Friday, December 28, 2007


The second NYC KIDS' COMIC CON is coming March 29, 2008! And this time, one of the co-sponsors will be the NEW YORK COMIC CON!

The focus of this comicon is to bring young people, parents, artists, and educators together for a fun and enlightening view of the industry. Specifically they are inviting teachers, librarians, and more to show them how the comic book field works and how it can support literacy and other academic goals.

All of this without the gore, extreme violence, nudity or vulgarity. How about that? They report that it will be a full-blown all-age event.

March 29, 2008
10 am- 6pm

Bronx Community College

I would love to go and speak, but I do not know if I can do either. The graduate student’s wallet is pretty thin these days. We will see how things go. I would love to take my wife and daughter and really have a good time.

For more information contact: Alex Simmons at


Scoop, a free newsletter from Diamond Comic Distributors, had an article on using comics in education. In addition, Diamond wants to know what you think about using comics in the classroom. You can do so by emailing this person:

The comic movement is growing … and fast. This is the perfect time to embrace a new technique and help students discover reading for enjoyment and learning.

Read the article here.


(The cover art of THE HOBBIT graphic novel.)

(Interior art of THE HOBBIT graphic novel.)

Think ahead just a bit – 2010 to be exact. That year will be the perfect year to re-introduce your students to J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic Middle Earth opus. This time, you should be able to gear it for younger kids.

THE HOBBIT is coming to the silver screen and you are in luck because there is both a traditional book and a comic book adaptation. Just think of the literature connections, compare/contrast opportunities, religion-related themes, epic hero story exploration, and great story telling that will be at your finger tips that year!

Considering the price, I suggest you start building your collect of the comic adaptation now, so that you will have multiple copies for your students. The same goes for collecting copies of the original book as well. I already have a copy of THE HOBBIT graphic novel and it is a great rendition of Tolkien’s story.

Just so you know, Rankin/Bass (the guys who did all the claymation Rudolph et al. Christmas movies) also made an animated version of THE HOBBIT. I watched it as a kid. That cartoon was my first introduction to Tolkien and I fell in love with his universe.

Before the movie comes out I will review the comic adaptation. You can keep up with the goings-on at THE HOBBIT BLOG, the official movie site. Thanks to Scoop for breaking the news.

You can buy the comic adapation at:
Barnes and Noble

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Using comics and graphic novels in the classroom is a movement that is gaining momentum. As more groups such as The American Library Association, the mainstream media, and of course, The Graphic Classroom bring light to this form of literacy, the acceptance of the movement increases. This also means that more and more teachers, who were previously unfamiliar with comics, join the fray.

Once a teacher decides to use comics and graphic novels in the classroom, then the teacher must also find ways to access and store those comics. It can take time to build up a classroom comic library and not all school libraries stock comics, although more and more are doing it. Assuming that a teacher is building a good number of comics for the classroom, how does that teacher store and protect those comics safely?

Graphic novels are safer than comics because of their size and thickness. Graphic novels can be stored right on the bookshelf like any other paperback. Comics are a different story. Comics are more prone to damage and so care must be taken to protect them. It can be an expensive endeavor for a teacher to collect and purchase his own comics for use in the classroom and there is no need to increase that expense by experimenting with different comic book products. I have outlined here my recommendations on how best to protect your comics in the classroom.

Bags and Boards
The most popular and economical way to preserve comics is to bag and board them. The bags are clear, polypropylene sleeves with a flap into which the comic is placed. The flap is then pulled over the top and sealed. Because comics are flexible, the standard is to “board the comics”, which means sliding an archival safe white board into the bad behind the comic. This gives stability to the comic and protects it from being bent or damaged.

There are different sizes and types of bags. Most of the comics that I have collected are Current (Modern) Age comics. I do not recommend using older comics –Silver or Golden Age – in my classroom because of their age and cost. Comics from the 1980’s to present are considered part of the Modern Age and will make up the bulk of what most teachers offer.

The typical sizes for bags are as follows:
Current Age bags can tend to be a bit tight fitting requiring a fine touch to get the comic inside the bag safely. The problem is that children are not delicate, so this is not the best solution. BCW Supplies, a wholesale and retail comic book supplier, offers a Current Age Thick bag, which is designed for modern comics, but it is slightly larger (7 x 10 1/2) than the traditional Current sized bag. The comics slide easily into and out of the bag with no problems, yet the comic does not have too much room to move around. The Current Thick bag still uses the normal Current size board, which is available anywhere.

Not all retail comic stores will carry BCW brand named supplies and those that do may not offer the Current Thick bags. However, BCW also offers a retail site where individuals can order directly from the manufacturer. Because none of my comic book shops in the area carry my bags, I order directly from BCW. An appropriate substitute would be to use Silver Age bags and boards. They are easier to find as all comic shops will carry this size bag and board, but I find they have a bit too much room.

Traditional Bags versus Re-sealable Bags
The typical way of sealing a comic inside a bag is to tape the flap shut. The problem with this is that when you try to remove the tape to read the comic, it can tear the bag. The tape also stays on the flap, which increases the likelihood of snagging the comic on the tape as you remove it from the bag. Kids are going to do this and it will ruin your comics. I recommend using re-sealable (also referred to as flip-and-stick) bags. These bags have a strip of adhesive on the bag and do not require tape. I have experimented with different re-sealable bags. Some have the adhesive on the flap and others place the adhesive on the back of the bag. A bag with the adhesive on the flap is worthless in the classroom as kids are bound to get the comic stuck to it. Again, I recommend BCW’s Re-sealable bags because the adhesive is on the back of the bag. These are what I use.

Comics that are bagged and boarded need to be shelved or stored in some way. The comic book industry makes cardboard and plastic boxes specifically designed to hold comics. These can be purchased at almost any comic book shop. These boxes come with lids and are available in long and short sizes. Long comic boxes can be hard to manage and move, so I recommend purchasing the short boxes. They will save your back and are easier to place in small spaces.

Plastic dividers are also available. I use these with my comics to make them easier to locate in the box. These are plastic rectangles with tabs on the top. These are used to divide the comics by titles in the box. You can affix labels to the tabs showing the titles. This way children can find the comics they are looking for easily. Most comic shops will either stock these or be able to order them for you. Just ask. Brand names do not matter.

I recommend making the bulk of your comics easily available to students. We want to encourage students to read and easy access means more reading after an assignment is finished early. However, there may be comics or graphic novels that a teacher feels need to checked out or limited for some reason. The title may be expensive, controversial, or very special. Certainly a teacher can limit accessibility to these comics or graphic novels by putting them behind the desk or in a special box. However, a teacher needs to take care that the children are aware of the titles and the rules or norms that determine how or when a student can get access to these special titles. I do recommend that if a comic is very special – very precious – to you for any reason, then that comic stays home. If you want to display a very special comic that is not to be read, then there are acrylic comic book displays that do protect the investment from little hands.

Comics Versus Trade Paperbacks
Should a teacher keep comics, graphic novels, or both in the classroom? There is no right answer, but The Graphic Classroom recommends that a variety of materials be available to students. This includes stocking both comics and graphic novels in many styles, genres, and reading levels.

It is true, that many publishers will collect several issues of your favorite comic book series and publish it as a trade paperback. Typically, purchasing comics in a trade paperback format is cheaper and will last longer than an individual comic. It is a good way to stock a classroom or school library with comics. It is entirely possible for a teacher or librarian to only offer trade paperbacks and there is really nothing wrong with that. However, there is something nostalgic about reading a story from individual comics. Teaching children to respect and care for something is a good lesson and comics can help them do that. They can learn how to care for and protect individual comics.

Reading Levels
Comics tend to have a high level of interest with students. Some titles have Lexile or AR levels available. However, I caution teachers about limiting student access to comics based on reading levels. Because of the high interest, students may be interested in challenging material. I recommend allowing students to self-direct their use of comics and give them to opportunity to explore what they are interested in and can read. Because of the pictures, students may be able to read higher-level books than typical. I recommend giving students unfettered access to the classroom collection.

My Recommendations – An Overview
  1. Always bag and board your comics. Period.
  2. Use BCW’s Current Re-Sealable Bags –Thick (7 x 10 1/2).
  3. Use any brand acid-free Current sized board.
  4. Store comics in short comic boxes with lids.
  5. Use dividers between titles.
  6. Keep comics easily accessible to students.
  7. Stock both individual comics and graphic novels.
  8. Stock a variety of titles, styles, genres and reading levels.
  9. Do not restrict titles based on reading levels.


My family and I are ready for the holidays. We will be gone over Christmas so there will not be a review next week. I will, however, be taking some books with me to read and review over the holidays. This week, I leave you not with a review, but an article on how to store and preserve the comics in your classroom.

Notice that Linnworth Press has a new book out – Getting Graphic! Comics for Kids listed below – on how to chose comic books and graphic novels for children. I haven’t read it yet, but it is packed with titles, publishers, and pictures.

  1. The Cryptics #3
  2. Getting Graphic! Comics for Kids
  3. Glister Vol. 3
  4. Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #9
  5. Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #19

Friday, December 14, 2007


Volume 1

Volume 2

PUBLISHER: Pantheon Books
GENRE: Nonfiction

FORMAT: Two trade paperbacks
VOLUME: 1 & 2
PAGES (1): 159 pages
PAGES (2): 136 pages
COLOR: Black and white
ISBN-10 (1): 0-394-74723-2
ISBN-10 (2): 0-679-72977-1

Art Spiegelman climbs the rope and rings the bell with this Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust and his parents who endured it all. MAUS is indeed powerful in its presence and breathtaking in its sadness and honesty about the family’s fight to live in a world where their very existence was despised, but this is no typical tale of the Holocaust. This is about how such horrors permeate the very soul and trickle down to the children of survivors.

Spiegelman weaves two tales of woe. The first is of his father and mother, Vladek and Anja, and their journey through the Hell that was the Holocaust. The second centers on the ramifications that befell the Spiegelman clan post-war. Affectionately called “Artie” by his father, Spiegelman exposes the holes in his family structure – the suffering and sorrow that surrounds the family – straining the father-son relationship.

MAUS is painful to watch, painful to read, painful to experience. There is so much sadness, too much for one family to endure, and it shows in the scars – superficial and subconscious – that influence every aspect of the father and passed down to the son.

MAUS is more than pain. It is a befuddling story of human psychology. That Anja kept the strength to endure the hate, only to take her own life after the war was over is but one aspect that confounds and angers me. How can Vladek be the victim of such hatred and yet harbor his own hate for African Americans? It is this irony and hypocrisy that makes MAUS resonate. It is a real story about flawed people and the pain of the human existence.

It is certainly an interesting choice to use the comic format to tell his story. It is daring to then portray the characters as animals, but through his careful crafting between time lines and the intricate weaving of meta-fictional storytelling, Spiegelman ends up with a story that transcends his own family.

Missouri State University was hosting a book talk on Jewish graphic novel literature at the time I read MAUS. As one member of the group noted, Spiegelman uses a technique described by Scott McCloud in his book, Understanding Comics, whereby the characters are drawn with little detail while the backgrounds are much more detailed. The generically-drawn characters allows the reader to assume the role of the protagonist, while the detailed backgrounds set the stage for a genuine experience. Most American comics, in contrast, are very detailed which creates space, according to McCloud, between the reader and the text. The technique worked in MAUS.

The art of this graphic novel, the crafting of the visual story, is compelling in itself. Spiegelman layers the art in a way that is not typically used in other comics. He also creates panels in which history and present collide and resonate.

My Rating: High School

To be used in a classroom setting, I would probably wait until high school before introducing MAUS. The work is powerful and deserves to be studied for its many intricacies.

MAUS is about the Holocaust and it pulls no punches.

There is not enough space to write about how MAUS could be used in the classroom. As a piece of literature, the story works on many levels. The role of God in the lives of persons and the feelings of betrayal are but one aspect. The effects of tragedy on the victims is unconsciously passed down to children and even grandchildren. The definition of “survival” is key to understanding this book. The crafting of the art itself deserves independent study. MAUS is indeed a piece of literature that deserves the acclaim and the awards it has received.

Highly Recommended
MAUS is probably the most am not sure that another title will come any time soon. It is chilling, gripping and absorbing and I do not have a category or recommendation high enough for MAUS.


Finals are finished but there will be no laurel-sitting for me. I have much to read, write, and review. I am worried about getting all my writing commitments completed by the time the next semester begins. Marvel and DC titles make up this week’s list. Check it:

  1. The Batman Strikes #40
  2. The Man in the Iron Mask #6 (of 6)

Friday, December 7, 2007








AUTHOR: Russell Lissau (30, 35, 37), Josh Elder (36), Bill Matheny (38), Jai Nitz (39)
PENCILS: Sanford Greene (30), Christopher Jones (35-39)
INKS: Nathan Massengill (30), Terry Beatty (35-39)
PUBLISHER: Johnny DC (DC Comics)
GENRE: Superhero

FORMAT: Monthly comic
ISSUES: 30 & 35-39
PAGES: 32 pages each
COLOR: Full color

From the ad sheets …

#30: The unlikely dynamic duo of Bruce Wayne and Alfred faces a squad of high-tech thieves. Then Catwoman gets involved.

#35: The Joker and Harley Quinn take control of the airwaves!

#36: Gearhead's turning Gotham City into a gigantic demolition derby! Batman's going to need all the help he can get, even if that means letting Batgirl get behind the wheel of the Batmobile!

#37: Killer Croc's home are the sewers of Gotham City, and that "home" has led him straight to the Batcave! Batman's not going to be happy when he meets the cave's newest guest….

#38: Poison Ivy's out for a night out on the town, but don't worry — Batman and Robin are hot on her tail! What can the Dynamic Duo do when no one in Gotham City has seen Ivy committing a crime?

#39: The streets of Gotham City are free of criminals, and it's Black Mask's fault! Can Batman figure out how to stop a criminal who isn't committing crimes?

I’ve been collecting THE BATMAT STRIKES for five months now and finally have enough issues that I feel I can read the series and give it a fair review. I sat down with a half dozen issues, one of which was signed by Russell Lissau, and gave it a whirl.

THE BATMAN STRIKES is exactly what I thought and hoped it would be. This title promises to be a traditional superhero comic intended for children and it delivers on that promise. The stories are exactly what very young children need: self-contained and to the point. There are not any story line diversions or complicated histories to sift through. The writing is tight and the story moves along very quickly and is driven mostly by the action.

One aspect that Johnny DC kept, more of a product of the days of yore, was the “letters” section at the end of the book. Ranging in ages from 4 to tween, kids are welcome to send in letters about and drawings of the elusive bat. These letters may seem trite and self-indulgent from the perspective of an adult, but to children these letters are a link to others who are like them. My friend, Larry, often speaks of wearing his cape, consisting of an old towel, to school on his first day of kindergarten. To Larry, and to many children across the nation, the comic book allows for self-expression and self-visualization, that other forms of entertainment do not.

The students in your classrooms will love reading these letters and may be inspired to write their own letters and submit their own illustrations. (If you think just a bit, such a letter could fit nicely into a state standard.) If a student is inspired enough to write a letter or send an illustration to a publisher, then that is a child who is hooked on reading, a child who has a vested interest in what he or she is reading. That is a child who loves reading. Mission accomplished!

The art is blocky – square – with heavy inks and lots of contrast. Details are sparse, but this is consistent with the art on the animated series. I was not sold on the art at first, but as I continued to read the illustrations grew on me. The illustrators do a good job moving the story along and creating action. The placement and design of panels seems to push the reader through the story, which works well in a self-contained story aimed at younger readers. In the end, kids will feel that this title is designed just for them.

My Rating: All Ages
Publisher’s Rating: For Kids

Johnny DC is the line of comics that DC publishes specifically for kids. I think all of the titles are tie-ins with animated shows on Cartoon Network or the WB.

The story lines begin and end in the same issue and this is an important aspect for teachers. First, this means that every issue is a story unto itself. So the teacher is not required to collect every issue in order to maintain continuity. If a teacher misses an issue or more, then the story is not interrupted. Secondly, this means that a student who finished his or her work early can pull out any issue of THE BATMAN STRIKES and conceivably have it read by the time the class moves on the next assignment.

Thirdly, these short, action-dominated stories are a part of differentiated learning. Self-contained, action stories are easy for struggling students, and students with disabilities, to read alone or with a friend. To that student who has given up on reading, THE BATMAN STRIKES and other similar titles may well be the thing that can give the confidence boost needed to help a student to discover reading for enjoyment.

As I mentioned in the Story Review, I think a teacher could use the Letters section in the back of the book to get kids to want to write. This can include higher order thinking skills as student predict what has happened, connect it to something that has already happened, or make suggestions on what should happen in the future. Students frequently asks Johnny DC questions about upcoming issues and what will happen. What a venue. And to top it all off, maybe some of your students’ letters will be published. How cool is that?

If you are tempted to think that comics are not real literature, then think again. Comics can help you keep students engaged, on task, and even help you meet your state and district educational standards.

Other titles in the Johnny DC line include:
  7. TINY TITANS (to be released soon)

In other news, when I attended Chicago Comicon in 2007, I met up with writers Russell Lissau and Josh Elder. Click here for that article. We discussed, among other things, the need to have good all ages comics and graphic novels. Many comics have abandoned their roots in order to appease a more grown-up audience; however, the original comic consumer – the kid – is still out there and in desperate need for good comic literature. I’m glad to see that there are dedicated comic writers and illustrators, like Lissau and Elder, who work for the younger reader.

Do not pass up the chance to offer students titles such as THE BATMAN STRIKES, just because we adults have been told that comics are not real literature. THE BATMAN STRIKES is an important aspect in the hierarchy of comic literature that is a part of differentiated instruction. It is literature and needs to be offered in the classroom. You may find that your inclusion of such a title makes all the difference in that hard-to-reach child’s life. THE BATMAN STRIKES rocks.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Paul D. Storrie
INKS: Ron Randall
COLORS: Hi-Fi Colour Design
LETTERING: Bill Hauser
PUBLISHER: Graphic Universe (Lerner Publishing)
GENRE: Traditional Literature

FORMAT: Hardback
PAGES: 48 pages
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 0-8225-6757-1
ISBN-13: 978-0-8225-6757-8

Warrior, hero and King: Beowulf was all three to the people known as the Geats. Beowulf, hearing of King Hrothgar’s troubles, comes to the King of the Danes to rid him of the monster, Grendel, who kills the humans in the mead hall every nightfall. He lays in wait for Grendel – minus his mail, sword and shield – and attacks the beast bare handed, tearing off his arm.

Grendel flees to his mother’s lair to die. In her rage, his monstrous mother comes to the mead hall to enact her revenge, kidnapping and killing one warrior. So Beowulf goes to the lair beneath the rancid waters and swims to her den. There he takes a sword of the giants and kills her, beheads the dead Grendel, then leaves.

Beowulf was rewarded for his great deeds and eventually became the King of the Geats. In his twilight years, a dragon sought revenge on the people because a servant stole a golden cup from the dragon’s hoard. So Beowulf donned his sword and, armed with a new shield specially designed to withstand the dragon’s fire, Beowulf went to destroy the beast.

On that battlefield, Beowulf declared war on the worm and there they fought. His fearful men retreated save one, but Beowulf was fatally wounded. After the dragon was destroyed, Beowulf gave his possessions and kingdom to Wigluf, his faithful warrior, and was then burned in a funeral pyre and his remains buried in a barrow for all to see. Such is the story of the great Beowulf.

This is the BEOWULF title to use for elementary children, plain and simple. It tells the tale of BEOWULF but does so in such a way that does not talk down to students and is still appropriate for them. I have read and reviewed other BEOWULF adaptations and this version stands as tall as the others. The only difference that I noticed is that in this version BEOWULF swims directly to the she-beast’s lair without incident or intervention.

The language is modern but still maintains a hint of antiquity in both vocabulary and grammatical structure – just enough to add flavor to the story but not derail young readers. The illustrations are artfully crafted to depict the story with very little bloodshed being shown, which is significantly different than some other versions. This reflects the intended audience of the book: students in public schools.

As is common with the Graphic Universe series, the colors are bright and vibrant. The illustrations are rendered in a realistic style, which is typical of American comics. There are details in both the foreground and background as well with the characters.

My Rating: Ages 9 and older
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 9-14
Publisher’s Reading Level: Grade 4
Publisher’s Interest Level: Grades 4-8

ATOS: 4.3
Lexile: Not rated at time of publication

To teach traditional literature in a classroom, one simply need open this graphic novel. Kids will be interested and engaged. In fact, many students will be eager to write their own action-adventure-fantasy stories after reading BEOWULF. There is so much a person could do with this text, including discussions on Scandinavian cultures and the influence of the culture on European (and American) culture. Certainly the hero mythology could be deeply explored using both traditional and modern heroes. Students could also come up with their own hero stories.

The good people from Lerner Publishing have included all kinds of goodies at the end of the book. They offer a glossary, pronunciation guide, information for further reading (text and Internet), and a brief description on the creation of this adaptation.

Other titles in the Graphic Myths and Legends series include:
  1. Amaterasu: Return of the Sun
  2. Arthur & Lancelot: The Fight for Camelot
  3. Atalanta: The Race Against Destiny
  4. Demeter & Persephone: Spring Held Hostage
  5. Hercules: The Twelve Labors
  6. Isis & Osiris: To the Ends of the Earth
  7. Jason: Quest for the Golden Fleece
  8. King Arthur: Excalibur Unsheathed
  9. Odysseus: Escaping Poseidon’s Curse
  10. Robin Hood: Outlaw of Sherwood Forest
  11. Sinbad: Sailing into Peril
  12. Theseus: Battling the Minotaur
  13. Thor & Loki: In the Land of Giants
  14. The Trojan Horse: The Fall of Troy
  15. Yu the Great: Conquering the Flood (reviewed by TGC)

Highly Recommended
I think this particular version of BEOWULF is the best choice for an elementary classroom. Depending on the school and the community, it may be the best choice for middle school as well. The story is accurate to the original text and is still very accessible to students and appropriate for the classroom.


You nonfiction lovers out there will be thrilled to see what has come into the classroom this week. Everything poured in: biography, history, science, minority culture, and pop culture. Interestingly enough along with these nonfiction books came two DVDs which coincide with two titles. They are so impressive that I have contacted Capstone Press about the intereactive CDs and have set up an interview. By the first week of January, expect a great story on how you can bring graphic novels and technology into your classroom in an exciting and engaging way.

If that was not enough, guess what else hit the shelves this week? Only a graphic anthology adaptation of my all time favorite writer, Mark Twain. I’m giddy with anticipation.

In other news, this is the last week for the Beowulf adaptations. This one is for elementary students. Next week we will explore some less heavy literature. Here’s the list of books for this week:

Graphic Classics: Mark Twain

Adventures in Sound with Max Axiom Super Scientist (Interactive CD)
The Explosive World of Volcanoes with Max Axiom Super Scientist
The Shocking World of Electricity with Max Axiom (Comic & CD)
Understanding Global Warming with Max Axiom Super Scientist

John F. Kennedy: American Visionary
Muhammad Ali: American Champion

1918 Flu Pandemic
The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire

Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion
The Z-Boys and Skateboarding

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BEOWULF (Petrucha Version)

Stefen Petrucha
ILLUSTRATOR: Kody Chamberlain
COLORS: Scott A. Keating
LETTERER: Kel Nuttall
PUBLISHER: Harper Trophy
GENRE: Traditional Literature
FORMAT: Trade Paperback
PAGES: 96 pages
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 0-06-134390-0
ISBN-13: 978-0-06-134390-2

This, the first epic poem ever written in English, tells the tale of the great warrior Beowulf, kinsman to King Hygelac, and his magnificent ascent to glory and eventual descent into honorable death. Beowulf sails across the sea to save King Hrothgar and his people from the terrible beast Grendel. Grendel, as all evil beasts were, is a descendent of the biblical character, Cain. He suffers at the sound of the men rejoicing in the King’s mead hall, giving thanks to God. Filled with hatred, Grendel ascends upon the great hall every evening to destroy any humans that dwell there.

Hearing of King Hrothgar’s horror, Beowulf and his men sail across the sea to rid the King of his thorn. Beowulf greets Grendel in the great hall sans his sword and shield prepared for glory and death. Beowulf does not attack. Rather, he holds fast and wears the beast down eventually snapping his arm off at the shoulder. Grendel retreated to his mother’s lair to die and Beowulf hung the arm on the hall entrance as a reminder of the deed done.

Word spread of Beowulf’s deeds and many rejoiced. King Hrothgar showered the warrior with gifts, but Grendel’s mother sought revenge and entered the hall and spilled more blood. So Beowulf followed Grendel to his mother’s lair beneath the waters of the moor, seeking death and glory. He nearly drowned in the dead pool, had it not been for Grendel’s mother. She saved him from the creatures of the deep so she could kill him herself. In her den Beowulf found a sword of the giants – one which no other mortal human would be able to wield – and with it he destroyed the mother. He took Grendel’s head and the hilt of the giant sword back as gifts to the King.

Because of his deeds, Beowulf is rewarded, and ruled his own land for many years until a great red dragon appeared. When a slave steals a golden cup from a dragon’s hoard, the beast takes retribution against the people burning everything in his path. So Beowulf, in his twilight years, donned his sword and shield to do battle once more. His warriors, in fear, ran from the red dragon, save one, Wiglaf, who stood with Beowulf. Together they destroyed the reptile, but in the process Beowulf was fatally wounded. Beowulf gave his weapons to Wiglaf, last of his kin then died. Beowulf was then honored in a burial pyre. After his death hard times fell on the Geats.

Petrucha’s adaptation is a modern retelling of this ancient, oral tale. The story is not poetic in nature, but it is no less engaging. In fact, this translation offers a lot in the way of important and interesting details. In this version we learn that Grendel is from a race descended from Cain, and therefore his is an accursed race.

“A creature nearby heard the rejoicing, the hard music, the word-songs proclaiming how rightly God had created the heavens and the Earth. Day after day, he suffered from the sound. For he was shunned by God, like his ancestor Cain who was banished for the murder of his brother and was left with only beasts for companions. From Cain all wicked offspring were born: giants, and elves, demons and monsters. And through them, GRENDEL.”

This book is written in modern English, which makes this story very accessible to readers, especially young readers, thus requiring less adult intervention. The art is also very modern in that it is created with hard, square lines and a significant amount of contrast. There is also a good balance of text and images. It took me a while to realize what is different about this comic as opposed to other comic works. Finally I realized that Petrucha never uses any onomatopoeia (bamb, pow, boom). The use of such terms is not problematic; in fact, it could be that not using these terms gives the graphic novel a certain seriousness that may not be possible when onomatopoetic sound effects are utilized. The decision to leave them out worked well for this particular title.

My Rating: Ages 10 and older
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 8-12

The vocabulary of this book is easier than other translations because of the modern English, but the blood factor is about the same. Ripping an arm off is ripping an arm off; no matter how you slice it, there will be blood. When recommending to someone younger than 12-years-old, I would use some discretion but not be overly timid. With teens, I would have no reservations at all.

It is the story of Beowulf so there is some fantasy, human-on-monster violence, but no more than is in THE HOBBIT or THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

So much could be done with a piece like this. A high school class could discuss the religious implications of the literature in relation to the time it was created. How did the literature affect later cultures and religious beliefs? Students could also discuss the different translations and the movie adaptation and compare and contrast those pieces. One could also study BEOWULF as a catalyst for the modern English mythology. How has BEOWULF influenced other pieces of literature, namely J.R.R. Tolkien’s world? Younger students could use BEOWULF as a way to help them develop their own mythologies. This is ripe for the “text-to…” discussions that teachers use.

Highly Recommended
BEOWULF is important to study as a piece of classic English literature. It is the first recorded epic poem written in English, albeit Old English. The great thing about this piece is that it is a modern retelling, which allows contemporary youngsters to connect with old literature, ultimately creating an appreciation for and placing a value on traditional literature in the minds of young readers.


Can you believe it? Another adaptation of BEOWULF came into the classroom this week. This one published by Lerner, is aimed at a younger crowd. Because of the movie tie-in it will be reviewed next week, which should conclude my series on Beowulf. I do not know of any other comic adaptations. The TREASURE ISLAND series concluded this month with issue number 6. I have not read any of the issues yet, but I hope they are good and appropriate for the classroom.

An interesting comic (THE CLOCKWORK GIRL) by Arcana Kids publishers also came out this week, selling for only 25 cents. The entire issue is available for free download here. This is listed as an all ages book and proves to be interesting. I received two titles from First Second Books. This publisher has put out some really cool titles so far, two of which can be read here and here.

Here are the titles that came in this week:
  1. Beowulf (Storrie)
  2. The Clockwork Girl #1
  3. Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius
  4. Laika
  5. Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #18
  6. Robot Dreams
  7. Treasure Island #6 (of 6)
  8. Legion of Super-Heroes in 31st Century #8

Friday, November 16, 2007

BEOWULF (Hinds Version)

ADAPTED BY: Gareth Hinds
PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
GENRE: Traditional Literature

FORMAT: Hardcover
EDITION: Candlewick Press Edition
PAGES: 120 pages
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-0-7636-3022-5

This ancient oral story tells the tale of the great warrior Beowulf, kinsman to King Hygelac, and his magnificent ascent to glory and eventual descent into honorable death. In chapter one, Beowulf sails across the sea to save King Hrothgar and his people from the terrible beast Grendel, who ascends upon the King’s great hall every eve to destroy any that dwell there.

Beowulf greets Grendel in the great hall sans his sword and shield – bare-chested – prepared for glory and death. Grendel tears Beowulf’s men apart, their spears and swords crumbling and breaking over his black hide. Beowulf meets beast and bloody battle ensues, ending with Grendel escaping with barely his life and missing a limb.

In chapter two, Beowulf follows Grendel to his mother’s lair beneath the waters of the moor, seeking the heads of both Grendel and his ghastly parent. In that den he picks up a great-sword and he destroys them both and takes Grendel’s head back to King Hrothgar, along with the ancient family sword.

Because of his deeds, Beowulf is rewarded and ruled his own land for many years until a great red dragon appeared. When a slave steals a cup from the dragon’s hoard, the beast takes retribution against the people, burning all in his path. So Beowulf, in his twilight years, dons his sword and shield to do battle once more. His warriors, in fear, run from the red dragon, save one who stands with Beowulf. Together they destroy the reptile, but in the process Beowulf is fatally wounded. After the battle, awaiting death, he takes solace in the fact that his old kinsman and warrior friends have all already passed and that his time, too, has come. Because of his deeds the people of Geatland built unto him a burial tower to honor their fallen hero-King. The dragon’s treasure is buried with him.

BEOWULF, the oldest English epic poem ever recorded, is a powerful story that has served as the basis for many stories, including J.R.R. Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS. Following the three-part story arc, Hinds creates a beautifully illustrated work. This particular edition, in contrast to Hinds’ original self-published book, offers a more modern, but not too modern, accessible translation of the Old English manuscript that will appeal to a wide audience. The language is ornate and well crafted, yet still the message rings true, as is stated when Beowulf enters the hall of King Hrothgar:

“Hail to thee King Hrothgar! I am BEOWULF, kinsman to KING HYGELAC. Many deeds of note have I done in my life, and now the reports of the monster Grendel have brought me to your land. For strangers from over the sea have told us how this fair hall stands empty as soon as evening falls. ‘Twas my comrades who put the thought in my heart, for they had seen my valorous deeds, how I had conquered the foes of my country and brought the race of giants low, and slain monsters both on sea and on land. So now I am come, my lord King, to fight single-handed against this Grendel. More I have heard: that the monster dire, in his wrath, has no regard for weapons. Therefore, I shall carry neither sword nor shield nor coat of mail to this battle. With the grip of my hands only will I confront this enemy; struggling with him, life for life. But who shall live and who shall die, let it be as God shall will.”

Hinds does a magnificent job melding art and word into one comprehensive yet artistic piece of literature. Each chapter in the story is illustrated differently, creating a unique feel for each story arc. The story is bloody, with heads being severed and bodies being impaled and ripped apart. Yet, somehow Hines manages to keep the gruesomeness to a minimum.

The images speak volumes and add much to the written word. In fact, there are significant portions of the story that are told exclusively through illustration. This is especially true in the fight scenes and during the set-up for chapter three when we learn that a slave steals a cup from the dragon, sparking rage and bloodshed on the entire people. This particular episode in chapter three is a bit cumbersome as the reader is required to either have previous knowledge of the story or to then seek out other sources in order to interpret the story.

The lack of certain details is the only thing holding this book back. Readers will undoubtedly be interested in the fact that Grendel is not just a product of an “accursed race” but that he is actually a descendant of the biblical character, Cain, from whom all manner of earthly monster is born, according to this tale. The choice for leaving out the narrative during the introduction of the dragon and for leaving out the reference to Cain was deliberate on the part of Hinds, and while I understand the decision I think it takes away from the story. In the end, these are minor details when considering the whole of the book and the beauty of the storytelling.

My Rating: Ages 10 and older
Publisher’s Rating: No Rating

Rating this graphic novel has left me in something of a quandary. There is quite a discrepancy between the reading level and the interest level, in my opinion. The language is more suitable for a teen, yet the interest level is much lower. In the end, I have opted to rate this title starting at age 10, even though it does have some fantasy, human-on-monster violence. Ultimately, this is a title that should be recommended to children on an individual basis and open to all 12 and older.

This does have some fantasy, human-on-monster violence, including the severing of heads and limbs.

So much could be done with a piece like this. A high school class could discuss the religious implications of the literature in relation to the time it was created. How did the literature affect later cultures and religious beliefs? Students could also discuss the different translations and the movie adaptation and compare and contrast those pieces. One could also study BEOWULF as a catalyst for the modern English mythology. How has BEOWULF influenced other pieces of literature, namely J.R.R. Tolkien’s world? Younger students could use BEOWULF as a way to help them develop their own mythologies.

From the Author’s Note: “The exact date of the composition of BEOWULF is not known. It is an epic poem that was passed down orally from many generations before it was recorded. The first existing manuscript dates to around 1000 AD. The death of Hygelac, Beowulf’s lord, is recorded in 521 AD in the Frankish annals. The most probable date of BEOWULF’s composition, then, is thought to be around 700-850 AD. And yet it still resonates today, and indeed has much in common with our modern superhero stories.”

Hinds originally published BEOWULF as a three-comic series using an older translation by Francis Gummere. Then he collected the issues and republished as a paperback graphic novel. Candlewick Press then took Hinds’ book, used a more modern translation by AJ Church, and republished in both paperback and hardcover. Hinds original art remains intact in all editions and all of the editions are available on Hinds’ website.

Highly Recommended
Considering the implications of BEOWULF on modern literature and culture, this is an important piece to study. The graphic novel offers the reader an interesting look into the mythology and makes it accessible to a new group of young people. Hinds’ work is expressive and poetic and worthy for the classroom.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


What a week! I attended the book talk on Jewish graphic novel literature at the university on Wednesday night. We discussed the Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel, MAUS, for an hour and a half; that was not nearly enough time. The book truly was a force to be reckoned with. I’m working on that review as well as the reviews for both BEOWULF adaptations all at the same time. I’m also reading the entire BONE series. There is some great stuff in the pipeline coming your way.

Here are the titles that came in this week:

  1. The Batman Strikes #39
  2. The Man in the Iron Mask #5 (of 6)
  3. The Mice Templar #2
  4. Marvel Encyclopedia: The Incredible Hulk
  5. Remembrance of Things Past: Part 3, Vol. 1
  6. Spider-Man: Legend of the Spider Clan #2-5 (of 5)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Eureka Productions is pleased to announce the publication of the revised second edition of the long-out-of-print GRAPHIC CLASSICS: MARK TWAIN, the eighth volume in the GRAPHIC CLASSICS series of comics adaptations of great literature.

This edition contains 38 pages of new material, including a never-done-before comics presentation of “Tom Sawyer Abroad,” Mark Twain’s little-known sequel to “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” with adaptation by Tom Pomplun and George Sellas. Returning from the first edition are “The Mysterious Stranger” by Rick Geary, “A Dog’s Tale” by Lance Tooks, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog” by Kevin Atkinson, and “The Carnival of Crime in Connecticut” by Antonella Caputo and Nick Miller. Also “Is He Living or Is He Dead?” “A Curious Pleasure Excursion,” and eight women artists interpret Mark Twain’s “Advice to Little Girls.” With a dramatic cover painting by George Sellas.

GRAPHIC CLASSICS: MARK TWAIN is available for schools and libraries from Diamond Distributors, Baker & Taylor, Ingram and other distributors, in bookstores, or direct from the publisher at

“Many of the stories contain some of Twain’s most cynical, acidic works of satire. Even the adaptation of the little-read “Tom Sawyer Abroad,” written from Huck Finn’s simple-but-secretly-sophisticated point of view, contains a number of digs at religion, science, and imperialism. George Sellas’ cartoony style is a nice match for what is also a rip-roaring adventure story... there’s a propulsive quality in both prose and art that leaves the reader breathless as they flip from page to page.”

— Rob Clough, SEQUART

Saturday, November 10, 2007


AUTHOR: Lewis Trondheim
ILLUSTRATOR: Fabrice Parme
PUBLISHER: First Second Books

FORMAT: Trade paperback
PAGES: 124 pages
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 1-59643-094-X
ISBN-13: 978-1-59643-094-5

The First Second website summed this title up well: “Welcome to Portocristo; its clear skies, sandy beaches, bustling streets—and its spoiled rotten, six-year-old king. The little despot is grouchy, whiny, and demanding—everything you'd hate to find in a boy on a throne. But here in Portocristo, anything he says goes, no matter how bizarre or harebrained. Prepare for zaniness as young King Ethelbert transports himself back in time to meet a dinosaur, swaps his country's kids for Ethelbert robots, tests his bodyguard's mettle by putting a price on his own head, and shrinks the world down to his size.”

King Ethelbert is a snotty, spoiled little 6-year-old with a flair for the exciting. As king, he can do whatever he wishes putting the adults at his beck-and-call. Typical of youth, he is self-centered and unconcerned with the feelings of others. His biggest concern is competing for riches with his cousin-king from around the bend.

TINY TYRANT is about more than a spoiled child. We have a dandy little yarn about what life would be like if kids were in charge, really in charge. King Ethelbert gets the grown ups and put them into all kinds of predicaments; kids will eat it up with a spoon, and they will see Ethelbert for what he is – a spoiled rich kid. Still, it is great fun to pretend that they are Ethelbert and bossing all of us around.

The most distinctive aspect of Parme’s art is the fact that he uses frameless (or borderless) panels in his illustrations. Some will enjoy the free flowing movement this technique implores; others may be confused by it. The sequence of panels is virtually the same on ever page making the frames unnecessary. I found the technique refreshing and very pleasing to the eye.

Parme also uses different background colors for each chapter, something that I found worked quite well. Many children and adults will check to see how long a chapter is before reading it. The colors make that very easy to do.

I found the illustrations to be absolutely fantastic: clean, clear, precise, and most importantly, the art added more to the story than was found in the text alone.

My Rating: Ages 8 and older
Publisher’s Rating: All Ages
All Ages Reads: All Ages
Comics in the Classroom: Ages 8 and older

There is some mild wrestling-style, Looney Tunes violence, but nothing that the majority of parents would object to.

TINY TYRANT lends itself to companion reading. I think adults and kids can sit down together and read about the hysterical antics of Ethelbert and then talk about how he acts naughty. Described as an anti-hero, Ethelbert is our what-not-to-do role model. Kids understand; they get it. They will not have problems with understanding why they cannot act like Ethelbert. I think it would be a great discussion to talk about why his actions are misguided. What would happen if we acted like Ethelbert at school? What’s wrong with acting like him? Why shouldn’t we all act like Ethelbert. I see a journal entry, classroom blog post, class discussion, or essay in the future. Come to think of it, TINY TYRANT may be just the perfect book to read to students within the first week of school, when we teachers are talking about classroom rules and appropriate behaviors.

Highly Recommended
First Second keeps putting out interesting and unique graphic novels for children. Their stories are not the typical superhero fare, expanding the genre and giving readers choices of what to read. I love it and hope they keep it up. TINY TYRANT is great and lends itself to a great discussion on proper ethics and behaviors. It does so without preaching or lecturing to the students. For that very reason, this title gets a “Highly Recommended” from me.


This is the second week in a row that a graphic adaptation of BEOWULF has made its way into the classroom. As you are probably aware, a movie adaptation is also due out next week. Movie versions of literature (traditional or comic) should spark students into a deep compare/contrast discussion in a classroom. So I am working on those reviews, and maybe more, in the coming days.

Because my university is hosting a book talk on Jewish graphic novel literature, I am reading some of the pieces. MAUS came in this week and I finished both books. Look for this review in the near future.

Here are the titles that came in this week:
  1. Beowulf (Stefan Petrucha)
  2. Maus 1 & 2
  3. Spider-Man: Legend of the Spider Clan 1
  4. Usagi Yojimbo 102-105

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Recently, Rachel Hochberg wrote The Graphic Classroom for some advice. With her permission I reprinted her name and original email as some of you may also be of help. Here goes:

I'm a student in the Children's Lit MA program at Simmons College (in Mass), and I'm doing some research for an independent project on the relationship of graphic novels and other graphic works to theater/live performance. My idea was that since plays and graphic novels are both mostly dialogue or narration by a specific voice, that there should besome relationship between the two.

Apparently it's kind of a stretch; I haven't been able to find any actual graphic works that are about theater, though I have found some about other kinds of live performance, nor have I found any graphic adaptations of theater (as opposed to the multitudes of graphic adaptations of movies). I've been reading (and enjoying!) your blog for a while now, and as I get further into my research I plan to sift through your recommendations there to see if anything fits what I'm looking for, but I wondered if you know off the top of your head of any graphic works that relate to theater or to other kinds of performance.

I'm sure you're swamped with stuff to do, but anything that comes to your mind would be helpful.

Hey Rachel, thank you for the email and the nice comments. There are plenty of graphic adaptations of Shakespeare's works. (I directed her to many of those, which can be obtained from easily enough.) I just did a Google keyword search for "Romeo and Juliet comics and found several. I'm sure there are other adaptations by other writers. I am not familiar enough with plays to be able to search for them.

If you can help Rachel, then leave comments or email me ( and I will forward them to her.

Also, please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions. You can always leave comments or email me privately.


My university has a book discussion group about Jewish literature in graphic novel format. What a great idea. I can't believe I missed this. Thanks to Anne M. Baker, Archivist at the Missouri State University for alerting The Graphic Classroom. I love it when folks look out for me.

So here's the skinny from the MSU website:

Join us in the Curriculum Resource Center on the second floor of Meyer Library for a five-part reading and discussion series on the theme "Modern Marvels: Jewish Adventures in the Graphic Novel.”

The graphic novel is an exciting new form of storytelling. Here, five Jewish artists experiment with words and pictures to tell stories of childhood, war, and desire; to conjure up lost worlds, both real and imaginary; and to contemplate history, myth, and the individual psyche.

All programs will take place from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings in the Curriculum Resource Center, Meyer Library on the Missouri State University campus.

  • Oct 10, 2007 - A Contract with God
  • Nov 14, 2007 - The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
  • Dec 12, 2007 - Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer
  • Feb 13, 2008 - The Quitter
  • Mar 12, 2008 - The Rabbi’s Cat

For further information, see the flier.

Interested readers are encouraged to register by contacting Cherri Jones at 417 836-4546 or

Ms. Mara Cohen Ioannides, Jewish scholar and Instructor of English at Missouri State University, will serve as discussion leader for the series. Refreshments will be served at each event. Parking passes will be included in each participant’s registration packet.

Let's Talk About It: Jewish Literature — Identity and Imagination, a reading and discussion series, has been made possible by a grant from Nextbook, the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Local support for this program is provided by The Springfield-Greene County Public Library and Springfield Public Schools.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Carol and Matt Dembicki
PUBLISHER: Little Foot Publishing

FORMAT: Paperback
PAGES: 160 pages
COLOR: Black and White
ISBN-10: 0-978-92819-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-9789281-9-3

The organisms of the pond are tired of the snapping turtle, Mr. Big, and his reign at the top of the food chain. It is time something was done. So the fish et al. get together and plot his demise with the help of the crows. When an Asian snakehead fish is introduced into the new ecosystem, the community regrets its decision to have Mr. Big eradicated, but the crows see their chance to dominate and refuse to back out.

MR. BIG is an anthropomorphic fictional story about the complexity of the naturally self-contained ecosystem that is a pond. Neither didactic nor trite, the Dembicki’s take their understanding of science and delicately weave an interesting tale of revenge and death. MR. BIG is more akin to poetry than prose in that it relies on the illustrations to tell the story rather than the beautifully tight text.

Because of the heavy reliance on the illustrations, the story would have been stronger had the artists used color. The illustrations work very well most of the time, but there were a couple of places where the art was confusing and I argue that the use of color would have helped. After all, a pond is full of beauty and the Dembicki’s missed a chance to showcase all of that beauty by eliminating color.

My Rating: All Ages
All Ages Reads:
No Rating
Comics in the Classroom: Elementary/Middle School

This is an all ages read; it is appropriate for any elementary or middle school student who is studying ecosystems.

MR. BIG is science and this book is sure to peak the interest of the students in their quest to learn more about the delicate balance of life. In fact, this title could lead to some deep scientific inquiry for elementary students for several weeks.

My compadre Scott Tingley, over at Comics in the Classroom, has not only reviewed this book before, but he has posted some lesson plans as well. With his permission, I direct you to his lesson plans.

Highly Recommended

Finding science texts that are not heavy-handed is hard to do. This fact makes MR. BIG all the better when looking for exceptional texts for children. This book makes me want to know more about ecosystems. Science came alive with MR. BIG and I am excited to use this in my classroom.


What an assortment of graphic novels this week! There is traditional literature (the oldest poem written in English), a wordless graphic novel, a children’s book series turned graphic novel, a critically acclaimed graphic novel series, a guide on using comics, and more. This week there is so much reading for so many different people, genders, ages and interests.
  1. Beowulf
  2. Bone Vol. 1-6
  3. Breaking Up: A Fashion High Graphic Novel
  4. Goosebumps Vol. 1-3
  5. The Arrival
  6. The Baby Sitter’s Club Vol. 1-3
  7. Teen Titans Go! 48
  8. Queen Bee
  9. Using Graphic Novels with Children & Teens

Thursday, October 25, 2007


AUTHOR: Steve “Ghoulish” Niles
ILLUSTRATOR: Benjamin “Fiendish” Roman
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
GENRE: Comedy, Horror

ISSUE 1: Super Spooktacular Special
ISSUE 2: To Heck and Back
COLOR: Full color

Our mini-monsters (Drac Jr. Wolfy, Sea-boy and Jekyll/Hyde), offspring of the infamous adult creatures, are elementary students trying to make it through life. It can be heck at times what with all the rules of life and their quirky goings-on.

These titles are “for immature readers only!” Says so right on the front cover of issue 2. Such a declaration was enough to make me stop and take a look. Kids read for enjoyment, and as a teacher I cannot forget that fact. Reading is about more than the intake of specific information for the purposes of assessment at a later date. THE CRYPTICS is certainly fun and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the deeper meaning is that students learn to read well.

Vignette styling makes for a quick read. Some stories are a single page while others span the majority of the book. The boys play war with squirt and Nerf guns, only to be reprimanded by Ms. Feratu, Drac’s mother, because she simply loathes firearms, including play guns. She sends the boys to Drac’s dungeon bedroom to play with the maces, flails, electric chair and other miscellaneous mechanisms of death. Monster or not, the boys must still deal with childhood and manage to get out an “awwww, Mom” when things do not go their way. The boys also go to school, take tests, play tricks on one other, and get into all kinds of mischief. In one story, the boys, tired of Jekyll’s academic achievements and constant bragging, sneak some of his potion into his milk. By the time his test comes around, he has transformed into Hyde and all but the basic brain function is gone. He flunks the test.

After the first two issues, the characters are still a bit flat. This is probably due in part to the use of small stories as opposed to one story line per issue. It will take longer for the characters to develop. This is also because the stories focus more on plot than character development. I think it will take some time to see how the characters are flushed out, but I think this title is worth that wait. The boys will develop as time goes on. I really appreciate that the boys act like boys. I think kids will respond to that too.

The fanciful and almost whimsical nature of the illustrations is enticing. Neither too scary nor too cute, the characters all have the feel of typical human boys. The fact that they are the undead, part animal, or some form of monstrous creature is almost incidental, as far as the art is concerned. The illustrations are brilliant in that regard. The following examples are from issue 1.

My Rating: Ages 8 and older
Publisher’s Rating: All ages
All Ages Reads: No rating
Comics in the Classroom: No rating

In issue 1 there are some choice words that may not fly with some teachers. They kids say “sucks” and one says that he is going to be “shaggin’ ass out of here” when on an adventure. There is also an exchange dealing with sex. Considering the Judy Blume brouhaha of years past, I’ll offer up the exchange and let you decide.

Wolfy: But I’ll say it again. It’s the scariest thing you’ll ever see.
Drac: Scarier than your parents make-out video?
Wolfy: That wasn’t them.
Drac: Sure, it was another Frankenstein bride and a werewolf getting it on.
Jekyll: You guys are so immature. Sexual intercourse is a perfectly natural …
Everyone: SHUT UP!

It is common for boys to talk about sex. They will tease one another about their parents having sex and will even make comments about one’s mother being attractive. However one might feel about such things, it is a common discussion in male circles.

I have no warnings for issue 2. There are no objectionable words or subjects.

A teacher can do good text-to… discussions with any books, but THE CRYPTICS seem especially good for text-to-self analysis. The characters are varied enough that students will be able to talk about which character they relate to the most. I stated earlier that the character development is a bit flat. That is true, but not so much so that children cannot begin to relate to them. As the title grows, so will the students’ understanding; they may even realign themselves with another character later on.

This is not a monthly title, but rather more haphazardly published. If you like it, then signing up for it at your local comic shop will ensure you get a copy when the next issue comes out if there is another issue.

ISSUE 1: Recommended with Reservations

Because the creators choose to use vignettes, the reader is not restricted to having to read every issue in order to keep up with the story. This is quite handy for a classroom. If one issue seems inappropriate, the teacher can simply not make that issue available to the students.

THE CRYPTICS offer good stories for kids. Monsters are interesting and kids need to explore typical childhood dialogue and mischief. Kids are pushed to be mature and self-governing, but it can be nice to read something as pure escapism and … entertainment. I will have copies of issue 2 available in my classroom and I am still debating about issue 1. I could also use an ELMO to read hand picked stories from issue 1. There’s good stuff for kids in THE CRYPTICS.