Thursday, 23 August 2018

Five cool comics / graphic novels that make a perfect 'jumping in' point for kids. A ReadItDaddy Comic Special

Mention comics to most parents looking for a way to get their kids into reading for pleasure, and you're likely to get some real mixed reactions back...
Quite often it's that look of "Yes but I'd rather they read PROPER books" - Some folk who still believe comics = Beano + Dandy, or mistakenly believe that those terrible strips you see in officially licenses plastic tat mags are where the comics industry begins or ends. Others might have seen Marvel or DC's offerings and be a bit turned off by them (but as you'll see later in our roundup, Marvel and DC are doing some truly incredible comics and graphic novels with huge kid appeal.

We've talked a lot on the blog about our absolute favourite comic for youngsters, the mighty Phoenix Comic but let's take it as read that The Phoenix is the best possible place to start, but have a look at a few more comics that have wowed us too.

So we're going to wrap together five of our current favourites from our summer reading pile, all of which are good for a range of ages up to 12 (and beyond, yep even grumpy old 50 year old 'kids' too).

Starting out with "Steven Universe", which is a hit animated show that combines a superb cast of characters with a whole metric ton of feelgood vibes as Steven joins the Crystal Gems in their adventures, hoping to unlock the secrets of his own crystal in the process.
Like the cartoon, the collected comic version dishes up a selection of awesome tales by a series of authors and artists Coleman Engle, Jeremy Sorese and Rebecca Sugar, each putting together their own spin on life in Beach City.

If you've never encountered the animated show, this is definitely an essential starter guide to get you up to speed and the colourful artwork is absolutely glorious.

"Steven Universe: Volume 1" is published by Titan Comics and is out now.

Catching up with another cool collective of characters now. We have absolutely adored "Lumberjanes" since we first reviewed Volume 1 a couple of years ago. These came up in a snap sale recently so we hoovered up Volumes 2 to 4 of "Lumberjanes" catching up with the girls summering at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Rumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types (try saying THAT with a mouthful of freshly melted smores!)

This time the ladies are roped into another crazy outing encountering strange creatures, earning awesome badges ("The Pungeonmaster" badge - for expert punning!) and generally enjoying friendship to the max! If you've not met April, Ripley, Jen, Jo, Mal and Molly it's about blimmin' time you did.

A fantastic series from Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters and various awesome artists, it's unmissable stuff and perfect for fans of shows like Gravity Falls or Noelle's other unmissable comic Nimona.

"Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max" by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Shannon Watters is out now, published by Boom! Comics. 

Now a true classic in every sense of the word...

Tove Jansson's awesome "Moomins" in their comic-strip form are absolutely brilliant - and actually quite subversive - little tales that are perfect for kids who have never met these adorable characters before.

Tove was a bit of a stylish maverick when it came to producing children's stories, but her comic strip versions ran in various syndicated newspapers throughout Europe and Drawn and Quarterly have been reprinting these as awesome small format versions full of the original charm and chaos that puts Tove's work a zillion miles above the rest.

In this awesome story Moomin enlists a ton of help to try and get rid of some unwanted relatives, who have turned his house into a hotel while his parents are away. Not even Snuffkin and the Snork Maiden seem to be able to help - so Moomin resorts to ever more desperate measures in order to get rid of his unwanted guests, even enlisting Stinky to help (but Stinky seems to really want to literally eat Moomin out of house and home - by eating his actual house and home!)

It's ludicrously silly but achingly beautiful and stylish, in some places pocked with Tove's no-nonsense approach to storytelling and exploring some pretty grown up themes, but ultimately kid friendly and absolutely essential stuff.

"Moomin and the Brigands" by Tove Jansson is out now, published by Drawn and Quarterly. 

Hitting up the biggies now, it's not often we pay much attention to the uber-fragmented cross-over-laden world of Marvel comics, but certain series are just completely unmissable.

I've always been in two minds about letting C loose on "Gwenpool" but with its bubblegum-coloured anti-hero and rather tongue-in-cheek approach to some of Marvel's best loved characters, I'm willing to let some of its more questionable ethics pass as it's still durned brilliant stuff and (if your kids can stand to see a bit of cartoony violence) pretty kid friendly for ages 10 and up.

"The Unbelievable Gwenpool Volume 2: Head of M.O.D.O.K" once again pokes fun at one of the most nefarious baddies in the Marvel Comics Universe. Yep, that completely daft flying head-thing MODOK. After enlisting Gwenpool as his latest assassin in the first volume, Gwen now realises that working for a nefarious super-villain isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's time to revolt - but it's also time to delve into how Gwen ended up in a mirror universe where she has become a questionable superhero in her own right (as well as an ace shot, and a bit handy with a variety of close-quarters weapons too). There are some great delves later on into the series as Gwen crosses over with Miles (Spider-Man) Morales and other key Marvel characters. If you're a fan of Deadpool but can't quite stomach the over-the-top violence and constant jokes about bodily functions, this is a far more tame - and actually a way more cooler comic.

"The Unbelievable Gwenpool: Head of Modok (Gwenpool volume 2)" by Hastings, Gurihiru, Strychalski and Rosenberg is out now, published by Marvel Comics. 

Well we can't mention Marvel Comics without also mentioning DC so here's another brilliant spin-off series that delves into the deep dark world of the Batman, in an entirely non-batsy-related way (well, sort of).

"Gotham Academy" by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl muses on the question "What on earth would it be like to go to school in Gotham City?"

Welcome to Gotham Academy, the most prestigious school in Gotham City. Only the best and brightest students may enter its halls, study in its classrooms, explore its secret passages, summon its terrifying spirits...

Okay, so Gotham Academy isn't like other schools. But Olive Silverlock isn't like other students. After a mysterious incident over summer break, she's back at school with a bad case of amnesia, an even worse attitude... and an unexplained fear of bats.

Olive's supposed to show new student Maps Mizoguchi the ropes. Problem: Maps is kid sister of Kyle, Olive's ex.

Then there's the ghost haunting the campus...the secret society conducting bizarre rituals...and Bruce Wayne, the weirdo billionaire who funds the Academy - and may know the secret to Olive's big mystery.

(Well you can hardly have a comic set in Gotham without Brucey turning up at least once or twice, can you?)

DC seems to have had an amazing revival in their comics universe over the past few years, particularly with their range for middle grade / YA readers. This is an awesome school drama shot through with enough bat-tastic essence and plenty of awesome in-jokes that break out into the wider bat-universe.

"Gotham Academy" by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl is out now, published by DC.