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.
Star vs. The Forces of Evil #1
Joe Books LTD./$2.99
Written by Zach Marcus.
Art by Devin Taylor, Cindy Plourde, Cristina Stella, and Wes Dzioba.
Letters by Brandon DeStefano.
I love a good magical girl book, and Star vs The Forces of Evil #1 introduces us to one within the Disney realm. Fourteen-year-old Princess Star Butterfly has just been given her family’s magical wand (the first page and secondary story give the full backstory on all this) and has been charged to do good things with it on Earth. In the first issue, Star and Marco discover Star’s bestie, Pony Head, has been accused of vandalizing and stealing the Waterfolk’s most sacred artifact, and they rush down into the sea to help out. Things are a bit fishy when they arrive and Star does her best to get Pony Head out of this jam.
Princess Star Butterfly is the eponymous character of an animated Disney TV series created by Daron Nefcy, and while the comic is completely original, it’s great to see familiar characters in new storylines. Writer Zach Marcus and illustrator Devin Taylor both work on the show, so both words and visuals are very much in line with what we’ve seen before. Star vs The Forces of Evil #1 is really fun and even kids unfamiliar with the show will still enjoy reading it.
Graphix (an imprint of Scholastic), 2016
Written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier.
Raina Telgemeier is a multiple Eisner Award winner and New York Times best-selling author/illustrator for a reason: she consistently creates relatable and heartfelt stories that are excellent for any age. In her new (and newly acclaimed) book Ghosts, she continues her usual focus on family dynamics and the love shared within. Catrina (Cat) and her family are moving from their SoCal home to the NorCal city of Bahía De La Luna (Telgemeier’s hometown) due to her younger sister Maya’s cystic fibrosis, in the hopes that the cooler air will help with her treatment. Of course, Cat struggles with leaving the only life and friends she has ever known, but soon realizes that Bahía De La Luna is not like anyplace she has ever experienced before.
The main reason? In addition to all the humans that live there, a large number of inhabitants are ghosts, and they make their presence known periodically (but especially on November 1st, Día De Los Muertos). Cat is very freaked out by this and feels the need to protect her sister from all the supernatural-ness happening though Maya is unafraid. Over time, Cat recognizes her fear stems from the fact that her sister is ill and is not invincible. However, there is a sweet ending that makes us realize the importance of the people we’re close to in our lives, and how much we value them. A great book for the Halloween season, and one that kids in this age group and above will really enjoy.
The Backstagers #2
Written by James Tynion IV.
Art by Rian Sygh and Walter Baiamonte.
Letters by Jim Campbell.
Jory has officially left the idea of being an actor in the drama club and is now settling in as part of the backstage crew. However, he still has a lot more questions about all the magical weirdness that seems to permeate everything. The others are not as interested in finding out the why, so it’s up to Jory to continue being the detective of the group. This issue also focuses on the relationship he is forming with Hunter as they go on a quest through the tunnels to find the paint room. It’s not as easy as it sounds as they forget their path and have to deal with (shudder) echo spiders. We also meet Timothy and Jamie, the stage managers, and get further insight into the mysteriously missing backstage crew from 1987.
Writer James Tynion IV has created a fantastic and whimsical world set in what is already one of the most magical of places: high school theatre. Ask any former “theatre kid” (is there such a thing as a former theatre kid though, really?) about their time in drama and a sense of nostalgia, pride, and excitement more than likely comes through. A comic series that takes place in that world, specifically with the backstage crew, pushes all the right buttons. Rian Sygh and Walter Baiamonte’s artwork is perfectly fitting for the overall feel of this book: cute, cartoonish, and colorful. A great new series for the theatre kid in your life or the one that still lives inside you.
Josie and the Pussycats #1
Written by Marguerite Bennett and Cameron DeOrdio.
Art by Audrey Mok; coloring by Andre Szymanowicz.
Letters by Jack Morelli.
It’s another reboot of familiar characters in the Archie universe, this time with Riverdale’s favorite all-girl rock band, Josie and the Pussycats! Even though many in this age group may not remember the cartoon or the original comics, I can’t think of a better start to introduce new readers or reintroduce Josie, Valerie, and Melody than in this first issue. I also think friendship is going to be a strong theme to this series, and I think that no matter where the ladies will go it will all come back to that to get them through. Read my full review here.
(Where we discuss the classics that everyone should read.)
Graphix (an imprint of Scholastic), 2010
Written and illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi.
You know the old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover?” Well, I’ll be honest with you, I did with this book, and I was wrong (but in a very good way). Looking at the cover of Kazu Kibuishi’s Copper you see a cute teen guy with his equally cute dog, and you might think, “Oh, this is probably a good book for the kiddos”. And it is…somewhat. (It is in the juvenile section after all.) I would recommend this one for middle school age and up, mainly due to the topics and overall themes: more life lessons and reminders to us on a human condition level. Originally a web-comic, Kibuishi has taken a handful of his strips and put them in a book that makes a great introduction to Copper and his dog, Fred, as they go through life on adventures contemplating their existence and interactions they have with each other and those around them.
There are forty-five individual standalone comics in this book and they are mainly one-page each, with the exception of a handful that span a few pages to tell the story. Because of that, Copper is a quick read, but again the themes will stick with you, and you’ll find yourself thinking back on it well after you’ve put the book down. The artwork is soft in its colors, are cute in a cartoonish way; I could see this easily as animation. I also very much enjoyed that in the last few pages, Kibuishi goes through his process of drawing Copper with a behind the scenes step-by-step. A great book for anyone who is a fan of the web-comic, or in search of a comic that has a lot of humanity.
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.