Sunday, February 3, 2008


AUTHOR: Jason M. Burns
COLORS: Ramon Espinoza
PUBLISHER: Viper Comics
GENRE: Superhero, horror, sci-fi

FORMAT: Trade paperback
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-10: 0-9793680-5-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-9793680-5-9

Four high school friends run their own newspaper, investigating the eerie things occurring in Sleepy Hollow. Ghosts, monsters and aliens are all around and these kids are determined to get to the bottom of it. At least one town official is dead-set against the kids exposing the town’s secrets and he will go to any length to stop them.

Suzanne and Thomas Watson, 15-year-old twins with a puzzle-piece shaped birthmark on their faces started the newspaper. They recruited sophomore, Grant Stewart, to be the photographer and Mathias Newcomb, the only one in middle school, as the art director. Each student has his or her own issues. The Watsons have family issues, while Grant has prosthetic arms and Mathias is overweight. What the kids do have in common, although they do not all know it, is that they all have some form of super powers.

A bit edgy, a bit naughty, a little bit irreverent: THE SLEEPY TRUTH has what it takes to draw kids in, while keeping parents and teachers wriggling in uncertainty. There is nothing controversial about THE SLEEPY TRUTH. No nudity, no swearing. Just typical kids who tease and talk the way kids do. Typical of teenage boys, they dare each other. In this case, they are daring one another to tape their newspaper to the gate of a spooky house.

Grant: Don’t be a pansy, man. Grow a pair and do it.
Mathias: If you’re such a tough guy, why don’t you walk up there and tape one to the gate?
Grant: I don’t have to. I have seniority.
Mathias: Take your seniority and stick it up your pie hole, Grant. You’re not talking me into doing it.

Grant also spends a lot of time making fun of Mathias’ weight, which may seem cruel. I don’t think it is intended to. The boys care for one another. Mathias, being a year younger, is earning his keep to hang with an older boy. I don’t think it is meant to be mean, but rather endearing between two kids who have physical conditions.

These are strong kids. They are artistic, outspoken and determined to write about the strange goings-on in their town, despite the fact that a town official is trying to silence, control and eventually kill them.

The story moves along very quickly, a little too quickly for my personal taste. I would have liked to see a bit more character development before the twins come to understand the truth about the monster in their lives. Regardless of the pace, so many of today’s kids struggle with absentee parents and this story broaches the subject full on. I hope to see that storyline flushed out in further installments.

From cover to cover, this book is highly stylized and very unique. The characters have a distinct quality about them. It is unlike anything I have ever seen and I appreciate the artistic style used. It is refreshing, although I would have preferred always seeing a mouth, lest the characters appear drawn upside down. It is a minor point. Every aspect of the art is considered and I really enjoy it. I especially love the fact that the front cover looks like the front page of a tabloid. Very clever.

Page 14

Page 18

My Rating: Ages 10 and older
Publisher’s Rating: Not rated
Comics in the Classroom: Ages 10 and older

The students are strong and deal with their troubles. They do not do anything, say anything or think anything that typical kids, even those in upper elementary, do not say, think or do. These are good characters and the book will be interesting to students, especially if they think it is controversial.

THE SLEEPY TRUTH is a bit edgy and it may invoke a kind of nervousness similar to the concerns raised with books like CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. I am unconcerned.

A student-run newspaper, dead-beat Dads, ghost stories, First Amendment rights, and disability: all of these subjects are issues in the first volume of this book. That is a lot to digest, but somehow it is all worked in naturally, giving the teacher oodles of opportunities to use this book across the curriculum and to promote high ethics and standards. If kids think they are reading something that could get them into trouble, even when it is just fine, then they will be attracted to it. I suggest using that knowledge to your advantage to draw in those especially hard-to-reach students.

THE SLEEPY TRUTH also lends itself to the creation of a classroom or school newspaper. A teacher could also use the newspaper format as a way for students to demonstrate their knowledge of any particular subject.

THE SLEEPY TRUTH is a tad irreverent, chocked full of hard-hitting issues, and fun all at the same time.


Lenny said...

Hey I added you to my blog. I gotta say this is a great blog who did the artwork? The guy looks familiar to a guy I used to work with at SRC. Hmmm....

Unknown said...

the art work is amazing, I really am impresed. great talent!!!!

thinkingthings said...

Got you added to thinkingthings. As an educator as well as do-gooder mental health type, I am psyched (no pun intended) that you are promoting this wonderful way of encouraging literacy, language and creativity for all types of learners. Way to go, Jack. Are there graphic novels/graphic books, etc. available for the Pre-K learners?