than the father of the graphic novel, Will Eisner. In his 1991 autobiographical book, To the Heart of the Storm, we are introduced to a young man named Willie who is on a train to training camp after being drafted during World War II. The train ride consists of him looking out the window and reliving the memories of growing up in Brooklyn in the 20s and 30s. He specifically remembers dealing with blatant anti-Semitism surrounding his family, and the stories of his parents’ upbringing and marriage.
I would recommend this book for middle school and up. Although the themes are serious (Bigotry! Discrimination! Bullying! Poverty!), they are presented in a way that is easy to understand and allows the reader to empathize with others, making it more universal. The artwork black and white and utilizes great detail throughout, be it era -specific clothing, newspaper letterheads, and speech of the time. This is a great book to reflect upon things that shape our formative years, on into adulthood. Lucky for us, Will Eisner didn’t allow his adversities to stop him from becoming the revered, talented man he is remembered as today.
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.