Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Kid-Friendly Comics, 12/23/09



Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  I've included links to previews where available.  Thanks to iFanboy for the list of new releases, and to Comic Book Resources for the previews. 

Only one comic is available on December 30th, but since I was busy with the holidays last week, I'm now posting last week's comics.

WALL-E #1 looks great...it's written by J. Torres, whose Days Like This I recently read and plan on reviewing soon.  I've used a picture book version of "WALL-E" in a sci-fi unit in my classroom, so I'm eager to check out the tone of this book.

Click on the titles of any of the collected editions and you'll be taken to my Amazon store, where you can order the titles at big discounts!

Single Issues:  
Collected Editions: 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Kid-Friendly Comics, 12/16/09


Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  I've included links to previews where available.  Thanks to iFanboy for the list of new releases, and to Comic Book Resources for the previews. 

I'm interested in The Complete Alice in Wonderland that begins this week; it's written by the same team that is writing The Complete Dracula, which I've enjoyed so far.

Also, check out my Amazon store, where almost all of the collected editions are discounted, some up to 30 percent!

Single Issues:  
  • Amazing Spider-Man #615 ($2.99)
  • Batman: The Brave and The Bold #12 ($2.50)
  • Betty & Veronica #245 ($2.50)
  • The Brave and The Bold #30 ($2.99)
  • The Complete Alice in Wonderland #1 ($4.99)
  • Jughead's Double Digest #156 ($3.99)
  • Marvel Super Hero Squad #4 ($2.99)
  • Marvelous Land of Oz #2 ($3.99)
  • Simpsons Comics #161 ($2.99) 
  • Superman/Batman #67 ($2.99)
  • Tales from Riverside Digest #36 ($2.69)
  • Tales of TMNT #65 ($3.25)
  • Tiny Titans #23 ($2.50)
  • Transformers #2 ($3.99)
  • Transformers Bumblebee #1 ($3.99)
  • Transformers Timeless Fall Special: Wings of Honor ($4.95)
  • Uncle Scrooge #386 ($2.99)
  • Walt Disney's Comics & Stories #701 ($2.99)
Collected Editions: 
  • Finding Nemo: Reef Rescue Trade Paperback ($9.99)
  • Showcase Presents: Wonder Woman Vol.3 Trade Paperback ($17.99)
  • Transformers Animated Vol. 12 Trade Paperback ($7.99)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Review: “Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Allan Cope”


Emmanuel Guibert
First Second
2008


When it comes to World War II stories, I've always separated them into two basic categories; stories of the victims of the concentration camps and stories of the soldiers.  The former I find fascinating, the latter...not so much.  Full disclosure here -- I'm an English teacher, and nearly every year of my career I've taught a novel told from the perspective of a Holocaust survivor.  Reading such gut-wrenching stories with my classes sometimes four times a day, there was a time in which I could recite whole passages of Elie Wiesel's Night from memory.   My students, who had themselves had suffered some pretty awful family traumas, found inspiration in the spirit of the prisoners of the concentration camps.  Unfortunately, novels that were classroom-appropriate and detailed the soldiers' stories were often bogged down by military jargon, making them impenetrable to my students (and admittedly, myself).  What I find unique about Alan's War is it's accessibility. Writer Emmanuel Guibert, through conversations with Cope, presents a soldier who understands his audience.  Military strategy is broken down into simple terms without trivializing the missions Cope and his company embark upon.  Couple this accessibility with the fascinating encounters between Cope an an eclectic cast of characters, and I've finally found a WWII soldier's story that I can sink my teeth into.  Oh, and did I mention that Alan's War is a graphic novel?  The best of this medium uses art to explicate what the written word cannot, and Alan's War does just that, with cinematic flair.

Written and drawn from interviews with Cope over a five-year stretch, Alan's War humanizes WWII without stumbling into war story tropes (i.e. the bloodthirsty/incompetent/father-figure leader & his rag-tag group of fresh-faced and naive soldiers).  Instead, Guibert literally paints a picture of the simple lessons a young man learns in the army.  Cope, a naturally gifted student, quickly ascends the ranks of the United States Army, but never loses the awe for the seemingly endless (and often fruitless) missions that take him all over Europe.  Throughout Alan's War Cope meets simple Swiss families and world renown poets, has friends disappear for years only to reappear in the strangest places, and revels in the few quiet moments he is allowed to enjoy as the War comes to an end.  Guibert's chooses which moments to illustrate quite well.  Though cross-sections of tanks and overhead illustrations of battlefields would not be out of place in the typical WWII story, Guibert forgoes this in favor of beautiful watercolors of French countrysides and shadowy back-lit trips in train-cars.  As the war comes to an end and Cope and his company sleep in requisitioned houses throughout Europe, it is the quiet moments that Cope seems to enjoy most, and it is those quiet moments that Guibert paints so well.

As his journey begins, Cope decides that it is his adventure alone, and for that reason there is no need to fear wherever the war might take him.  And it is here that Cope seems to explain just what is most appealing to me about this story -- that Alan's War, as the memories of one modest, thoughtful soldier, is a different story than I've read before.



NOTE: Take a look at Guibert's artistic process below.  Amazing!




Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Kid-Friendly Comics, 12/9/09


Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  I've included links to previews where available.  Thanks to iFanboy for the list of new releases, and to Comic Book Resources for the previews. 

I know that I'll be grabbing the DC Universe Holiday Special -- they're pretty darn good every year, and have some heartwarming (if schmaltzy) stories about heroism that would be great to use in the classroom.   

This week, a reprint of JLA: Year One would be a nice pickup for students who want to get to know the whole DC universe.  Pick it up at my Amazon store, where almost all of the collected editions are discounted, some up to 30 percent!

Single Issues:  
Collected Editions: 
  • Amazing Spider-Man: Red-Headed Stranger Premiere Hardcover ($19.99)
  • JLA: Year One Trade Paperback ($19.99)
  • Marvel Adventures Spider-Man Vol. 11: Thwip Digest Trade Paperback ($9.99)
  • Runaways: Good Die Young Trade Paperback ($16.99)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Kid-Friendly Comics, 12/4/09


Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  I've included links to previews where available.  Thanks to iFanboy for the list of new releases, and to Comic Book Resources for the previews. 

Note: Comics will be released on Thursday this week!

I'm excited for the new volume of Beanworld -- though I've only read one issue, I've heard it's fantastic for middle school students.  Pick it up at my Amazon store!  Almost all of the collected editions are discounted, some up to 30 percent!

Single Issues:  
  • Archie Double Digest #204 ($3.99)
  • Betty #183 ($2.50)
  • Cartoon Network Action Pack #44 ($2.50)
  • Donald Duck & Friends #348 ($2.99) 
  • Free Realms #4 ($3.99)
  • Incredibles #3 ($2.99)
  • Looney Toons #181 ($2.50)
  • Political Power #5: Ted Kennedy ($3.99)
  • Simpsons Winter Wingding #4 ($4.99)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog #207 ($2.50)
  • X-Babies #3 ($3.99)
Collected Editions: 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Kid-Friendly Comics, 11/18/09


Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  I've included links to previews where available, though once again there are only a few previews this week.

With the holidays approaching, the holiday-themed books are starting to roll out.  The Gift of the Magi, which I know is collected in many school textbook anthologies, has a pretty cool graphic novel treatment available this week.  Pick it up at my Amazon store!  Almost all of the collected editions are discounted, some up to 30 percent!


Single Issues:  
Collected Editions: 
  • Casper the Friendly Ghost 60th Anniversary  Hardcover ($9.95)
  • The Gift of the Magi Graphic Novel Hardcover ($14.99)
  • Runaways: Homeschooling Premiere Hardcover ($24.99)
  • Walt Disney's Christmas Classics Vol. 1 Hardcover ($24.99)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Review -- "Kampung Boy" by Lat


Publishing Information:
2006. First Second, New York.  144 pages.

Recommended Reading Age: 9-14

Story:
Mat, a Malaysian boy growing up in an idyllic kampung (or village), begins the story of his youth with a description of his birth to two loving parents in the Kinta Valley.  Curious and adventurous from the get-go, much of Mat's childhood is spent playing in the river with his schoolmates, the Meor boys, and exploring the area around the village's tin dredge.  Growing up Muslim, Mat details various religious ceremonies and practices in a lighthearted tone with great comic effect, often describing the awkwardness of youth in situations in which composure is essential.  From his first days of school, his exploring with the Meor boys, to his eventual quest to one day take over his father's rubber plantation, author Lat proves that adolescence is quite universal.  

Characterization:
Boys and girls alike will laugh at the childhood exuberance of Mat, but will also marvel at his maturity.  In a culture where respect for one's elders is essential, Mat's mishaps are all innocent in nature, despite some undesired results that cause his parents and village elders to question his intents.  Through a scene towards the end of the book in which Mat's father impresses upon him the seriousness of the responsibilities he'll soon have as the inheritor of the rubber plantation, many young adult readers will see a connection to their own lives, in that their responsibilities have begun to teeter on the edge of adulthood. 

Artwork:
Initially, it seems as if the cartooning in Kampung Boy is rather loose and simplistic.  But looked at more closely, Lat's caricatures of the villagers are done so well as to convey a true sense of their personalities.  Sure, the girth of his father and the vision troubles of the town circumciser are laughable, but purposefully so.  This is the world as young Mat sees it, exaggerated to the extreme. 

Considering this work is translated from Malay, the depictions of the characters as well as the Malaysian riverside community tell part of the tale, and do so quite effectively.  Particularly impressive is Lat's ability this way to balance his storytelling between words and art.   The two play off one another masterfully, and young readers will be able to use visual clues to decipher regional dialect or unfamiliar vocabulary. 

Recommendation:
The only objectionable content in Kampung Boy is the scene is which Mat and some of the village boys go through a circumcision ritual.  Thought it is not at all graphic (and actually quite humorous), teachers might be uncomfortable explaining this process to those unfamiliar with this fairly common religious tradition.  Teachable moments in this book abound, both thematically and culturally.  American students unfamiliar with the experiences of young people in less-developed countries will find this story a treat, as well as a contrast to some of the more serious images they may recognize from popular media. Funny and eye-opening, Kampung Boy definitely has its place in the middle school classroom.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kid-Friendly Comics, 11/11/09


Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  I've included links to previews where available, though once again there are only a few previews this week.

It's a very light week for collected editions, but one of them would be fantastic for high schoolers studying the Cold War.  It's a reissue of Superman: Red Son, which imagines a world in which Kal-El of Krypton landed in communist Russia rather than in rural Kansas.   You can pick it up (along with other collections) at my Amazon store.  The prices are often discounted more than 30 percent!

Single Issues:  
Collected Editions: 
  • Amazing Spider-Man: Died in Your Arms Tonight Premiere Hardcover ($24.99)
  • Superman: Red Son Deluxe Hardcover ($24.99)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Read 1st Issue of Dynamite's "Sherlock Holmes" for Free!

The fantastic Comic Book Resources has just posted the entire first issue of Dynamite Entertainment's Sherlock Holmes to their website.  Check it out here.  Written by Leah Moore (daughter of Watchmen creator Alan Moore) and Hohn Reppion and drawn by Aaron Campbell, fans of the classic Conan Doyle tales will find this opening salvo a treat.

The first hardcover of this series, collecting all five issues of the first arc (entitled "The Trial of Sherlock Holmes") will be released soon.  Pre-order it here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Kid-Friendly Comics Collections, 11/4/09


Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  I've included links to previews where available, though once again there are only a few previews this week.

It's a very light week for collected editions, but one of them would be fantastic for high schoolers who love the classics or just enjoy a good mystery: Dynamite's Sherlock Holmes.   You can pick it up (along with other collections) at my Amazon store.  The prices are often discounted more than 30 percent!

Single Issues:  
Collected Editions: 

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    New Kid-Friendly Comics Collections, 10/28/09


    Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  I've included links to previews where available, though once again there are only a few previews this week.

    Personally, I'm looking forward to the collection of Wolverine covers drawn in the style of famous artists and their works.  The Dali version is really cool!  This book would make a great addition to a classroom library and might spark a discussion about copyright or allusion.


    Also, please check out my Amazon store to pick up this week's collected editions for your classroom. The prices are often discounted more than 30 percent!

    Single Issues:  
    • Archie Double Digest #203 ($3.99)
    • Bart Simspson Comics #50 ($2.99)
    • Batman: The Brave and The Bold #10 ($2.50)
    • Betty & Veronica #244 ($2.50)
    • Billy Batson & The Magic of Shazam #9 ($2.50)
    • Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #56 ($2.99)
    • Muppet Peter Pan #2 ($2.99)
    • Simpsons Comics #22 ($3.99) 
    • Superman: Secret Origin #2 ($3.99)
    • Wolverine Art Appreciation One-Shot ($3.99)
    • Wolverine First Class #20 ($2.99)
    Collected Editions:
    • Amazing Spider-Man: American Son Premium Hardcover ($19.99)
    • Artemis Fowl Graphic Novel Vol. 2: The Arctic Incident ($9.99)
    • Barack Obama Comic Book Biography Hardcover ($14.99)
    • Hulk Vol. 3: Hulk No More Premium Hardcover ($19.99)
    • Invincible Iron Man Vol. 2: World's Most Wanted Trade Paperback ($14.99)
    • The Obama Story ($14.95)
    • Spider-Man: The Newspaper Strips Hardcover ($39.99)
    • Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic Vol. 7 - Dueling Ambitions Trade Paperback ($18.95)
    • Transformers: All Hail Megatron Vol. 3 Trade Paperback ($19.99)

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Review -- "The War at Ellsmere" by Faith Erin Hicks


    Publishing Information:
    2008. SLG Publishing, San Jose.  156 pages.

    Recommended Reading Age: 12-16

    Story:
    Juniper (Jun), our teenage protagonist, wants nothing more than to realize her full academic potential at Ellsmere Academy, a prestigious boarding school for girls.  A self-acknowledged 'dork' from a less-than-affluent family, Jun and her roommate Cassie clash with the cruel Emily and her entitled cronies, who want nothing more than to make life at Ellsmere difficult for the school's new scholarship charity case.  Drama at Ellsmere is not relegated to matters of popularity, however; the legend of the Ellsmere brothers and a mysterious white horse provide a fantastical backdrop to this otherwise realistic tale.

    Characterization:
    Female students (especially those that feel like outcasts themselves) should identify immediately with Jun.  Though she is smart, cute, and witty, she is also vulnerable, concealing a painful loss in her life for much of the story.  She may be better read than the most junior high school girls (there are witty allusions to Dickens, Shakespeare, and Tolkien), but her plight is universal enough; trying to fit in while maintaining a sense of independence.  Jun's roommate Cassie provides comic relief, struggling in self-confidence and academic prowess until Jun inspires her to be more than she has been.  Emily, Jun's nemesis, is the standard 'queen bee', loathsome in her snobbishness and dedication to undermining Jun's efforts to fit in.

    Artwork:
    A fan of manga and anime herself, Hicks's style is definitely reminiscent of Chiggers' Hope Larson (who wrote the introduction to Ellsemere) and Scott Pilgrim's Bryan Lee O'Malley.  Despite the large eyes (typical of manga) and exaggerated expressions, for the most part the characters are drawn realistically -- these actually look like teenage girls, both in their dress and their body types.  They actually seem to wear the clothes they're in -- wrinkles are drawn where they belong.  Panel layouts are very easy for even a novice comics reader to follow, and Hicks is able to use splash pages to illustrate particularly important moments in the lives of these girls.

    Recommendation:
    Though The War at Ellsmere isn't particularly 'teachable' (apart from the aforementioned allusions to other literature), it would make a great addition to any middle school or high school library.  The combination of witty banter between characters, the touch of fantasy, as well one of the most relatable, strong female protagonists portrayed in the comics medium make this a great read.

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    New Kid-Friendly Comics, 10/21/09


    Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  I've included links to previews where available, though this week it's slim pickings.

    I know that my students are thrilled that the latest volume of Diary of a Wimpy Kid is out.  My local library already has copies!


    Also, please check out my Amazon store to pick up this week's collected editions for your classroom. The prices are often discounted more than 30 percent!

    Single Issues:   
    • Amazing Spider-Man #609 ($2.99)
    • Archie #602 ($2.50)
    • Betty & Veronica Double Digest #175 ($3.99)
    • The Brave and The Bold #28 ($2.99)
    • DC Universe Halloween Special 2009 ($5.99)
    • Female Force #7: Oprah Winfrey ($3.99)
    • Poe #4 ($3.99) 
    • Political Power #3: Joe Biden ($3.99) 
    • Scooby Doo #149 ($2.50)
    • Simpsons Comics #159 ($2.99) 
    • Superman/Batman #65 ($2.99)
    • Tales From Riverdale Digest #35 ($2.69)
    • Tiny Titans #21 ($2.50)
    Collected Editions:
    • Amazing Spider-Man: Death and Dating Trade Paperback ($19.99) 
    • Diary of a Wimpy Kid Vol. 4: Dog Days Hardcover ($13.95)
    • Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers Hardcover ($24.99)
    • Marvel Adventures Avengers Vol. 10 Digest ($9.99)
    • Runaways: Rock Zombies Trade Paperback ($14.99)
    • Runaways Vol. 9: Dead Wrong Digest ($9.99)

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    New Kid-Friendly Comics, 10/14/09


    Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  I've included links to previews where available.

    Also, please check out my Amazon store to pick up this week's collected editions for your classroom. The prices are often discounted more than 30 percent!

    The newest adaptation of Frank Beddor's fantastic The Looking Glass Wars series is available today.  Though Ben Templesmith (Fell, 30 Days of Night) isn't the artist this time around, it's still worth checking out. 

    Single Issues:   
    Collected Editions:

    • Amelia Rules: A Very Ninja Christmas Trade Paperback ($7.99)
    • Batman Chronicles Vol. 8 Trade Paperback ($14.99)
    • Female Force Trade Paperback ($15.99)
    • Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars Vol. 2 -- Mad with Wonder Hardcover ($24.99) 
    • Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars Vol. 2 -- Mad with Wonder Trade Paperback ($14.95) 
    • Pride & Prejudice Premium Hardcover ($19.99) 
    • Runaways: Teenage Wasteland Trade Paperback ($14.99)

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    New Kid-Friendly Comics Collections, 10/7/09

    Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  I've included links to previews where available.


    Also, please check out my Amazon store to pick up this week's collected editions for your classroom. The prices are often discounted more than 30 percent!

    Single Issues:   
    Collected Editions:

    • Cartoon History Of the World Vol. 2: Bastille to Baghdad Trade Paperback ($18.99)
    • Masterpiece Comics Hardcover ($19.99)
    • Muppet Robin Hood Trade Paperback ($9.99)
    • Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe A-Z Premium Hardcover ($24.99)
    • Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles ($14.95)

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    New Kid-Friendly Comics, 9/30/09


    Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.  Sorry about the dearth of previews this week.  I'm hoping that Comic Book Resources will post some more tomorrow.

    Also, please check out my Amazon store to pick up this week's collected editions for your classroom. The prices are often discounted more than 30 percent!

    I cannot recommend X-Men: Magneto Testament enough.  I hope to blog a review about it soon.  It's the story of the X-Men nemesis Magneto's time in a Nazi concentration camp during his childhood.  It's a great character study -- one that takes a serious look at what might drive a victim to become a villain.  If you teach Holocaust literature, it's a must-have.  On to the new releases:

    Single Issues:   
    • Amazing Spider-Man #607 $2.99)
    • Batman: The Brave and The Bold #9 ($2.50)
    • Betty #182 ($2.50)
    • Futurama Comics #45 ($2.99)
    • Jughead #197 ($2.50)
    • Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #55 ($2.99)
    • Mickey Mouse & Friends #296 ($2.99)
    • Runaways #14 ($2.99)
    • Usagi Yojimbo #123 ($3.50)
    • Spider-Man Magazine #8 ($6.99)
    • Superfriends #19 ($2.50)
    Collected Editions:
    • Classics Illustrated Vol. 6: The Scarlet Letter Hardcover ($9.95)
    • Indiana Jones Further Adventures Omnibus Vol. 2 Trade Paperback ($24.95)
    • Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe A-Z Premium Hardcover ($24.99)
    • Superman/Batman Vol. 1: Public Enemies Trade Paperback ($14.99)
    • Superman: Kryptonite Trade Paperback ($14.99)
    • Tiny Tyrant Vol. 2: Lucky Winner Trade Paperback ($9.99)
    • X-Men: Magneto Testament Trade Paperback ($19.99)

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    New Kid-Friendly Comics, 9/23/09


    Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week. Only three previews this week -- definitely a light week.

    Also, please check out my Amazon store to pick up this week's collected editions for your classroom. The prices are often discounted more than 30 percent!


    Single Issues:

    Collected Editions:

    • Archie & Friends All Stars: Veronica's Passport Trade Paperback ($9.95)
    • The Chronicles of Arthur Vol. 1: Sword of Fire & Ice ($14.99)
    • Flash Chronicles Vol. 1 ($14.99)
    • Hardy Boys Graphic Novel Vol. 18: Danger ($7.95)
    • Marvel Adventures Thor and the Avengers Digest ($9.99)
    • Pet Avengers Classic Trade Paperback ($14.99)
    • Salt Water Taffy, Vol. 3: The Truth About Doctor True ($5.95)
    • Timothy and the Transgalactic Towel ($16.99)
    • Veronica's Passport, Vol. 1 ($9.99)

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    New Kid-Friendly Comics, 9/16/09


    Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week. Only three previews this week -- definitely a light week.

    Also, please check out My Amazon Store to pick up this week's collected editions for your classroom. The prices are often discounted more than 30 percent!

    And finally, for those readers in the Chicago area, a reminder that The Windy City Comic Con is going on this weekend. It's put on by the fine gentlemen from the Around Comics podcast, and I'll be volunteering there. It's a great way to meet creators and to pick up cheap comics for your classroom.


    Single Issues:

    Collected Editions:

    • Female Force, Vol. 1 Trade Paperback ($-.--)
    • Indiana Jones Adventures Vol. 2 Trade Paperback ($7.95)
    • Invincible: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 5 Hardcover ($34.99)
    • Johnny Boo Vol. 3: Happy Apples Hardcover ($9.95)
    • Salt Water Taffy, Vol. 3: The Truth About Doctor True ($5.95)
    • Veronica's Passport, Vol. 1 ($9.99)

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    New Kid-Friendly Comics, 9/10/09


    Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week. There are a ton of previews this week. Thanks to Comic Book Resources for the links!

    Note: Because of the Labor Day holiday in the U.S., comics will not be available domestically until Thursday.

    Also, please check out my Amazon store to pick up this week's collected editions for your classroom. The prices are often discounted more than 30 percent!

    Single Issues:

    Collected Editions:

    • Amulet, Volume 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse Hardcover ($21.99)
    • Around the World in 80 Days Hardcover ($14.99)
    • Astro Boy Movie Adaptation Trade Paperback ($17.99)
    • Astro Boy Movie Prequel: Underground Trade Paperback ($17.99)
    • Cars: The Rookie Trade Paperback ($9.99)
    • Edgar Allen Poe: The Raven And Other Stories ($16.99)
    • Fantastic Four: Lost Adventures Trade Paperback ($24.99)
    • Incredibles: Family Matters Trade Paperback ($9.99)
    • Invincible: The Ultimate Collection Volume 5 ($34.99)
    • Marvel Super Hero Team-Up Trade Paperback ($24.99)
    • Muppet Robin Hood Trade Paperback ($9.99)
    • Runaways:Good Die Young Premium Hardcover ($19.99)
    • Transformers Animated Volume 11 Trade Paperback ($7.99)
    • Ultimatum: Spider-Man Premium Hardcover ($24.99)

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    New Kid-Friendly Comics, 9/2/09


    Since new comics are released every Wednesday here in the States, I thought I'd organize a list of the kid-friendly comics available this week.

    Update: Only one preview this week! Thanks, IDW!

    Also, please check out my Amazon store to pick up this week's collected editions for your classroom. The prices are often discounted more than 30 percent!

    Single Issues:

    • Astro Boy Movie Adaptation #3 ($3.99)
    • Betty & Veronica Digest #197 ($2.69)
    • Cars: Radiator Springs #1 ($2.99)
    • Loony Toons #178 ($2.50)
    • Official Index to the Marvel Universe #9 ($3.99)
    • Veronica #196 ($2.50)
    • Wednesday Comics #9 ($3.99)

    Collected Editions:

    • Amazing Spider-Man: 24-7 Premier Hardcover ($24.99)
    • Amulet, Volume 2: The Stonekeeper's Curse Softcover ($10.99)
    • Cars: The Rookie Trade Paperback ($9.99)
    • Classics Illustrated Deluxe #4: The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer ($13.95)
    • Classics Illustrated #6: The Scarlet Letter Hardcover ($9.95)
    • Essential Sub-Mariner Vol. 1 Trade Paperback ($19.99)
    • Incredibles: Family Matters Trade Paperback ($9.99)
    • Marvel Super Hero Squad: Hero Up Digest ($9.99)
    • The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 ($28.99)
    • The Complete Peanuts 1971-1974 Box Set ($49.95)
    • Transformers Animated Vol. 11 ($9.99)
    • Usagi Yojimbo Special Edition Hardcover ($95.00)
    • Wolverine and Power Pack: Wild Pack Digest ($9.99)
    • Wonderful Wizard of Oz Hardcover ($29.99)

    Sunday, August 30, 2009

    Review: Jeff Smith Documentary -- "The Cartoonist"


    "The Cartoonist" is a feature-length (76 minutes) documentary on the career of Jeff Smith, creator of the series of Bone comic books (which, as I've written before, I use in my seventh grade Language Arts classes). "The Cartoonist" is essential viewing to any teacher of Bone, or any fans of Jeff Smith's work. Light-hearted, informative, and entertaining, this documentary provides insight into Smith's creative process through interviews with friends, family members, and comic creator contemporaries. In this review, I'll focus on the documentary's usefulness as a supplement to the study of Bone and comics creation.

    Smith's Influences

    Smith talks extensively about the influence of Walt Kelly's Pogo, Charles Schulz's Peanuts, and Carl Barks' Scrooge McDuck. As many students may be unfamiliar with the work of these master cartoonists, "The Cartoonist" therefore offers some additional reading for students who love Bone-like cartooning. (Note: Smith also mentions Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Art Spiegelman's Maus, and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' The Watchmen as influences, books which may not be appropriate for junior high school students due to their mature subject matter.) Students will learn by viewing this documentary that as a youngster, Smith loved Barks' Scrooge McDuck so much that Bone was, in essence, an attempt to create an 1,100 page version of a McDuck story. Of course, Bone became much more than this, as Smith admits.


    A Secret Fantasy

    Though a lover of epic storytelling like Melville's Moby Dick (referenced quite often in Bone) and fantasy literature like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Smith understood that 1,000 page tales of elves and fairies often turn off a certain segment of readers. Therefore, by creating a cartoon-version of The Three Stooges in the Bone cousins, Smith explains how he was able to "sneak in" an Odyssey-like epic story while keeping his dialog light-hearted. Smith reveals that like many works of literature, water plays a key role in Bone, as it often signifies an important moment in his characters' lives. Hopefully, students can take this kind of insight into the creative process and apply it to their classroom reading, both retrospectively as well as in future reading.

    A Real Risk-Taker

    Much of "The Cartoonist" is devoted not specifically to Bone, but to Smith's career path. Drawing versions of the Bone cousins as early as age five, Smith always knew that he wanted to be an artist. Smith's career path from animator to full-time comic creator and publishing company owner is traced (no pun intended) through interviews with childhood friends and business partners (including his wife Vijaya). Though not particularly useful to students, these segments do portray Smith as a dedicated professional, with a single-minded vision of getting his art into the hands as many people as possible. Through footage of various comic conventions, it is evident just how many people Smith has reached.

    The Rise of Comics

    Of particular interest to comics enthusiasts are the final chapters of the documentary, in which comics contemporaries like Paul Pope (Batman: Year 100, Heavy Liquid), Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise, Echo), and Harvey Pekar (American Splendor) explain the rise in popularity of independent comics during the mid-90s. This popularity gave legitimacy to non-superhero comics, which, in turn,(in this teacher's opinion) gave legitmacy to the use of comics in the classroom. (Pekar perhaps sums it up the best by saying, "Science Fiction doesn't dominate book sales; why should Science Fiction dominate comic book sales?") Through interviews with the above creators as well as Ohio State University Cartoon Library & Museum curator and professor Lucy Caswell, teachers will find particular joy in the discussion of the potential of comics. Japanese comics (manga) are highlighted as an example of what can be done with the comics medium, as they are highly profitable and and are offered in wide variety of genres. Caswell also speaks about the complexity of reading comics (deciphering both words and images) and the importance of developing students' visual literacy. If nothing else, this provides comics educators with more ammunition to bring to discussions of comics' place in curriculum.

    The Impact of Jeff Smith and Bone

    Artist Scott McLeod (author of the indispensable Understanding Comics) perhaps sums up the impact of Bone most succinctly; he describes Bone as a classic, in that once you have read it, you can never remember it not existing. Footage of children as young as five lining up to have Smith autograph their copies of Bone proves that it is indeed a rare feat of comics; a series that though never originally intended for children has reached across all age groups and many cultures.

    Recommendation

    "The Cartoonist" simultaneously illustrates the power of comics and the genius of Jeff Smith. This is essential viewing for comics fans, as it provides a well-rounded picture of what it takes to create an enduring classic. For teachers of Bone, it may spark supplemental lesson plan ideas such as research into Smith's influences, as well as provide insight to the symbols present this masterful work. Highly recommended.

    If you are interested in reading Bone or any of Jeff Smith's work, please visit My Amazon Store. Thanks!