Posts Tagged ‘graphic novel’

Wooding, C. (2012). Pandemonium. New York, NY: Graphix.
Interest Level: YA
Reading Level: 5.1
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Subjects: Impersonation, princes, court and courtiers, fantasy, comic book, royalty, magic, humor

I’ll personally see to it that you get turned inside out and covered in salt and lemon juice before being thrown into a barrel of rusty razors and rolled down a hill”- Lumbago

In Chris Wooding’s graphic novel debut, Pandemonium, he offers a devilishly entertaining, fun fantasy adventure, combined with slapstick humor, and unexpected plot twists. Teenage Seifer Tombchewer, a Skullball captain and heartthrob off most girls is kidnapped from his peasant mountain village, brought to the castle of the Darkling Realm kingdom, to impersonate the missing Prince Talon of the clan Pandemonium. While Seifer struggles to impersonate the missing prince, his actions and the reactions of those around him offer much comic relief to the reader.  Inevitability, he proves to the royal family and royal advisors that his simple village ways and strong caring nature would make him a better candidate for the throne than the current Prince. Seifer mends broken relations with Talon’s younger sisters, Sarcoma and Min-Min and forges a close bond even after they learn his true identity. He also falls for the attractive fast flying and stunt performing Carcassa, who has come to ask her clan’s land back. Carcassa is the daughter of Baron Canasta Malefica, a gambling addict who won her in a card game. Siefer worries if anyone will remember him, his temporary fiancé Lady Asphyxia and her upcoming arrival that may ruin this entire ruse and result in him being fed to the “psycho carnage beasts” while also trying to avert a war with the Illuma, those who devised the kidnapping of Prince Talon and are working with Baron Crucifus who they have promised to give the throne to the Darkling Kingdom.

Basically, this is a modernized fantasy filled version of The Prince & The Pauper but still is absolutely entertaining. As Pandemonium ends with the words “The end…for now”, readers can assume that it’s likely to see a sequel sometime in the near future. Other graphic novels that may interest those that enjoyed Pandemonium with bizarre creatures, mistaken identities, self-sacrifice, all while trying to discovers one’s identity may also enjoy Ben Hatke’s Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, Akira Watanabe’s Fullmetal Alchemist manga series, or even Kazu Kibuishi’s Explorer: The Mystery Boxes.

Excerpt from PANDEMONIUM
by Chris Wooding
illustrated by Cassandra Diaz

Kibuishi, K. (2010). Copper. New York, NY: Graphix.
Interest Level: 3-6
Reading Level: 2.9
Genre: Graphic Novel
Subjects: Boys, Dogs Human-animal relationships, adventure and adventurers, cartoons and comics.

“Those mushrooms are practically screaming for us to jump on them.”

Kazu Kabuishi, the author/illustrator of the highly popular graphic novel series Amulet has brought his fans a printed version of Copper, an adorable comic strip collection which consists of mainly one-page comics shots interspersed with a few longer ones (Mushroom Crossing, Maiden Voyage, Picnic) featuring the adventures of an imaginative, loner, bright, curious, and adventurous boy named Copper and his worrisome, fearful, pessimistic, and talking dog, Fred. Their adventure settings are a combination of both real and make-believe.

Though this was designed as a series of webcomics (Bolt City) and the book is more of an anthology rather than a graphic novel, there still is some on-going character development. Copper and his dog Fred share adventures that encompass the mundane to the fantastic as well as all sorts of odd situations they get themselves into. They can venture anywhere in the world or out of it by way of their dreams and reality, though at times a reader may be unsure if it is or is not a dream. Kabuishi’s Copper comics are often philosophical as will be easily identifiable by older readers as Copper and his dog struggle with loneliness, the sense of mortality, and even potential abandonment as they encounter numerous challenges. As a result, it’s hard not to notice an underlying theme of sadness or questioning one’s existence.

Copper may remind some of a reverse Charlie Brown-Snoopy dynamic or a more mature Calvin and Hobbes. Fred, adds much humor with his deep existential concerns regarding his future death, being replaced by Copper, if other people care about him, or if he will ever have a friend. Though Copper and Fred can be viewed as polar opposites, their bond is strong as observed through their adventures navigating a forest of mushrooms, crash landing a homemade plane, traveling into space, dancing with robots, playing video games, shopping, fishing, and even surfing. Their escapades include events drawn from everyday life to bizarre fantasy, science fiction, and even apocalyptic settings.

Kazu Kabuishi’s illustrations are simple, clean, colorful, flat, and will draw the reader in along with the enjoyable story line  The characters and settings are all well-defined, with the backgrounds frequently subtle. The stories have a simplistic feel but often tackle deeper philosophical thoughts and readers never know what type of comic format to expect on the next page but will be assured that it is another fun adventure. Copper includes a 12-page concluding section explaining the steps involved in making Copper and the production of comic books from the first concept to the final color work that will interest fans and aspiring comic writers and artists. Copper is great for those that enjoy good art and less complex stories, and is a beautiful addition to any graphic collection.

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Hatke, B. (2010). Zita the spacegirl. Book one, Far from home. New York, NY: First Second.
2012 ALA Notable Children’s Book
Interest Level: 3-6
Reading Level: 3.0
Genre: graphic novel
Subjects: Human-alien encounters, Extraterrestrial beings, science fiction, friendship, girls, humor

Hatke, B. (2012). Legends of Zita the spacegirl. New York, NY: First Second.
Interest Level: 3-6
Reading Level: 2.8
Genre: graphic novel
Subjects: girls, heroes, adventure and adventurers, science fiction, robots, extraterrestrial beings, friendship

“Not many people escape the end of a world”

Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl. Book One, Far From Home, a human girl from earth finds an alien device with a big red button on it, pushes it, opens a space portal and her friend Joseph is pulled through and Zita follows immediately after. After arriving on bizarre planet about to be destroyed in which Joseph has been chosen as a sacrifice in attempt to save their fate, Zita sets out to save her friend. Along the way she makes friends with a sweet Uglydoll resembling alien, a defective floating battle robot, a mouse that communicated via ticker tape, and a flute playing man named Piper. Zita saves her friend Joseph when she unintentionally saves the planted from doom, is given the title of savior and hero. Zita is unable to return with her friend back to Earth and her journey continue in Legend of Zita the Spacegirl as she with her new friends searches for a way back to earth and finds her new found fame overwhelming, has her identity stolen by an identical looking adventure seeking robot, is credited for saving yet another planet, is labeled as a criminal, is given a living spaceship, makes a few new adorable friends, and of course still doesn’t return back home to Earth.

Hatke’s illustrations are simplistic, captivating, enjoyable, and futuristic. They delightfully capture all the fast-paced action, and the captions and pictures perfectly complement one another. This is a story of friendship, survival, adaptation, and of course, loads of extraterrestrial humor. The character and storyline is ingeniously creative, aesthetically pleasing, charming, and highly imaginative. The text frequently uses alien specific dialect and inventive word play. Fans of Bones by Jeff Smith, Missile Mouse by Jake Parker, Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi, and any tween science-fiction fan will love Ben Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl graphic novels.