All Ages

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

'Tis the season for catch-up

After a bit of a dry period for kids-related comic news, there's quite a few interesting items to come out these past several days.

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, the 6th and penultimate book in the series gets a release date -- July 16th, 2005, which I believe is earlier than once expected. I'm assuming with the movie franchise moving along (Goblet of Fire is out November 18th, 2005), JK Rowling is trying to keep up the pace, which is definitely a good thing. More info here.

iBooks is planning on releasing a series of graphic novels with new material featuring characters from the classic Harvey line including CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST, RICHIE RICH and HOT STUFF. It will be interesting to see what the tone of these books will be -- new & updated or classic & retro and whether or not the core concepts will resonate with kids.

Disney flexes its comic book muscles again and will increase the frequency of their 'all-comics' issues of DISNEY ADVENTURES. COMIC ZONE will have a quarterly release schedule and feature original stories based on the new hit Disney/Pixar animated movie The Incredibles, the Jetix/ABC Family animated series Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, and the previously published and upcoming animated series on Jetix/ABC Family and Toon Disney, W.I.T.C.H. Disney is enlisting some great talent from the comic book industry here including Patrick the Wolf Boy's Art Baltazar, Oni Comics creator Christine Norrie, classic off-the-wall alt comics creator Matt Feazell and more.

Randy Queen hopes that MANGA DARKCHYLDE will be considered "the Dark Knight of All-ages books." Considering Frank Miller's mature Batman work threw the mainstream superhero industry into the grim n' gritty doldrums that still resonate today (ahem Identity Crisis), I hope he's just mixing up his metaphors here.

As of 5pm today I'm officially on holiday break until the New Year, so expect more time for some long overdue content I've been meaning to post for a good month now. As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A Series of Unfortunate Events

It's called too many deadlines, hectic pre-holiday work crunch, holiday commitments and no blogging.

It's also the name of a successful, yet dreadful book series by Lemony Snicket, or rather Daniel Handler. A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS garnered a bit of comics buzz this past week with the announcement of a comic book adaptation of the upcoming movie in a special edition movie magazine from Nickelodeon. The above link features some great preview art from illustrator Sam Hiti that looks just great. Call me a bit biased though, I've been a big fan of Sam Hiti's work ever since I picked up a mini comics he published a couple of years ago called PHENOMS, which featured kids with amazing superpowers. I knew the quirky sensibility of that comic would translate to something like Series of Unfortunate Events.

I was fortunate last night to see a preview screening of A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS starring Jim Carrey and quite enjoyed it. The overall look and feel of the movie is just great, from the set design of the burned Baudelaire mansion to Count Olaf's outrageous clothing. The actors who portrayed the orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny were great and Carrey's performance as Olaf didn't overshadow the movie like as in most of the films he stars in. The only major flaw of the movie I found was the fact that it doesn't have that strong singular build-up with a blow-your-mind type climax. I think this comes from being adapted from 3 separate books. The movie moves along as a series of narrative peaks and valleys but doesn't have that extreme 'wow' moment at the end. It's a bit of a fizzle...but a satisfying fizzle. Plus, it's just scary enough for the kids to get a thrill without being completely traumatized.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Judy Blume

Remember her? Well, I've decided to go back and read all her works, including the books I read when I was 8, as well as the few new ones she's written since then. I started last night with The One In the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo and Freckle Juice, both slim volumes coming in at around 40-ish pages, geared succinctly to a Grade 2 audience. The one thing i realized re-reading these, especially the latter was that after all these years scenes, dialogue, descriptions and even page layouts (both books use text and black and white line art in various ways) seemed like they had been read just yesterday and still fresh in my memory. This really confirmed how effective kids books can be at create a lasting impression even after so many years. I can't really say I remember any one particular scene from Dickens' Bleak House in any of its 900-ish page length from my first-year university English class. Next up -- the entire Fudge series starting with Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Back on track

Sorry for the mini-hiatus. I'm knee deep in holiday crunch at work. Here's some links I've missed in past couple of weeks:

Newsarama reports that MARY-JANE returns in March with another limited series that I'm assuming will eventually end up as part of the Marvel Age digest line. I still have yet to read the first digest. Whether or not Marvel tries harder to push this in bookstores will remain to be seen.

The Pulse has an interview with Mark Crilley, creator of comic book-turned-prose novel AKIKO, as well as another series published through Random House called BILLY CLIKK. He admits to "taking a break from comics for a moment."

Diamond Distributors is offering BONE in their latest catalogue in both SC and HC editions. As I've said in earlier posts, I've seen both editions and they're equally gorgeous and well worth buying again even if you have the original B&W trades.

Also in the current Previews catalogue is the 2nd volume of OWLY. I can't recommend this book more, especially for school librarians looking to expand their collection with appropriate material for the 7 to 9 age group.