Monday, September 29, 2008


More live-action movie adaptations of comic literature is headed to the screen. Marvel has several big boys sitting in the pipeline.

Iron Man 2 
Release date: May 7, 2010

Release date: July 16, 2010
According to Variety, legendary British actor, Kenneth Branagh, is directing the god of thunder.

The First Avenger: Captain America
Release date: May 6, 2011

The Avengers
Release date: July 15, 2011

Iron Man 3
No release date

What does this mean to you, the classroom teacher or school librarian? It means that you will have a captive audience, eager and waiting to read the comic literature about these marvelous heroes. Incidentally, Marvel has a line of all-ages comics called Marvel Adventures. They include Marvel Adventures Avengers, Marvel Adventures Spider-man, Marvel Adventures Hulk, Marvel Adventures Iron Man, Marvel Adventures Superheroes. Of course, there are other titles of these characters aimed at older readers.

Thanks to News-a-Rama and Variety for the info.

Friday, September 26, 2008

WARRIORS: Volumes 1-3

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

By Chris Wilson

: Erin Hunter
ADAPTED BY: Dan Jolley
LETTERING: Mike Estacio and Lucas Rivera
PUBLISHER: TokyoPop & HarperCollins
GENRE: Manga, Animal Fantasy, Traditional Literature in Comic Format

FORMAT: Softcover
PAGES: 112 each
COLOR: Black and white
ISBN (Vol. 1): 978-0-06-124020-1
ISBN (Vol. 2): 978-0-06-125231-0
ISBN (Vol. 3): 978-0-06-125233-4

From the website:

Volume 1
When the Twolegs (humans) destroy the warrior Clans' forest home, Graystripe — second in command of ThunderClan — is captured trying to help his comrades escape! Trapped in the pampered life of a kittypet, Graystripe has all the food and shelter he needs from his affectionate Twoleg family, but this is not the way he wants to live. The forest is calling him, and he never stops longing to go home. When he makes friends with a feisty kittypet named Millie, she encourages him to go in search of his lost friends. But will Graystripe ever find his way back to the Clan?

Volume 2
Graystripe and Millie's journey to find ThunderClan has only just begun when the pair is faced with a series of obstacles that seem insurmountable. Getting out of Twoleg place alive isn't nearly as simple as expected, and Millie's unfamiliarity with life in the wild makes it a challenge for Graystripe to keep them both moving forward. But just when a temporary refuge is in sight, conflict with a tribe of barn cats threatens to break the travelers apart for good!

Volume 3

Graystripe and Millie have finally found ThunderClan's old territory, but Twoleg monsters have devastated the forest and Graystripe fears that all of his Clanmates have been killed or captured by Twolegs. Millie insists that they keep looking, and an old friend helps point the two cats on the path that the Clans followed many moons ago. But danger still lurks around every turn, and Graystripe worries that he and Millie are lost on an impossible journey.

There are those who follow the code of the warrior, living off the land, free from human influence. Then there are those who find solace in being a twoleg’s pet, eating pellet food and living in fat comfort. The two worlds collide after Greystripe’s land is destroyed by the humans and their machines, after which he is katnapped and made into a kittypet.

Greystripe’s journey begins when he decides to escape his human captors, return home, and find his clan. To do so, he must accept the help of a kittypet, Millie, who elects to set off on an adventure and live her life in the wild with her new friend.

The first three volumes in the graphic adaptation of the WARRIOR novel series by Erin Hunter is an exciting manga story arc full of fast-paced kitty cat action. Warring cat cultures and human interaction create tension in the cat populations — wild and pet — and set the stage for love and adventure between two unlikely felines.

Those different kitty cultures come in handy as the two move across the city and country landscape, encountering humans, cars, equipment, cats and dogs, in search of Greystripe’s homeland and people.

WARRIORS is a good read, quick and action packed — just what kids love. It’s perfect for the classroom.

The manga art is nicely done: clean, clear, and easy to read. The emotions of the kitties are expressive.

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

This is a solid read for kids and will be interesting to kids of varying reading levels.

If storytelling is the big concept to teach, then there is plenty in the WARRIORS for one to sink his teeth into. If culture and society is the goal — the political and cultural rules that direct our behaviors — then the WARRIORS can also be a great place to talk about such issues in a less controversial mode. Using allegory and metaphor, the differences in people and culture that we encounter can be explored using cat culture.

As WARRIORS is a series of traditional novels, I think an interesting study could be done comparing and contrasting the novels with the graphic novels.

Volume 4, WARRIORS: THE RISE OF SCOURGE is now available. Click here for the WARRIORS official website.

WARRIORS is a great read for kids who love action and animals.


By Chris Wilson

A little holiday spookiness is headed your way this October. A fan of cool weather, pumpkins, monsters, costumes and haunted corn maizes, I enjoy celebrating Halloween. Maybe that explains why my family and I put up a Halloween tree every year. We are weird like that I guess.

Kids like monsters, mummies, vampires, skeletons, pirates, and all things scary. Ask any school librarian and they will tell you that the scary books go like hot cakes. So it seems fitting to indulge that scary side of our interests and present to you a month of monsters, 30 days of suspense, four weeks of hobgoblinry.

So enjoy our reviews this month of Halloween-inspired comic literature. It’s not all monsters, by the way, but just good old fashioned literature that might make you and your students squirm. The fun begins next week.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


By Chris Wilson

My daughter is so taken with Tiny Titans and Super Friends, that I finally signed her up for her own copies. She now has her own comic storage box and her own monthly subscription, which is what came in this week. She loves reading her comics, but she doesn’t have any superhero titles that are all girl. Until …

This month’s advertisement in Previews. It is a DC title which we are both very excited about and which will be automatically added to my 8-year-old’s monthly subscription:

The comic industry is always in need of more female-oriented comic books. When I originally got into comics, it was this exact product that I was searching for. I needed comics that I could read with my daughter, something that would entice her into my geeky world and yet something she could relate to as a girl and young woman. She needed a super that she could really relate to and look up to. She needed her own girl-power superhero.

We elementary teachers are especially on the lookout for such fare, as we want strong characters and stories that are appropriate for our female students. Team books are great and the independent stories are also important, but so is the female superhero book for young girls.

Here is the write up for the new girl of steel from the DC website:

Meet Linda Lee! She’s the newest kid on the block – and the planet, too! Find out how an ordinary girl from Krypton became the most extraordinary girl on Earth in the pages of this brand new monthly series. And if you think life is tough as a hero, try being in the eighth grade.

My friend, Tracy, interviewed Supergirl scribe, Landry Walker. You can click here for that article. The first issue is set to debut December 3, 2008 in 32 full color pages and at a price of $2.50. It is part of Johnny DC, which is DC's imprint for kids.

Now, to the list of this week’s comics:
  1. I Kill Giants #3 (of 7)
  2. Kingdome Come
  3. Mad Kids #11
  4. Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #40
  5. Marvel Adventures Superheroes #3
  6. Super Friends #1 - #4
  7. Tiny Titans #1 - #5
  8. Usagi Yojimbo #114

Monday, September 22, 2008


by Chris Wilson

The Graphic Classroom's own Kevin Hodgson was recently featured at Newspaper in Education, a blog by, for his own comic strip about the digital divide called Boolean Squared.

"I wanted 'Boolean Squared' to be about something I care about and am amused by – kids, teachers and technology," Hodgson said.

Kids, teachers and technology are key components in the 21st Century classroom. While that statement may sound like a "duh" to most, some classrooms only embrace one or two of those components. I know I share Kevin's interest in all three of those aspects.

A new strip of Boolean Squared is posted every Monday here.

Congrats, Kevin.


By Kevin Hodgson
Staff Writer

Perhaps Google gets it. Perhaps Google understands comics as a form of sequential art that can translate complex ideas through the combination of graphics and text. Why else would they tap Scott McCloud to create an intriguing new comic that explains the reasons behind the new Google web browser called Google Chrome?

And why else would McCloud – who is a legend in the world of comics for such tomes as UNDERSTANDING COMICS and RE-INVENTING COMICS – agree to take on such a task if he, too, didn't understand that the translation of the rationale behind another new web browser would reach an extended segment of audience if it were put into the form of a comic.

You can view the comic that McCloud created (with the words of the Google engineers) here:

The comic provides an explanation of what went on behind the scenes as developers were imagining and creating a new web browser. By using the sequential art, McCloud shows as well as tells the thinking of the engineers, from the initial ideas of Chrome to the way Google is using an Open Source platform to improve its web browser.

I am not advocating the download of Chrome here (heck, I haven't even gotten that far) but I do think the use of the comic here is powerful and in the classroom, this comic might be an interesting way to introduce some of the thinking at a company like Google that has teams of engineers developing new products all the time. And in this case, they thought about the weaknesses of traditional browsers and came up with possible ideas to improve an idea (while continuing to secure its dominance on searching the Internet via Google).

A marketing class, in particular, might have a field day with the question: why a comic?

Sunday, September 21, 2008


By Chris Wilson

I know I mentioned giving out comics rather than candy for Halloween, but that was back in June and it’s likely you’ve forgotten. But Halloween is almost here and my Halloween mini-comics have come in. More than likely, there is still time for you to order some from your local comic shop, but you might want to hurry just in case.

Twenty-five mini-comics for $3 is a good deal and there are several titles to choose from. I ordered 175 comics so I have plenty to give out to kids in the classroom and to the neighborhood kids too. And anyone who spends any time in the classroom knows that horror stories are quite popular with the youngsters. Most elementary librarians can attest to the high check-out rates of scary stories.


By Chris Wilson

Perusing that tube known as the Internets, I stumbled onto a book review (Dragon Prince) of a title that I had seen solicited in Previews. It was an advertisement that offered little in the way of substance on what the book would be about, but I ordered it just on the off chance. I dig dragons and fantasy and all of that stuff anyway.

When I read the story, I got excited that this story might be exactly what a lot of male (kids and teens) need in the way of action-adventure storytelling. So I direct you to the review at

And now the list of comic literature that made its way into the classroom this week:
  1. Batgirl #3 (of 6)
  2. Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam #2
  3. Dragon Prince #1
  4. The Family Dynamic #2 (of 3)
  5. Marvel Adventures Avengers #28
  6. Skrulls vs. Power Pack #3 (of 4)
  7. Tiny Titans #8
  8. War Heroes #2 (of 6)

Thursday, September 18, 2008


By Kevin Hodgson
Staff Writer

Capstone Press deserves a cheer. Utilizing the accessible format of a graphic novel to highlight a diverse group of historical figures, the crew over at Capstone Press have provided students with an accessible inroad into the lives of the people who often battled outside the lines of power in ugly chapters of our history. One of the books in this series of graphic biographies – CESAR CHAVEZ: FIGHTING FOR FARMWORKERS – is a perfect example. The life and times, and battles, of the Chicano union organizer from California showcases the hardships of the Mexican and Latino communities struggling to make ends meet while being underhanded time and time again by the (mostly) white landowners for whom they worked.

CESAR CHAVEZ: FIGHTING FOR FARMWORKERS (written by Eric Braun and illustrated by Harry Roland, Al Milgrom, Steve Erwin and Charles Barnett III) brings us into Chavez's life from his upbringing as a child in a family of migrant workers; to the influence of Ghandi's peaceful protest that Chavez brought to the grape and produce fields of California; to the strike he underwent to bring unity to migrant workers and publicize the use of pesticides in the field; to the impact that the United Farm Workers union had on the country. Most of all, Chavez understood that violence would backfire against the larger movement for better pay and living conditions, and he urged peaceful confrontation. An informative glossary in the back of the book also reminds in 1994, a year after his death in 1993 (he had been in court testifying against a lettuce grower on the day he died), Chavez was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work by President Bill Clinton. The other graphic novels in this series, including a history of the legendary Buffalo Soldiers, may generate interest in some of the histories of people who might be not be found inside class history books.

The story is more powerful than the artwork in these books, although that it not to say the graphics are not effective. Drawn in a very basic style that complements the text, the illustrations in CESAR CHAVEZ: FIGHTING FOR FARMWORKERS captures the emotions of the book's hero but much of the art lacks real detail. The faces seem a bit too cartoony for such a serious story, which is sort of strange, given the number of illustrators who were working on the novel. Still, the book works well as a graphic novel and the art moves the story along from major event to major event in a meaningful way.

In my opinion, this entire series merits a place in every classroom, even if it as an addendum to the regular curriculum. Certainly, CESAR CHAVEZ: FIGHTING FOR FARMWORKERS should raise the interest levels and knowledge of young readers and get them asking questions such as: What is a labor union and why is one needed? Why were Chicanos treated so poorly in the fields? What is a migrant worker? And, considering the recent political deliberations about immigration, how does the message of Cesar Chavez translate to the world today? All of these topics (and one more: the power of peaceful protest) would spark a discourse in any classroom, I would bet.

FORMAT: Paperback
COLOR: Full color
ISBN: 978-0-7368-9668-9
PUBLISHER: Capstone Press

This title is also available in an audio format.

I would highly recommend CESAR CHAVEZ: FIGHTING FOR FARMWORKERS for elementary and middle school students. The writing and artwork is a bit too simplistic for high school readers but could still be another resource for the classroom.


By Chris Wilson

A primary goal of our elementary Social Studies curriculum is to instill in children an understanding of what a democracy means to them and to the success of our country. It can be a struggle because to many children the Constitution, the branches of government, and voting are disconnected from their everyday lives. Many students don’t get it and don’t care to get it.

Personally, I don’t think that is anything new, considering the apathy of many citizens and the percentages of non-voters. Although I must say, this presidential election has electrified more people across the spectrum than any in a long time.

Capstone Press has developed a series of comicesque titles surrounding the many issues of government and democracy. I say comicsque as the titles are not entirely a picture book and not entirely a comic, but a hybrid of the two. No wonder they are called Cartoon Nation as that is, perhaps, the best term to describe them. The books do not make use of traditional panels, but does have narration and dialogue bubbles as well as multiple illustrations per page. The creators had fun with this, inserting humor into what is a boring subject to many.

Of the four titles I obtained, I read THE U.S. CONSTITUTION and THE U.S. SUPREME COURT. Both do a great job outlining the necessary information, historical context, and conflicts without bogging down the younger mind in a political quagmire.

Perfect for the classroom, these titles help bring alive these important aspects of life. Couple with a passionate teacher who has a flair for the creative, kids will not only learn about government, but come away with an emotional connection to America.

This year is the optimum time to hold a classroom mock election, comparing those results with the state and national data from the November presidential election. Because of the impact the next president will have on the Supreme Court, that title is particularly beneficial to the elementary classroom. Never is constructivism – self-guided inquiry – so important as with a subject that is so lackluster and insipid to children. A webquest or other constuctivist project would be dynamic. Perhaps children could run for a classroom office and develop writing, debate and marketing skills. Students could develop posters, print and video commercials, and participate in a debate, complete with student-media. And blogs … a classroom blog could also be a job in the classroom, for which one must apply and demonstrate excellent writing and analytical skills. It is a cross-curriculum unit just waiting to be unleashed.

So much could be done during this election cycle to engage the students in a real democracy, rather than just studying about it. I think these titles could be part of the foundation from which students gain the knowledge they need to participate in the larger project.

PUBLISHER: Capstone Press
GENRE: Government and Democracy

Chris’ Rating: Ages 8 and older
Publisher’s Reading Level: Grades 3-4
Publisher’s Interest Level: Grades 3-9


AUTHOR: Christine Peterson
CONSULTANT: Philip Bigler, James Madison University FORMAT: Hard cover
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-1-4296-1984-4
DEWEY: 342.7302/9

AUTHOR: Danny Fingeroth
ILLUSTRATOR: Cynthia Martin
CONSULTANT: Michael Baily, Georgetown University
FORMAT: Hard cover
COLOR: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-1-4296-1985-1
DEWEY: 347.73/12

Democracy is the one thing that all Americans, no matter how diverse or different, have in common. That commonality, that powerful force of freedom, should be a foundation in the classroom. This entire series can be a part of helping young people remember what it means to be a free person, a participant in government, an American.

Friday, September 12, 2008


By Chris Wilson

This week The Graphic Classroom presents to you two reviews –graphic adaptations of the legendary bard himself, William Shakespeare. The adaptations are from different creators and publishing houses, but both are worthy of your attention.

With that I say quite loudly: INCOMING!


By Michael Schofield
Staff Writer

PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
GENRE: Adapted Literary Classic/Social Comedy
FORMAT: Softcover
COLOR: Bluish Monochrome
ISBN-10: 076363025X
ISBN-13: 978-0763630256

You ought to know, methinks. But lo!:
Here is the tale of young Bassanio, who, to win the love of fair Portia, entangles his dearest friend, Antonio, in a dangerous bargain with the moneylender Shylock. Only Bassanio’s heartfelt efforts — and a clever intervention by Portia — will save Antonio from paying Shylock “a pound of flesh.

Shakespeare has weathered countless adaptations into prose, comics, new-theater, and films – and most of the time with mixed reviews. Generally, these efforts come of rash underlining and focus on just one of a multi-thematic reading, and consequently forget that —let’s say — the boy Hamlet’s rage conveniently dissects the royal-line from Denmark, or that Fortinbras had crossed the border with an army. While a little less popular, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE has been hammered into film history (at least six by my count!) and multiple retellings (like Arnold Wesker’s play THE MERCHANT), and — like here — into its second graphic novel.

Part of my collection-development plan here in Bradford is to punctuate a wicked-awesome graphic novel section with classic adaptations; while I don’t foster any illusions about making unaware youngins fans of The Bard, I do think it’s important to make available certain canonized works in fresher mediums – if available. I did the same with Beowulf, as it — like Shakespeare — is almost always force-fed through a dated edition to sophomores who couldn’t give a damn. Archaic language does of a student an enemy make, anon. I am, however, skeptical of adaptations, but because I had already just a solid experience with Gareth Hinds, I jumped on THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.

I wasn’t disappointed. Highly stylized, Venice is re-imagined as an archipelago the shape of cannibalized trout and an eel, modernized, which reestablishes the otherworldliness of much Shakespeare, now almost 500 years removed, wherein readers are forced to accept that the worldview of the characters is not our own. Okay, so that’s probably reading a little too much into it, but not by much.

In the art is an element of a Greco-, 1930’s-Mob-fantasy, which — really — is pretty eye-appealing. Also, it successfully communicates a world not so removed, but one wherein it’s common place to have skulls in treasure-chests and to pay debts in flesh. Whereas Gareth Hinds’s BEOWULF is wonderfully detailed and painted, MERCHANT is sort of a preliminary sketch. The detail is on par and it is drawn in blues and whites, wisps of ink hover on the structures and scalps to illustrate a sometimes sparse, raw city. The effect is almost like a film noir, appropriate for trench coats and fedoras, the suspenders and the grays of morality … oy, too heavy? Click here, here and here for sample pages. In his afterword, Hinds immediately makes clear what his interests in Merchant are:

The MERCHANT OF VENICE is a controversial play. Was Shakespeare racist, or is the play a commentary on racism? Is it anti-Semitic or anti-Christian? What are we to make of the overtones of homosexuality?

Coupling facial expressions and generally modernized dialogue makes Bassanio’s anti-Semitism (or Jessica’s betrayal or Shylock’s rage) all the more poignant and the comedy — while sometimes super funny ha-ha — is almost disturbingly out of place like cracking open a beer at a funeral. Hinds’ ability to visually contrast snickering and pain within a single panel emphasizes the social questions MERCHANT raises. Its focus is a juvenile romance where inequality and reciprocal vengeance take center stage.

But, um, the language is sometimes a little goofy. That was my main complaint about Hinds’ adaptation of BEOWULF, in which the dialogue was a stilted copy of a dated translation of the poem. Some Thous and Thees intermingling modern prose made the archaisms extra bizarre. MERCHANT is thankfully a little better about that, but the tendency for Hinds to drudge-up a “Thou Art” makes for necessary twitches. Since many of Shakespeare’s monologues from this play are highly memorable, the biggies are written in full, iambs and everything.

You may perceive a gradual shift through the course of the book from simpler, more modern prose to unedited Shakespearean verse. This is partly a sneaky way to get readers comfortable with the language, but mainly it is because the most famous speeches in this play occur near the end, in the court scene, and I wanted to preserve those in the original verse as much as possible. – Gareth Hinds

The effect is a little weird.

My Rating: High School
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 12 to 17
Of course, the language is never foul, but it does deal seriously with racism and biased law and pranks at others’ expense, and gender inequality, and sexual nods aplenty, and classism and so on ad nauseum. What with potential for multiple reads, Gareth Hinds’ adaptation is an honestly worthwhile supplement to the original work. Dialogue-heavy and not particularly action-packed, this graphic novel functions more on the level of a daytime soap, and it is hard for me to imagine a sincere interest from middle-schoolers or below in Hindspeare.

The Young Adult Library Services Association has nominated THE MERCHANT OF VENICE for the Great Graphic Novel For Teens 2009 award.

Highly Recommended
After BEOWULF, I thought pretty highly of Gareth Hinds; I think higher now. His attention to the original work and his artistry is just top notch. As a serious supplement to the play, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE graphic novel is an example of a high-quality adaptation from classic literature. I recognize that as comics become more acceptable in the classroom, this trend has seriously increased the selection of remakes available nowadays. Some, like — IMHO — THE HOBBIT graphic novel, still have a ways to go.


By Chris Wilson

ORIGINAL AUTHOR: William Shakespeare
COLORS: Nigel Dobbyn
LETTERING: Nigel Dobbyn
PUBLISHER: Classical Comics
GENRE: Traditional Literature in Comic Format

FORMAT: Softcover
EDITIONS: Original Text, Plain Text, and Quick Text
PAGES: 144
COLOR: Full color
ISBN (Original Text): 1-906332-03-7
ISBN (Plain Text): 978-1-906332-04-4
ISBN (Quick Text): 978-1-906332-05-1

Sometimes you have those moments, the ones when you look at a product and wonder why you did not think of it first. Such a moment happened to me when I picked up my first copies of Classical Comics’ MACBETH. This three-volume set was jaw dropping in its ingenuity, approach to comic literature, and classroom utility.

Classical Comics kneaded the word “adaptation” in such a common sense way, I am befuddled that no one thought of it before. Other comic adaptations of classic literature make a choice: Replicate every word and every scene exactly as it was in the original text, or take liberties with the language and the storyline. Classical Comics, on the other hand, takes what should be the obvious choice – all of the above – and creates different versions of the story to suit both traditional purists and modern audiences. The result is a brilliant product in three volumes, perfect to suit the needs of many, while still maintaining the authenticity of the original text. It is brilliant.

MACBETH: Original Text
This volume takes every scene, every word of Shakespeare’s classic play and adapts it into a comic. It is the full, unabridged play with original language intact.

MACBETH: Plain Text
The Plain Text volume uses the same art as the Original Text volume. The entire play is reproduced; however, the language is translated into Plain English,

MACBETH: Quick Text
The third adaptation also uses the same art as the first two. The story is still the same; however, this volume takes the Plain Text language and culls all words that are unnecessary to the essence of the story. What is left is an easy-to-read translation for struggling readers.

The illustrations are also very appealing as they are detailed, colorful, and representative of modern comics. The art does not play to the child, but caters to a wide audience, pulling no punches and showcasing the story conscientiously.

Taken together the triad provides an unprecedented initiation into the world of Shakespeare, one that allows for young and old, strong reader and struggling reader, boy and girl, Shakespearean scholar and neophyte.

My Rating: Ages 10 and older (Quick Text)
My Rating: Ages 12 and older (Plain Text)
My Rating: Ages 15 and older (Original Text)
Publisher’s Rating: Grades 5 and up (Quick Text)

The publisher suggests using the Quick Text version starting with fifth graders and making use of the other editions for older students.

Shakespeare is full of greed, hate, jealously, sex, alcohol, murder and more. His works are about life. Fortunately, Shakespeare is considered “classic” and therefore such issues, which might be troublesome for other comics, may be more acceptable even with younger students.

Shakespeare was meant to be seen, not read. The comic adaptation is the perfect venue for the literature class as it melds the visual aspects of the play with the beauty of the written language, making the story come to life. With the different versions, a teacher is now able to plan for different reading levels of students and find the best edition for each student or class.

A teacher could make use of all three editions in one classroom of diverse readers, each student receiving a comic based on his or her ability level. If that proves problematic or troublesome, then a teacher could assign the Plain Text version for all, but refer back the Quick Text and Original Text daily, comparing and contrasting the different versions and using the modern translations in order to decipher the original.

Other tittles available or in the works include:


Previews of the books are available by clicking here.

Classical Comics is currently developing a comprehensive package of tools and resources for educators. They also offer vignettes from other works for free download.

Highly Recommended
Shakespeare has never been so accessible, so meaningful or approachable to the modern masses as it is in the Classical Comics’ adaptations. The different editions are elegant and beautiful – a true homage to The Bard. These are, simply put, the best comic adaptations of Shakespeare I have ever encountered.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


The folks at Lerner Publishing sent us a stack of myth and fables from across the lands: Greek, African, Aztec, Korean, Swiss, and English. Also from Lerner are two books (Twisted Journeys) that are part comic, part prose, all scary, and all choose-your-own-adventure. We’ve reviewed another such book here. Library reinforced bindings, lexile ratings, and interesting topics make for fun reading for kids and early teens.

That’s not all. We have all kinds of good stuff, fun stuff, cool stuff, bloody stuff, stuff for different ages and maturity levels. Check it all out and enjoy.

Graphic Universe Series:
  1. Arthur & Lancelot: The Fight for Camelot
  2. Marwe: Into the Land of the Dead
  3. Odysseus: Escaping Poseidon’s Curse
  4. Pigling: A Cinderella Story
  5. Psyche & Eros: The Lady and the Monster
  6. The Smoking Mountain: The Story of Popocatepetl & Iztaccihuatl
  7. Theseus: Battling the Minotaur
  8. Twisted Journeys: Alien Incident on Planet J
  9. Twisted Journeys: Vampire Hunt
  10. William Tell: One Against an Empire

Other Books:
  1. Dark Tower: Treachery #1 (of 6)
  2. Igor Movie Adaptation #4
  3. I Kill Giants #2
  4. Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #18
  5. The Lone Ranger #13
  6. Marvel Adventures Hulk #15
  7. Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #43
  8. The Stand: Captain Trips #1 (of 5)
  9. Super Friends #7

Saturday, September 6, 2008

BABYMOUSE: Volumes 1-2

Vol. 1

Vol. 2

By Chris Wilson


AUTHOR: Jennifer L. Holm
PUBLISHER: Random House Children’s Books
GENRE: Animal Fantasy

FORMAT: Soft cover digest
PAGES: 96 pages each
COLOR: Spot color (pink)
ISBN-10 (1): 0-375-83229-7
ISBN-13 (2): 0-375-83230-0

Poor Babymouse, she just can’t catch a break. She is not the most popular little girl mouse in school, but she tries so hard to make friends with the cool kids. She ends up stuffed in lockers. It just doesn’t work out for her. She can’t even comb the kinks out of her whiskers. When she finds out that Felicia Furrypaws is having a sleepover, all she can think about is showing Felicia how cool she is so she will get an invite. Is the party worth it?

In volume 2, Babymouse fights to survive everyday, especially in math. When she gets to gym and finds out that the next day is the dreaded dodge ball day, her life goes downhill. Babymouse is scared, but she has to play and face her fears.

Delightful, sensitive and enchanting, Babymouse is girl power to the pink degree, something written by a lady, for young ladies. Babymouse is the typical girl, the normal girl, the regular girl who struggles with all the drama of adolescence, and it is drama.

BABYMOUSE is charming in its simple line art renderings, enhanced by appropriately placed, pink, spot color.

My Rating: Ages 7 and older
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 7-10
Booklist: Grades 4-6

Girls know drama because they live drama and this book is all about the life – the drama – of girls growing up. They will relate and enjoy and ask for more. Any lessons on choice, responsibility and friendship will be ripe for the BABYMOUSE series.

2006 Gryphon Award
2006 ALA Notable Children’s Book
2006 New York Book Show Award

Highly Recommended
This book is aimed squarely at girls, who need more books that deal with their special lives and their perspectives. BABYMOUSE is a hero in that regard.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Nickelodeon Hosts Best Kids’ Graphic Novels Awards

The title says it all. Nickelodeon Magazine is hosting it’s first graphic novels awards for kids. The point is to honor the best in comic literature for kids ages 7 to 13.

Nominations of great comic literature should be sent to:

Chris Duffy or Dave Roman 

Graphic Novel Award 

Nickelodeon Magazine

1515 Broadway 37th Floor 

New York, NY 10036

Based on those submissions, the Nick editorial staff will choose the list that kids can vote on.

Nominations are due September 30, 2008. The list of nominees will be available in the December mag and online. Then kids can submit their votes. I can see classroom getting involved in the process.

First, the students could compile a list of comic literature, complete with an essay on why that graphic novel is the best. Then those could be submitted to Nick. When the nominations are released in December, the students could then vote and the answers tallied. Then that data could be compared to the final results. Writing, reading, mathematics, and a host of higher order thinking skills, all inside one little contest. Excellent (said in my most devious Mr. Burns voice.)

Thursday, September 4, 2008


By Chris Wilson

Responding to a reader last week, who made a dandy suggestion to us, we were able to get our hands on The Family Dynamic #1 by DC. We’ve added it to the list and will be keeping an eye on it. We hope to do a thorough review after a few issues pile up.

Here is what came in to our classroom this week:
  1. The Batman Strikes #49
  2. The Family Dynamic #1
  3. Igor Movie Adaptation #2-#3
  4. Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #2
  5. Storming Paradise #3

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


By Kevin Hodgson
Staff Writer

Labeled "A Work of Graphic Journalism," this book by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón is a modern perspective of the events that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 that started a domino effect which led the United States military into the War in Iraq and other fronts. (Jacobson and Colón also collaborated a well-received graphic interpretation of the report of the 9/11 Commission that investigated how those terrorist attacks happened and could have been avoided). Overflowing with facts and figures and following a series of strands of the most powerful country in the world seeking revenge and protection against terrorists, AFTER 9/11: AMERICA'S WAR ON TERROR (2001- ) is a fascinating and intriguing companion to the reality that continues to unfold each day in the daily news.

We not only see the actions of President George Bush and his administration as they first work to galvanize public support for overthrowing the Taliban government in Afghanistan that is harboring Osama bin Laden, but we also get a glimpse at the ways in which they presented their case for the invasion of Iraq. Although Jacobson and Colón seem to strive for fairness and balance, it is clear that President Bush gets the short end of the stick here (as do Vice President Richard Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld). But Bush and company are often done in by their own words, as Jacobson and Colón use passages from speeches and interviews for much of the dialogue. Or so it seems.

The major weakness of AFTER 9/11: AMERICA'S WAR ON TERROR (2001- ) is the lack of references for the material, including the various data polls presented to demonstrate the public support for the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. There's nary a citation in sight. (One other complaint: the book would have been well-served to have a timeline handy, as it is hard to track the actual year in which the events are taking place. I, for one, would have liked a little number on the corner of the page to remind me of the year.)

On the other hand, Jacobson and Colón are not afraid to take a narrative detour here and there to explain to the reader the various ethnic make-ups and the historical backgrounds of the regions of the Middle East and these asides are a welcome addition to the story they are telling, providing crucial perspective. And the use of moving several narratives forward together gives the reader a broader tapestry with which to view the many fronts of the campaign to stop terrorism. Thus, we learn about the train bombings in Spain, the anthrax letters in the United States, the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison (and lack of accountability), and the ever-shifting allegiance of Pakistan.

The authors acknowledge that the story continues on and the epilogue briefly moves the reader into June 2008 (when yet another commission determines that the Bush administration misused intelligence information in its push for the invasion of Iraq). To learn more of this particular story, turn to your local newspaper.

Colón, the illustrator, uses a very traditional approach to the artwork in this book. It "feels" like a comic book. (No surprise here: Jacobson was the managing editor of Harvey Comics and an executive editor at Marvel Comics, while Colón worked as an artist at many of the major comic houses, including DC, Marvel and Harvey). The many renditions of prominent politicians are effective, as are the faces of ordinary people and soldiers who are caught up in the events. The artwork successfully brings us into the action, for good or bad, and tells as much of the story as the words. At times, Colón seems to shift from pen drawing to computer-assisted art rendering of photographs, which is slightly jarring. It may have been a stylistic decision, or perhaps the authors had a deadline looming. For example, it seems strange to begin the book with an original comic drawing of President Bush and end it with a photographic image of him. The pages are a bit crowded, too, packed with information that can sometimes cause some confusion with the narrative. More than once, I had to backtrack and make sure I was reading in the correct sequence.

This book could provide a crucial lens into the modern world that has come to be defined not only by terrorist attacks, but also by defense against terrorist attacks. I would not suggest this book be the one and only source of information for the reasons why our country is at war in Iraq and continues with military operations in Afghanistan, but it does provide a unique look at the rationale, reasons and rhetoric behind those military operations and showcases both the failures and the successes of decisions made by political and military leaders.

As noted above, the authors are wise to weave in some history lessons about the people and regions of the Middle East so that readers get a broader sense of the people whose lives have been changed by these events. This might provide a launching point for students to gather more information about the countries of the Middle East and move beyond stereotypes.

The rhetoric of politicians is on full display here, and students would be well-served to examine the choice of words and why this is important on a political stage. I think it would also be fruitful for students to examine the evidence presented by the authors, and do corresponding research to determine the veracity of the information (and provide citations). Or perhaps, students could create their own graphic interpretation of the events from the view of President Bush and think about how that might be different from the story presented by Jacobson and Colón. In this end, this book may provide another way to evaluate the place in history where President Bush belongs.

FORMAT: Paperback
PAGES: 160
PUBLISHER: Hill and Wang
ISBN-10: 0809023709
ISBN-13: 978-0809023707

I highly recommend AFTER 9/11: AMERICA'S WAR ON TERROR (2001-) for upper high school students and beyond, with some reservations. Obviously, this book deals with war and terrorism, and Colón's illustrations often show violence as a backdrop to politics. We see executions of Iraqi police officers and others; violence on the streets; bombing raids; dead bodies; and more startling images throughout this book. These illustrations are not done for shock-value, but more to show the reality of the situation. Still, this book is not for the feint of heart. There is no profanity or inappropriate language, unless you count political rhetoric.