I just received a review copy of Bone: Quest for the Spark Book Two by Tom Sniegoski with illustrations from Bone creator Jeff Smith. I reviewed the first book in March of this year. This second book in the series isn't going to be available until February of next year. So if you're looking for a Bone-related gift this month go with the first book and I'll get my thoughts up on the second book sometime in January next year.
It was just a year ago that we reviewed Doug TenNapel's graphic novel Ghostopolis which was a clever, adventure in a purgatory-like world of the dead. This year TenNapel has a new graphic novel available this month — Bad Island — which is an inventive, exciting and moving adventure. It's much more science-fiction and action-adventure in tone than Ghostopolis which had sort of a noir detective feel to it.
Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman is a collection of Roman's webcomic Astronaut Elementary. It's a wonderfully produced book with a great cover featuring Roman's art set off by a metallic silver cover. The book doesn't change the structure of the webcomic — a series of short stories, each told from the perspective of different characters at Astronaut Academy. The stories build together to form an overarching plot for the book yet still retain their own element of closure.
Roman has a cheerfully cartoonish style of art with just a touch of manga influence. Just the character designs in this book alone are fun but Roman crafts a number of interesting personalities to round out the cast — from the former space hero turned student Hakata Soy to introspective space walker Doug Hiro to new teacher Senor Panda (still not extinct!).
I guess I've reviewed my share of Bone books now. After releasing just about every bit of Bone comics material by the end of last year, Scholastic is now publishing a text novel series written by Tom Sniegoski with illustration from creator Jeff Smith. Sniegoski wrote some of the comics in last year's collection, Bone: Tall Tales so he's not a newcomer to this world. Still it's a leap from collaborating with the creator of a comic on a comic to taking on writing Bone: Quest for the Spark – a text novel (the first in a planned trilogy) based in the Bone universe.
Pilot & Huxley by Dan McGuiness is shorter graphic novel – coming in around 60ish pages. I have to admit on my first read I found it a bit ehhh, a little like a younger version of countless Cartoon Network cartoon series. The x-girls, however, both assured me they thought it was really funny.
Sometimes I catch books when they're new, sometimes they slip through the cracks at ComixTalk headquarters. Today I'm covering two comic series for kids: Guinea PI: Pet Shop Private Eye and Adventures in Cartooning.
Every now and then someone sends me a non-comics book, usually an all ages one, probably because I've been reviewing more comics aimed at a younger audience in recent years. Archvillian by Barry Lyga is one such book. Possibly, Scholastic sent it to ComixTalk because of it's superhero-inspired theme (okay make that likely because of…). Lyga has been writing superhero-inspired young adult novels since 2006, but to be honest I'd never heard of him before nor read anything else by him. Which isn't surprising as my kids (aka the X-girls) tend more towards fantasy and mystery more than science fiction so far and I don't think they've ever gone for a superhero story on their own initiative.
Still I gave this one a shot — it's the story of Kyle Camden who starts off the book as the smartest and most popular kid in school, but also a kid who has already decided that he has no time to suffer for fools and that by and large the rules don't apply to him. He is loved and feared because of a trail of legendary pranks he's committed (although the book's recounting of the "pranks" in his past reveals that they are actually kind of pedestrian). It's a book told entirely from Kyle's point of view too so there's not much of a reality check on what he tells us of other characters in the story or about himself.
I loved The Unsinkable Walker Bean — it's an old fashioned adventure story full of vibrant characters and clever twists and turns. Aaron Renier has delivered a fantastic book. The coloring by Alec Longstreth is also really fantastic. I was not really familiar with Renier's work beforehand, but this comic reflects someone in full command of their creative powers. Everything fits together well — strong characters, strong plot with great pacing throughout, and a whole world and mythology Renier has cooked up to support this tale.
Joann Sfar is a fantastic comic artist – he is well-known as part of the new wave of Franco-Belgian comics and was also the artist on the multi-volume all ages series Sardine in Outer Space. He has done a marvelous job of adapting the famous tale of The Little Prince to comics. And let's be sure to hand out credit as well to Sarah Ardizzone who translated Sfar's adaptation into English.
The tale of The Little Prince is fairly famous at this point. Author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote the story while in America during World War II. It was published in 1943, the year before de Saint-Exupéry joined Free French forces and ultimately crashed over the Mediterranean on a reconnaissance mission during the war. It is one of the most popular books of the last century, translated in many languages. It is often described as a philosophical tale but it is also clearly autobiographical in a sense. Saint-Exupéry flew for many years, often working for national post services. On December 30, 1935, he crashed in the Libyan Sahara desert. Along with his navigator, Saint-Exupéry survived three days in the desert with extreme dehydration and hallucinations. They were rescued on the fourth day by a Bedouin traveling by camel. The Little Prince begins with a pilot crashed in the desert, needing to fix his plane and escape before succumbing to the heat and dehydration.