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.
Over the Garden Wall #1
Written by Jim Campbell and Amalia Levari.
Art by Jim Campbell and Cara McGee.
Over the Garden Wall was created by Pat McHale as a mini-series on Cartoon Network, and garnered enough popularity to merit a limited comic series supplementing the show’s story. After those few issues finished, many fans were left wanting more. Annnnnd now, we get it! Over the Garden Wall #1 is the first issue in a now ongoing series promising two original stories in each issue. Hooray!!! The fairytale-like nature of the stories as well as the beautifully done artwork make this a perfect comic for little ones, but it really should be a regular book for everyone.
In the first story, Dreamland Melody, writer/artist Jim Campbell has Greg getting ready for bed only to discover his ever name-changing frog (this time he’s Sheriff Funderberker) is leading him to solve a new case in Dreamland. Campbell’s writing and artistic style are very much in line with the show and his return to the series was an excellent move. In the second story, Homeland, Amalia Levari (who wrote for the show) teams up with the talented Cara McGee to start the tale of the Woodsman’s daughter, Anna, learning how to be on her own. Overall this book is a strong start to a new series that leaves us ready and waiting for the next issue.
Bee and Puppycat #11
Story by Patrick Seery.
Art by Ji in Kim.
Bee and Puppycat is a book that adds a little sweetness to your day, and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy after reading it. Usually the duo of Bee and her loyal friend Puppycat (Is he a cat? A puppy? Who knows, but he is aaaadorable!) are out taking care of magical business, but in issue 11, we focus on a normal day around the house, and Puppycat is acting weird! When Bee discovers he’s under the weather she does her best to make him feel better, even if that means she has to trick him into taking his medicine.
Even without a big magical sequence in this issue, Patrick Seery allows our characters to shine through in something as normal as taking care of a sick friend. Bee’s concern for Puppycat allows her to interact with Deckard and Cardamon by asking for help and advice in a natural and realistic way. Ji in Kim’s artwork is soft and dreamy enhancing the book’s sugary feel. The humorous payoff comes at the end when the story is The story wraps up with a humorous payoff, as Puppycat gets back at Bee for sneaking in his medicine: the best way to close out this slice-of-life issue.
Rocket Raccoon & Groot #5
Written by Skottie Young.
Art by Jay Fosgitt; colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
Well, kiddos, are you buckled in? We’re about to go on one crazy adventure of a story, told by scout leaders Rocket Raccoon and Groot to their group of intergalactic scouts. Rocket and Groot are enjoying fancy drinks on a beach courtesy of their “Vacatiocube” when they are rudely interrupted by Gunhild of the Elmhold Clan, who kidnaps them because Rocket has a box of great value to her people. When she takes them back to her home planet, all sorts of craziness unfolds, including their King believing Groot is their God. The story has a lot of fun twists and turns that end with a moment of catharsis.
Writer Skottie Young keeps this book greatly entertaining for a younger audience, but more and more adults are catching on to how good this book is. Though the dialogue is succinct and fast-paced, the references are often aimed at those who are older (like that Doc Hollywood one for example). Jay Fosgitt and Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s art and coloring combine to create a lovely visual, especially with the full page action scenes and larger panels that showcase explosions. Also the characters are vivid and colorful, and the art team ensures these intergalactic beings are as whimsical or outlandish as their imagination makes them. I really enjoyed this issue, and know that it’s one that can easily be shared with all the members of your family.
Black Widow: Forever Red
Marvel Press, 2015
Written by Margaret Stohl.
Despite the absolute non-existence of female-led superhero films, many women (including myself) are enormous fans of the (oft male-centric) Marvel movies. However, it’s recently been announced that Marvel is “committed” to a Black Widow movie (finally), and this is major news for so many reasons. After hearing half-baked excuses like “It won’t be lucrative” or “Can Black Widow even carry her own film?” for so long, I now want to send every Hollywood-type who will be working on this film a copy of Margaret Stohl’s young-adult novel Black Widow: Forever Red, and say “Adapt this. Please.” The story is about two of the Red Room’s most entangled women, Natasha Romanoff and Ava Orlova, in an adventure of revenge, survival, and forgiveness.
Young adult novels allow superheroes the more detailed character development often surrendered to the fast-paced, action-oriented nature of comic books. Forever Red really gets inside these characters’ heads. Stohl’s writing stays true to the characters, specifically Natasha: we see her back story in a new way that helps us feel (but not feel sorry for) the impact of her youth and how it shapes her decisions as an Avenger today. Throw in another Russian gal, Ava, and her history with the Red Room and the Black Widow, and you get a whole other world of perspective (and possibly more stories). This is a great book for teens (and older) to delve deeper into a back story and character study of one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most interesting and enigmatic heroes. I can only hope the future movie is this engaging.
(Where we discuss the classics that everyone should read.)
Henry Holt and Company, 2006
Written and drawn by Lauren R. Weinstein.
Lauren R. Weinstein’s graphic novel Girl Stories started out as a series of short comics for teen girls’ website gURL.com, that eventually resulted in a huge fan base showering the site with overwhelming amounts of emails (from gals and some guys too!) about her engaging strips. These emails proved how relatable Weinstein’s comics were, and of course, putting them together in one hilarious book (with expanded and new content) was a no-brainer.
Weinstein takes memories of her adolescence in Brookline, MA and, in short comic vignettes (some with more than one part), portrays them in her unique artistic style. Growing up ain’t for the weak, and she addresses many topics, including bullies; embarrassing parents; boyfriends; breakups; best friends; figuring out how to be cool; body image and self-esteem issues; trying to figure it all out…and on and on and on. Weinstein takes these universal themes and allows us to see ourselves in her experiences, because whether you are currently a teen or have ever been a teen, this stuff is incredibly resonant.
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.