MTVG-Primates

Last week, First Second Books released "Primates", an all-ages historical graphic novel that tells the story of famed primatologists Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas – and to celebrate the book's launch, we got the chance to talk to writer Jim Ottaviani and artist Maris Wicks about their creative process and the inspiration behind this project.

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comic-book-classroom
Image source: Denver Comic Con

It may not have taken comics to teach me to read (as a latchkey kid, sometimes Piers Anthony and Robert Heinlein were my best friends after school), but when I found comics, they opened up reading for me in a pretty big way, adding a back catalog of decades of fictional continuity to chase down and absorb as I fell into the worlds of Spider-Man, Batman, and uh, "Warriors of Plasm."

Colorado-based Comic Book Classroom is hoping to do the same for poor and needy kids in the community, using comics as an end run to promote literacy and storytelling to help young readers develop problem-solving skills in their everyday lives. CBC is on the ground at Denver Comic Con, where proceeds from each ticket will be used to fund the program while several workshops throughout the weekend will give some of the younger comic fans out there a chance to learn how to tell stories sequentially.

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Why is that big orange cat so cool? One so-so feline is going to follow his every move to find out -- all in "Garfield" #7, hitting stores next week on Nov. 7th from KaBOOM! Check out the preview below: Read More...

from "Johnny Hiro" by Fred Chao

By Patrick A. Reed

Saturday evening, I lucked into attending one of the more interesting and off-beat panels of the entire New York Comic Con weekend. The World Of Graphic Novels was moderated by Scott Robins (author of "A Parent's Guide To The Best Kids' Comics"), and featured a variety of writers and artists discussing the importance of setting their stories in believable worlds, be they real-life settings or alien planets. (Raina Telgemeier was scheduled to take part, but had to cancel her appearance, leaving this as one of far too many panels over the weekend that proceeded without a single woman participant.) Read More...

Sunday was the last day of FanExpo Canada, which meant one thing: Kids Day! Or at least, ever so slightly more kids content than usual, including a panel with some experts on making comics for a younger audience. On the panel were Faith Erin Hicks (Bigfoot Boy), Willow Dawson (Hyena in Petticoats), Scott Chantler (Three Thieves), and Jack Briglio (Growing Up Enchanted), moderated by Jennifer Haines, owner of the Eisner winning comic book store The Dragon.

“It sometimes feels like a niche market, but it shouldn’t be,” said Haines before introducing the panel. Things then kicked off talking about writing your own material, versus licensed material - which is obviously a large part of kids comics. “With Scooby Doo, I remembered the ‘60s ones, and I wanted to be faithful to that,” said Briglio, adding that beyond that, it has to go through multiple levels of the Editorial process. With his own work, “doing my own series is far more liberating.” Read More...

By Danica Davidson

The crowd-funding website Kickstarter may have only started up a few years ago, but it keeps on being in the news as graphic novelists use it to cover the printing cost of their books. Our latest example is that of comic book writer Garth Ennis, known for his work with Preacher and Punisher. He’s using the site for his new project, ERF.

ERF, which is written by Ennis and illustrated by Rob Steen, is a children’s book taking place way, way, way back in time. According to the description: “ERF is the story of four friends at the dawn of time; Figwillop, KWAAAH!, the Booper, and Erf himself, and their adventures in the primordial world of long ago. The four take their first nervous steps out of the ocean and onto the shore, and are soon exploring the exciting new lands beyond. But danger lurks in the prehistoric jungle, and soon our heroes come face to face with the mighty and terrifying Colossux . . . An evolutionary tale of love and loyalty for children aged four and up.”

The project will be on Kickstarter until March 18 and needs to earn $12,000 to be funded. They’re hoping to print 1,500 to 2,000 copies, though it might be more if they earn enough money. This is Ennis’s first children’s book, and the complete book will be just under 50 pages and comprising of full-color illustrations.

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The new ongoing comic book series Peanuts, from Boom! Studios’ kaboom! children’s line, has two rather Herculean tasks on its hands. First, of course, is following in the footsteps of a master cartoonist like Charles M. Schulz; it partially solves this issue by running the artist’s original Peanuts Sunday strips alongside the new material. The second feat: adapting the Peanuts characters into a format that breaks them out of the comic strip and fits them more into a standard comic book narrative for kids. The result is not exactly the Peanuts I grew up with, but a a spirited hybrid that has a little something for everybody.

First, on to the great: the art here by Vicki Scott, Paige Braddock, and Matt Whitlock has a charming, bouyant quality that keeps the spirit of Schulz’ work alive without being a stiff & studied copy. In particular, Whitlock’s art in “Cat Cash” has alot of bounce and charm, taking full advantage of the unique dimensions of the comic book page but avoiding becoming something unrecognizable to Peanuts fans. The coloring is bright and gorgeous across the board, really making the book “pop” -- though it might be weird seeing modern “modeling” techniques and shading (though subtly done) on these characters.

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By Sean Kleefeld

Thanks in no small part to the enormous success of the Batman television show in the 1960s, media articles about comics have a penchant for including Pow! or Zap! in them as a shorthand means of communicating some of the effects that tend to be used in comics more than other forms of media. I know many comic fans, myself included, who got quite sick of the trope back in the 1980s when The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen seemed to be the subject of any number of articles talking about the “maturity” of contemporary comics. These days, even saying that “Wham! Comics Aren’t Just For Kids Anymore!” is an overused title is in itself tiresome.

Although specific demographic data is hard to come by, a recent study of 1.2 million self-identified comic fans found that 63% were between 18 and 30 years old. Another 23% were older than that. Which leaves a mere 14% under the age of 18, just under half of which are in high school. This speaks to what the industry as whole anecdotally “knows” -- that their primary audience is not the historical 8-12 year old kid that 1950’s parents feared saw too much gore in Tales from the Crypt, but an adult population that is at least reasonably well-educated. (28% reported having a college degree, and another 12% cited being in college.)

So the complaint often lodged against comic publishers these days isn’t so much that some of their books might be inappropriate for young children, but rather than NONE of their books are appropriate for young children. A reasonable claim, since the publishers tend to cater to their largest (adult) audience. Read More...

Last year, author and general all around cool dude Neil Gaiman made a modest proposal (that had nothing to do with eating human beings): how about we give away books on Halloween instead of – or even in addition to – candy? I read about this on Twitter, and though I like to read, and I love Halloween, I was a little, shall we say, doubtful, that kids would want reading material instead of candy bars.

Regardless, I sat out on my front steps in a highly trafficked area of Brooklyn with a huge tub of delicious candy, and a longbox full of comics. I told kids they could have either, a comic book, or a piece of candy, or one of both, it was up to them – expecting that I would truck my comics upstairs at the end of the night, and be left sadly candy free. To say I was wrong is an understatement. In under an hour, I had to go back upstairs three times to restock the comic book box, eventually giving away over 400 all ages comics to kids, while the candy bowl sat, mostly untouched. And not to go over the top, but it really was one of the most exciting, heart-warming, and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. Read More...

"...this is clearly a young Superman book with a twist."

Do you like Superman? Wish he was in high school, easily readable by all ages, and had a good message about watching what you eat? The welcome to Power Lunch, the new (hopefully ongoing) series by J. Torres and Dean Trippe; a delightfully creative and earnest graphic novel that should be given out in lunch rooms along with every well balanced meal.

The book kicks off with a kid named Joey heading to school, and finding out from the OLD weird kid – Jerome – that he, Joey is the NEW weird kid at the school. This gets backed up pretty nicely by the fact that Joey only eats white food, and claims to have superpowers… A Fact he ends up backing up a little bit later.

Okay, spoiler time, because there’s no way to talk about the book without mentioning the central conceit: whenever Joey eats colored foods, he gets a different power. For trail mix, super speed. For bubble gum, super jumping. You get the idea.

Over the course of the tightly written book, Joey and Jerome deal with a bully named Bug, learn how to be friends, and explore Joey’s powers. That’s pretty much it! Except at the same time, the simplicity belies a complex amount of thought that’s gone into each brightly rendered panel. Read More...

Mameshiba on the Loose! is a fun adventure comic that is goofy enough for kids but smart enough to make adults smile as well.

Mameshiba are cute little rounded creatures with the facial features of cartoon dogs, no limbs to speak of, and a propensity for spouting random bits of trivia. ("Mameshiba" is a made-up Japanese word that combines "mame," or "bean," with "shiba," a type of dog.) They first appeared in short television cartoons devised by the Japanese ad agency Dentsu to fill unsold slots, but they sort of took on a life of their own and became popular with viewers. Still, the cartoons are very short and very minimal. Read More...

A boy drops a pea from his fork. The pea suddenly develops a face and floppy ears and announces "In French, dandelions are called pissenlit, which means 'urinate in bed.'"

 

Welcome to the wacky world of Mameshiba, where legumes from cashew nuts to coffee beans surprise unsuspecting diners with odd bits of trivia. Read More...

Marvel Comics announced that they're set to go back over the rainbow in September for Dorothy & The Wizard Of Oz. Eric Shanower and Skottie Young return for the 4th Oz book, featuring Dorothy and her cat Eureka traveling to the land of imagination once again after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. (We recently chatted with Young at HeroesCon and you can read the interview here!) Check out the cover for Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz #1 below, and then read on for more details about this next chapter in the highly popular all-ages comic book series!

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At the Viz panel at FanimeCon this weekend, Marketing Director Candice Uyloan announced that Viz will publish two "film comics" based on the new Studio Ghibli movie Arrietty the Borrower (Karigurashi no Arietti), and Viz spokesperson told MTV Geek that the company is also planning to publish a picture book and an art book based on the movie, which will be released in the UK in July and the U.S. next February. (The English-language voice cast includes Carol Burnett and Amy Poehler.)

 

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I’m often asked by parents what are good titles to buy their daughters in order to start them off with a lifelong love of comic books. One really important thing to remember before you buy comics for young females is that: there are no “one size fits all” comic books just for girls! There is really no such thing as “comics for girls” -- perhaps something with pink covers and glitter, for instance. It all depends on what the personal tastes and preferences are of the girl in question.

An easy way to determine what type of comics a girl (for the purposes of this article, “girl” refers to any female from 7 to 17 years of age) would enjoy is to observe what they are into in other media like books or TV. For instance, she is a big fan of Harry Potter, you might want to try titles like Scholastic’s Amulet series, or Oni’s Spell Checkers. A fan of fantasy books like Lord of the Rings? Try Mouse Guard from Archaia Studio Press or the Bone series from GRAPHIX.

Sometimes there is a direct comic book adaptation of a girl’s favorite book, TV show, or movie that might be a good gateway to eventually try other types of comics. Is she mad about Twilight? Start her with the Twilight Graphic Novel from Yen Press. A Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan? Start with Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 series of collected editions. Check out Dark Horse too if she's a Star Wars fan! The Artemis Fowl and Percy Jackson book series have graphic novel adaptations out now, as well. Read More...

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