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One Mother's Tips for Kid-Friendly Comics

From June, 2005 – (at the end of each review I have updated some of the info – Scott, Comics in the Classroom )

In the immortal words of Alice Cooper, (sing along, now) “School's out for summer….” The lunchboxes and backpacks are put away and once again young girls' thoughts turn to comics. To review for those of you who just joined us, my name is Tracy and my girls are Sarah, age 6, and Shelby, age 9. We love comics and want as many kids as possible to love them, too. This column reviews “all-ages” comics and graphic novels in the hopes that readers will pass “comic fever” on to the younger crowd. Remember, comics make great gifts!

LIONS, TIGERS, AND BEARS: MIKE BULLOCK, JACK LAWRENCE; ALIAS ENTERPRISES/IMAGE COMICS

In this all-ages gem, a young boy and his stuffed animals fight nasty creatures and save a friend by using the power of imagination. The story is charming and evokes a life lesson without being too obvious about it. I really enjoyed the art -- it has a Saturday-morning Japanese cartoon feel that really appeals to kids. Sarah (though she won't admit it) was a little scared of the beasties at first – they have big, nasty, point teeth and drool a lot. If your little one can handle some mean monsters, I highly recommend this four issue arc. Great for all ages .

Shelby says: LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS is great for kids because it's about four stuffed animals and a little boy (who is their owner) in a stuffed animal land. The stuffed animals are a lion, two tigers (a white one and an orange one), and a black panther. The stuffed cats come alive and they fight beasties (which are not stuffed animals) who try to get kids. There is a Bear King and he tells the little boy, who is named Joey, that his imagination is magical. He can control it all he wants!! I read them all and they are all great. That's why kids will love (or like) Lions, Tigers and Bears!!!!!!!! I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sarah says: I liked LIONS, TIGERS, AND BEARS because it has lots of excitement, like fights and monsters and portrait holes you can go through to another world. I think that 5-year-old boys and 7-year-old girls would like it. And 60-year-olds would like it because there's old people in it. The bad guys are pretty funny – they're not too scary, but maybe for 3-year-olds. My favorite thing is that everybody's smart, expecially Joey, at the end, ‘cause he uses his imagination to fight the bad guys.

(This is now collected and the second series should be collected soon)

LULLABY: WISDOM SEEKER: HECTOR SEVILLA, MIKE S. MILLER, ALIAS ENTERPRISES/IMAGE COMICS

Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Jim Hawkins, the Pied Piper, Little Red Riding Hood, and Oz, all in one big mystery. I like the semi-dark tone of these books and the way the story seems to be going, but I'd say it's more aimed at the teen (and older) audience. The storyline jumps around a bit in time and place and the girls needed me to explain what was going on. The manga-influenced art is great for grown ups and the colors are beautiful but, as you'll see from the girls' reviews, it may be too fanboy for a younger audience This recommendation is based on two issues only: Recommended for pre-teen to adult readers .

Shelby says: LULLABY is kind of ridiculous because the drawings look silly and the story is too confusing and not too cool. The drawings are ridiculous because the girl in the story who is a warrior has huge boobs, and in the second comic she smooshes her boobs with her knees. I didn't really understand what was going on because I didn't know what was happening when. Some of it is in the past, some of it is in the present but I couldn't tell which was which. There's a part about a pirate, a part about the girl and her warrior stuff, and a part about a woodsman and a little fox-red-riding-hood girl. There's a Pinocchio guy too – he's creepy looking. Some of it is scary because of the drawings. There's a pirate captain with a huge scar down his face.

Sarah says: The characters in LULLABY come from a lot of stories and fairytales. My favorite part was when the fox-girl tried to catch a frog, but it split into pieces! My favorite picture was when Alice squished her boobies with her knees. Please, tell the artist to make the boobs smaller in the next book.

(This is still available on Amazon and other online comic ordering sites.)

THE IMAGINARIES: MIKE S. MILLER, BEN AVERY, GREG TITUS; ALIAS ENTERPRISES/IMAGE COMICS

The premise here is intriguing: Imaginary friends, cast off by their creators as they get older, end up in the Imagined Nation. The first issue is entertaining, and the Barbie gag is particularly funny. The second issue, however, takes a very dark turn. Gestapo teddy bears (complete with uniforms, boots, and armbands) growling “Where are your papers, citizen?” and handing out gang-beatings with their clubs and stuffing flying out of a teddy bear's head as Superhero G puts his hand clean through – not really kid-friendly stuff. Shelby actually refused to review it because she said it was “evil” (this from a kid who watches Harry Potter 3 at least once a week). I really liked both issues – the writing is solid and the art is strong. In fact, it's one of the more interesting comics I've read in a while – just not for kids. This recommendation is based on two issues only: Recommended for pre-teen to adult readers.

Sarah says: I liked the first book ‘cause it was funny. In the beginning, there's a boy who was going to his grandma's house because his mom and dad were staying away from each other for a while ‘cause they had problems. The boy went into his dad's old room and he found this little picture book and it had drawings of Superhero G and Hero Boy. He decided to draw for himself. His dad told him Superhero G was always belonging to the little boy. When the boy gets older, he thinks that Superhero G is kid stuff so he throws the drawings away. Superhero G lands in the trash can and goes into this desert island with Harvey and a Barbie girl. It's a really weird world that they get into. I liked it when Superhero G said, “Excuse me, madam? What exactly are in these bags?” and she answered, “Accessories! I've been accessorizing since I can remember. Can't you, dear?” I didn't like the second book ‘cause I couldn't understand it, and it was very dark and hard to see everything. The story was really weird and complicating and not funny.

(Imaginaries Volume 1: Lost & Found (Paperback) Alias Enterprises – is still listed on Amazon.com)

GRAMPA AND JULIE: SHARK HUNTERS: JEF CZEKAJ; CZEKAJ PRESS/TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS

And now for something completely different…. I left this book sitting on the coffee table and it triggered a fight. We finally had to agree to assign each person a part and read it out loud, radio-play style. Originally appearing as a strip in NICKELODEON MAGAZINE, GRAMPA AND JULIE is cute, funny, and perfect for reading aloud with kids. This re-worked compilation, GRAMPA AND JULIE: SHARK HUNTERS (available from TOP SHELF), is Julie's report about her summer vacation, wherein she and her grandparents hunt for Stephen, the world's largest shark, along the way visiting the bottom of the ocean, Planet Purple and Planet Fiesta, the North Pole, and the inside of a whale. It's the kind of goofy, silly, fun that will make both you and the little ones laugh out loud. Great fun for all ages .

Sarah says: SHARK HUNTERS is a really good and exciting book. I read it five times! Julie is like the smart alek and Grandpa is all really funny. I really think that three-year-olds to sixty-five year olds would enjoy it because they have jokes for everybody. I liked it when a penguin was at the North Pole (but they really live at the South Pole) and he was doing a lemonade stand. Nobody wants his lemonade because it's too cold out. So Grandpa sells hot tamales, and everyone wants the penguin's lemonade to get their mouths cooled off.

Shelby says: SHARK HUNTERS is really good for kids because it has funny things that kids like. The whole story (well…all most the whole story) is about Julie's summer. The reason it's called Shark Hunters is because there is Julie and her grandparents who are trying to find the biggest shark in the world whose name is Stephen. They go on different planets to find Stephen. It also has stupid stuff like ocean monkeys who can't open a peanut butter jar. That kind of stuff. Like I said it's really weird and really funny.

(This is still available – ask you local shop or bookstore or order directly from topshelfproductions.com)

See Tracy's new column at Newsarama.com every Sunday. Contact her at allagescomics@hotmail.com.


Any questions or comments, contact me at comicsintheclassroom @ gmail.com


 

 

 

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