Monday, March 15, 2010

Graphic Novel: Copper

To reflect the changing face of comic books, they were renamed graphic novels. The genre now includes the traditional super heroes and funny comic strips as well as fantasy, adventures, memoirs, and much more. It's one of my favorite genres to read and it's great for encouraging reluctant readers. Often graphic novels can lead readers to find traditional novels. While there is an amazing plethora of graphic novels to choose from, not all of them are truly kid-friendly. Many are written for and aimed at older audiences and can contain more mature content. Yet there are still a lot of great choices available for younger readers as well. Today's review title was one I was eagerly anticipating. It began as a webcomic. Many comic artists are finding that they can support themselves from a webcomic and sale of related merchandise (i.e. books, tshirts, etc.), in fact some newspaper comics (such as Sheldon by Dave Kellett) have even moved only to the online only model which allows for more artistic freedom and more potential than the traditional print model. I read a lot of webcomics, it can be a lot of fun. Of course there are no editors or censors so choose your webcomic carefully!

Book: Copper by Kazu Kibuishi

Awards: Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2009
Vital Stats: Published in January 2010 by Graphix, 96 pages, full color throughout
Marketed Toward: Late elementary school and up
The Quick and Short Of It: This book should be a big hit (and safe for) anyone who enjoys Calvin and Hobbes.

Book Synopsis:
Copper began as a webcomic and can still be read here. It features the adventures of a boy/young man (he seems to live alone and is perhaps early twenties, but younger with his sense of wonder and adventure) named Copper and his dog, Fred. Copper is eager, enthusiastic, optimistic, and a bit naive, while his dog Fred is more of a pessimist, worrier, realist, and a bit more jaded. Together they have dreams, imaginations, flights of fancies, and adventures. Most of the book is single page standalone mini-stories where they go fishing, dance with robots, go hiking and more. (I just wanted an excuse to link to some of my favorite strips.) Interspersed among the standalones are a few longer multi-page stories. The entire book is rich with colors, rounded characters, cuteness and wonder. It's a book that inspires the imagination. The last few pages are an in-depth discussion by the author of how each strip is created. Perfect for inspiring budding comic artists with some great tips and techniques.

My Take:
We've all had to accept that there will never be any more Calvin and Hobbes, but fortunately there are a great number of artists to take their place. I gave this book to a friend of mine with two boys, she thought her kids (ages 5 and 8) were too young to get it. Fair point, but the next level up of kids will love it. I know I finished the book chucking, happy, and wanting more.

Possible Issues of Concern/Christian Connection:
One character calls another an idiot, another time an "old fool" and refers to something as it "sucks". (I've got two of the strips linked so you can see it in context.) It's online so you can read for yourself for free, and decide for yourself. I think with the 11+ crowd it should be fine.

You Might Also Like:
I also recommend the Sheldon by Dave Kellett I linked earlier. Great strip about a 10 year-old orphan genius who owns a billion dollar software company (he's a tech genius), is being raised by his grandfather, and shares his life with friends, a talking duck, a pug, and a lizard. Read it online or get one of the books. (Recently on Saturdays he's been doing a new sci-fi comic, don't let it confuse you.)

Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of Him who is perfect in knowledge?
- Job 35:16


Post a Comment