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.
My First Book of Super-Villains
Downtown Bookworks, 2014
Written by David Bar Katz and Morris Katz.
Art by Wayne Boring, Rich Buckler, John Byrne, Vince Colletta, Joe Giella, Carmine Infantino, Stan Kaye, Karl Kesel, Bob Layton, Irv Novick, Al Plastino, and Tom Ziuko.
Board books are great for little ones not only because of their general sturdiness compared to their paper–paged counterparts, but they tend to be easy to read and simple enough to follow along with for comprehension. There is a popular series of DC Comics board books that fit this bill, featuring heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman, teaching things like ABCs and 123s, shapes and colors.
In David Bar Katz and Morris Katz’s My First Book of Super-Villains, they teach the difference between right and wrong using some of DC’s most iconic villains and heroes. For example, “the Joker plays nasty tricks on people. Batman makes everyone feel safe” and “Cheetah is dishonest. Wonder Woman tells the truth.” Basic sentence structure packed with a moral punch! The artwork comes from a variety of well-known DC artists that will be very familiar. With the new Suicide Squad movie release, little ones may have an interest (because superheroes) while it’s obviously not a good flick to take them to: but a book like this can teach them about the villains and how dastardly they really are compared to the heroes.
Disney’s Frozen #1
Joe Books LTD/$2.99
Written by Georgia Ball.
Art by Benedetta Barone.
The popularity of Disney’s Frozen has yet to cool off completely, so we’re guaranteed a constant influx of new merchandising and various media offshoots of the film. So… why not comics? In this new comic series, the film’s characters can now take young readers on brand-new adventures in Arendelle (and beyond) with Elsa and Anna at the center.
Writer Georgia Ball (Strawberry Shortcake and Disney Princess) and artist Benedetta Barone (Chip ‘n’ Dale and Disney Fairies) are no strangers to this kind of book, having both experience with both children-centered writing and with Disney properties in current and past projects. In the first issue of Frozen, there are two stories that center on making peace between two groups with differing agendas, and discovering a secret passage in the castle. The writing is simple enough for new readers to understand, and this would be a good one for them to practice with.
Like many children-focused books, the space for a lesson or a teachable moment is there. The art is very fitting in the Disney cartoon style, and the colors make it seem like it could be live-animated. I think this will be an enjoyable series for fans of the movie hungry for more from these characters, and a great way to keep the interest going as we all wait for the movie sequel.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #5
Written by Kyle Higgins.
Art by Tony Silas; colors by Bryan Valenza.
In this single issue flashback story, Kyle Higgins and guest artist Thony Silas weave us a tale about who Rita Repulsa tried to seduce to the dark side to become her Green Ranger before Tommy. And, well, spoiler: that person is Zach, the Black Ranger. After the team defeats Rita’s monster in Italy, the praise goes towards Jason (the Red Ranger), even though Zach did the bulk of the hero work. Rita—sensing the possibility of preying on Zach’s jealousy and anger over the situation—offers him a deal where he could always be seen as the victor. But as enticing as that sounded, (he is human after all), his loyalties remained with his friends and Zordon.
In any team, there is always competition and rivalry within, but ultimately the greater good of the group should win out if the team functions correctly. Higgins has established that Zach is an integral team player, and having actually had the opportunity to be the Green Ranger gives us more insight to him as a character. Sila’s artwork is lovely and detailed, keeping the familiar things (like the Power Rangers’ costumes) in classic form while still adding his own creative spin. Overall, a great issue that provides some insight into one of the team and more backstory to the Green Ranger.
Written by Mark Waid.
Art by Veronica Fish; coloring by Andre Szymanowicz with Jen Vaughn.
Lettering by Jack Morelli.
Allegiances are formed, friendships are tested, and what you thought you knew of someone may no longer be true. In Archie issue #10, it with a bang—a firey one to exact—that causes a rift between Archie and Betty. In true Archie nature it all starts with a misunderstanding that escalates as others start getting involved. But will it actually ever be resolved? Read my full review here.
(Where we discuss the classics that everyone should read.)
Little Fish: A Memoir from a Different Kind of Year
Zest Books, 2013
Written and illustrated by Ramsey Beyer.
As summer break nears its end, a whole new class of recent high school graduates will be first stepping foot on college and university campuses, ushering in a new sense of worry and excitement. If you have young adults this age in your life, feel free to slip a copy of Ramsey Beyer’s Little Fish into their backpack. This is a memoir of a then eighteen-year-old art school freshman told from her actual lists, collages, artwork, and real-life journals. It navigates the first year from her leaving her small Midwestern Michigan town through the end of her first year at school in Baltimore. The title comes from her mother telling her as she gets dropped off at her dorm that she is now like the old adage states, “a little fish in a big pond.”
Even though Beyer’s freshman experience was very different from my own, and will be for others as well, I did like the way she captured every hope, anxiety, risk, and payoff in a relatable and honest way. It’s more about processing the life changes that are coming to you in real time through your art or journaling, and then how you handle them. If anything, it will allow readers to feel that they aren’t alone in the whole growing-into-adulthood thing. It might even encourage and inspire others to document their first year as well. Which is a better way to remember that era than trying to work off that freshman-fifteen.
That’s it for this week! Has Books For Babes helped you out at all? We want to know! Feel free to send feedback our way in the comments section below.