“On a Sunbeam,” a Genderqueer Space Opera by Tillie Walden

“On a Sunbeam,” by Tillie Walden. First Second Books. October 2018. 533 pp. Paper, 32.99. Young adult, 13+.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find or order all of the books I review at the store.

Comics artist Tillie Walden feels ambivalent about social media. She does post her work, especially her webcomics and works in progress, on her own site, as well as on Instagram and Twitter, but as she told fellow comics artist Jen Wang for the site YA Pride, “I never felt entirely comfortable online. I don’t think it’s ever really suited me,” she adds. “It works for a lot of teens, but I found it all to be a little too artificial.”

It also gives her a lot more time to write and draw. Although she is only 22, her most recent graphic narrative, “On a Sunbeam,” is her sixth. She first published it as a webcomic, her installments averaging 30 pages a week—which, for art with this level of detail and complication, must be a record. The whole work is still available online, but when it comes to a breathtaking full-page panel like this,

or this,

not only is the color more vivid on the page than on the screen, but there’s something to be said for turning the page and holding it in your hands. Continue reading ““On a Sunbeam,” a Genderqueer Space Opera by Tillie Walden”

“The Dragon Slayer: Folk Tales from Latin America,” by Jaime Hernandez

“The Dragon Slayer: Folk Tales from Latin America,” by Jaime Hernandez. TOON Graphics. April 2018. 48 pp. Cloth $16.95, Paper $9.99. Ages 4-10.

Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find or order all of the books I review at the store.

At first it might seem unlikely that Jaime Hernandez, one of the creators of the edgy adult comics series “Love and Rockets,” famous for covers like this:

Image from kuow.org, courtesy of Fantagraphics

would publish on TOON Graphics, a comics press for kids, famous for covers like this:

It makes more sense, however, than you might think. In the past, Jaime Hernandez’s work has been decidedly NOT for kids, as you can see from the top right of the “Love and Rockets” cover above, and as I made sure to note at the beginning of my review of Hernandez’s “Love Bunglers” a few years back. Continue reading ““The Dragon Slayer: Folk Tales from Latin America,” by Jaime Hernandez”

Comics for the Common Core: TOON Books Encourage Kids to Read

An earlier version of this essay ran in the “Elkhart Truth” in September 2014. The “Luke on the Loose” storyline is a good fit for Father’s Day. Thanks to Better World Books, 215 S. Main St. in Goshen, for providing me with books to review. You can find all of these books at the store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a comics devotee, I spend a lot of energy trying to convince people that comics aren’t just for kids—but of course many, many comics are intended for kids in the first place, even when adults enjoy them too. When done well, kids’ comics can strengthen young readers’ tools for interpreting both words and images, and help them develop reading and critical thinking skills crucial to navigating our visually complex society.

I usually review publications less than a year old, but in celebration of the recent creation of TOON Graphics, a new division of TOON books, I’m reviewing two of my preschool-age sons’ favorite books from TOON—practically their favorite books, period—“Luke On the Loose” (2008) and “Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking” (2011). Continue reading “Comics for the Common Core: TOON Books Encourage Kids to Read”