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Comics in the Classroom's First Annual Holiday Reading Picks - Part 2
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Article by Scott Tingley, December 22, 2007

As a comic fan who gets a lot of his information from comic websites, one of my favorite things about the holiday season are all the end-of-the-year-what-I-want-for-Christmas lists that many comic sites put up. I love reading them every year so I thought this site would give it a shot this time.

Part one featured answers from many of the comic people that I have come into contact with over the past year or so. Part two features answers from a couple of the site contributors, from a comic husband and wife teamm, a little thing from me - the boss around these parts ("boss" used very loosely in this instance) and an update featureing Mike Bullock. Here is what they were asked:

What did you read this year that you thought was the best thing for: Elementary aged readers; Middle school aged readers; Middle school aged readers; Adult readers like yourself?

And thanks so much to all that participated. I had a ball putting this together. - Scott

Mike Bullock (Creator and writer of Lions, Tigers and Bears; writer of The Phantom; boss at Runemaster Studios and host of CitC'c forum)

Elementary aged readers

Amelia Rules: The Whole World's Crazy. The quote that this was the modern day Peanuts was dead on.

Middle school aged readers

Invincible: Ultimate Collection. Lots of fun, action, adventure and just enough drama to suit any teenager.

Adult readers

The Phantom: Man Eaters. Well written and thought provoking. This might be the best thing I've ever read from Rafael Nieves.

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Tracy Edmunds: (Writer of The Big All-Ages List for CitC, All Ages Reads for Newsarama and for her own Blog)

Elementary aged readers

•  Owly, A Time to Be Brave (Vol. 4) . Owly is still my favorite for everyone, but especially for little ones. My niece and nephew are getting this book for Christmas -- we already gave them the first three and they love them.

•  Korgi is simply beautiful and also great for everyone.

• I really enjoyed Debbie Huey's terrific mini-comic, Bumperboy Learns How to Ride a Bike .

• A big surprise for me this year was The Ride Home by Joey Weiser -- what a fun book!

• And Scott Sava's Pet Robots , Trondheim 's Tiny Tyrant , and A Bit Haywire (from Viper), and Sara Varon's Robot Dreams .

• As far as “traditional” comics, I love Franklin Richards and the Power Pack series.

• I have to mention one webcomic – Zip and Lil' Bit is old-fashioned in the best way and captures the feel of classic children's literature.

Middle school aged readers

• I totally fell in love with Andy Watson's Glister -- very British and completely captivating.

• I liked both Laika , about the Russian space dog,(even though it made me bawl my eyes out) and First in Space , about American space chimps.

•  Houdini, the Handcuff King from Center for Cartoon Studies is top-notch.

•  Oddly Normal Volume 2 is just as great as the first.

• For girls I liked Mark Crilley's Miki Falls series. It's a romance with a bit of supernatural fantasy.

• From the Minx series I love The Re-Gifters by Mike Carey.

• Tokyopop's Kat & Mouse series is really enjoyable, and Mail Order Ninja is lots of fun.

• Oh, and there was a new Courtney Crumrin book - yay!

• The Scholastic Goosebumps series is also great – they've chosen some really talented people to adapt those stories and it shows.

Young Adult readers

•  Scott Pilgrim rocks totally.

•  The Professor's Daughter (It would be good for middle-schoolers as well).

•  The Umbrella Academy

•  Flight 3

•  My Dead Girlfriend

Adult readers

• I'm a huge Fables fan, and the spinoff, Jack of Fables is really great too.

• I also love anything Hellboy and Darkness Calls , the new BPRD series, and Lobster Johnson are awesome.

• For totally goofy (adult) fun I like the What Were They Thinking? series from Boom! Studios.

Rex Libris is one of the few comics I look forward to picking up on a
regular basis.

•R.I.P. Nextwave.  Funniest darn book ever.

Overall: I think the book that touched me the most this year and really brought home the value of the art form was Shaun Tan's The Arrival . It transcends language and age – the message is truly universal. That story just wouldn't be the same in any other medium. Comics can be magic.

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John Norris (Our very own writer of the weekly review column “ Cat's Meow ” – the iron man of the site [he doesn't even take Christmas off!])

Elementary aged readers

I'd say FRANKLIN RICHARDS because it's so much fun seeing the mischief he gets himself and H.E.R.B.I.E. into, and the POWER PACK minis because the kids get to work with superheroes and learn good life lessons in the process.

Middle school aged readers

I've really been impressed with the stories in THE BATMAN STRIKES lately, particularly "Pretty Poison" with Poison Ivy and "Hostile Takeover" with Black Mask.  They're intelligent and engaging stories.

Young Adult readers

Oh boy, I could go on and on.  There's Robert Kirkman's one-two punch of INVINCIBLE and THE ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN , but featuring spectacular art, great action and Kirkman's knack for writing dialogue that sounds very natural.  I'd recommend THE PHANTOM on the strength of the "Invisible Children" arc alone, but every issue is filled with the stuff you want in a solid adventure series and nothing that isn't needed.  And X-MEN:  FIRST CLASS is just plain fun.

Adult readers

I don't really read adult material, but I would say AGENTS OF ATLAS .  There's something about characters getting a second chance and not wanting to let the past dictate their future that adults will find appealing.  (I'm speaking as a young adult, of course.)
 
Overall:I'd have to say that my favorite book all around (so far this year) is Doug TenNapel's FLINK.  He takes a fantastic conceit--a boy meets Bigfoot--and makes the story resonate with profundity on every level.  Then he makes it accessible to everyone, young or old.
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Jimmy Gownley (creator of Amelia Rules! and head of Kid's Love Comics , an organization dedicated to increasing awareness and interest in kids' comics)

Adult readers

Walt Disney, Triumph of the American Imagination . A great, fair-minded, insightful biography of a facinating individual.


Middle school aged readers

John Gallagher's Buzzboy: Sidekicks Rule . Classic cartooning with laugh-out-loud funny gags.

Elementary aged readers

This may be a little on the young side, but we read this to our 4 year olds, and they just love it (as do we):

Knuffle Bunny 2 by Moe Willems . Always entertaining for both kids & parents. We all laughed out loud the first time we read it.


Karen Gownley (Marketing for Amelia Rules!, and KLC)

(I second the Knuffle Bunny vote)

Young Adult readers

I'm 20 years too late on this one, but I finally read Watchmen in its entirety (I had read parts of it many times over the years but never sat down and did it cover to cover).

It's just as amazing and groundbreaking as everyone had always told me. Definitely a must-read.

Adult readers

I'm ashamed to say I haven't done enough "grown up" reading this year (most of my time has been spent reading things to my kids), but I am currently listening to Steve Martin's memoir, Born Standing Up . It's a really in depth look into his life and how he got started on his amazing career. I really didn't know anything about him before starting it, but have always been a big fan (he's probably the #1 famous celebrity I would want to sit down & have lunch with), so I'm enjoying learning about him.

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Scott Tingley (creator, editor, writer comics in the classroom.net and elementary school teacher)

Since I have the benefit of seeing everyone else's list before doing my own I am going to avoid any duplication. I have read a lot of what was already mentioned, and I agree with almost all of them, but here are some that have not been included.

Elementary aged readers

It came out a while back, but one of my favorites since getting into the all-ages-web-site game is Grampa and Julie: Shark Hunters . It is a weird and silly book that makes nonsense storytelling leaps that kids will love. The Grampa and Julie strips have appeared in Nickelodeon.

Squirrelly Gray , the first story book by indie comic great, James Kochalka just came out a few months ago. It is a fable starring a squirrel, a hungry fox, the Tooth Fairy, and a magic acorn. Good stuff.

Two science graphic novels: Mr. Big – an ecosystem-food chain-habitat-murder mystery-alien entity invasion comic and Clan Apis – everything you ever want to know about bees presented in a very non threatening way. Great stuff.

Middle school aged readers

Blue Beetle from DC comics is my big superhero surprise of the year. The last half dozen or so issues have been spectacular. Very funny with a lot of action and teenage staring roles being written like they are actually teenagers.

Young Adult readers

Scarlet Traces is a Victorian age War of the Worlds-ten years later graphic novel from Dark Horse. This was one of my favorites from last year , but I didn't do one of these lists last year, so I'm adding it now.

I just got finished reading a copy of Midnight Sun by Ben Towle . It is a black, white and blue 130 or so paged reimagining of the crash of the Italian airship, the Italia in 1928. It is not meant to be an accurate retelling, but it would be of interest to airship enthusiasts (I'm sure they exist), history buffs and anyone interested in a terrific, grown-up graphic novels. There is a little swearing and drunkenness, but it is the intensity of the situation that makes this for Young Adults and above. I have only read the pdf version of it but, by all accounts, the final version is quite attractive.

Adult readers

With the exception of my first two selections, all of my picks would be good picks for adults interested in the various themes, but Mom's Cancer by Brian Fies is my pick for adult readers. Younge Adult readers and many Middle School aged kids could handle it, but it is really intense. It was very useful to me this year (to clumsily paraphrase Kris Kristofferson - I think Fies has been reading my mail).

Another great pdf I was sent to review, this one from a year ago, is BEASTS from Fantagraphics . “ Beasts ! is a classic mythological menagerie, comprised only of creatures that were thought at one time to actually exist, depicted by over 90 of the most acclaimed artists and cartoonists coming from the most avant-garde ambits of the art world.” It rocks. I have only seen the electronic copy, but according to the publisher's description, they pulled out all the stops on this one. With a couple of edits, this book would have been a favorite of grade four boys everywhere – as it is though it is an adult book (some risqué illustrations not suitable for younger readers).
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Overall best pick: You will be hard pressed to find a better book than Rocketo vol 1 From Frank Espinosa . Action, suspense and redemption played out like Indiana Jones living in Flash Gordon territory. Volume 2 is out as well and does a real good job of continuing the saga. This is my best find of 2007. If you can handle your middle school aged kids reading the word ‘hell' used as a swear word (a whole bunch of times) then they can read it too – after you are done with it.

Thanks to all of the contributors to this series and thanks to you for reading - have a great 2008.





 

 


 

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