5 Terrifying Things About The World Of Special Agent Oso

special agent osoFor the past six years parents have been half-watching the misadventures of Oso, a yellow bear who works for an organization known as U.N.I.Q.U.E. (The United Network for the Investigation of Quite Usual Events). He helps children figure out basic tasks like brushing their teeth and cleaning their rooms using Three Simple Steps. Kids love how Oso struggles with the same problems as their cartoon counterparts, but upon repeating viewings, it has become clear to me that the world of Special Agent Oso features some incredibly disturbing and potentially disastrous elements. Let’s discuss the five most prominent, shall we? Continue reading

Hey, Kids Comics! – Three Thieves Book One: Tower Of Treasure

three thieves tower of treasure panelI’ve loved comic books since I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to turn that affection into a career. As the parent of two kiddos, I want to have samplings of my hobby I can pass them when and if they show interest. Hey, Kids Comics! will chronicle my experience going through these offerings and not only evaluating my kids’ potential interest but also passing along any potential trouble spots for children and parents. As always, I encourage you to read these books first to see if you think your kid will enjoy them.

three thieves tower of treasureI’ve had my eye on Scott Chantler’s Three Thieves Book One: Tower of Treasure for a while now. It’s on the top shelf of my library’s kid-friendly graphic novel section and I found myself drawn to it thanks to the title (which reminds me of an Indiana Jones installment) and the young heroine on the cover. I like how she’s dodging arrows on her own, but also worried about the situation as a whole.

Opening the book, I was treated to a tight cartooning style that reminds me of older newspaper strip artists but with a precise modern viewpoint. The clean coloring and composition of the book make it a big, bright, fun adventure on the whole even though there are several dark moments for our heroine and her pals to survive.

TowerofTreasureOnline_pg041Speaking of the heroine, her name is Dessa Redd and she’s an acrobat in a traveling circus along with her friends and coworkers Topper and Fisk. She has a mysterious past that involves a kidnapped younger brother that catches up with her during a performance that goes awry. Blamed by the circus folk for ruining their latest meal ticket, she decides to go along with Topper’s plan to rob the nearby treasure tower to make up for her earlier mistake. Given her acrobatic skills, she has relative ease making her way through the traps set up by the mysterious Greyfalcon, but the heist does not go off without a hitch and our heroes have to figure out a way to avoid capital punishment.

I’m personally not a fan of faux-medieval fantasy stories, but this one sticks more to the real world adventure (traps, escapes, treasure) than the mythical which I appreciate. It’s kind of a mix of the aforementioned Indiana Jones vibe and something like Princess Bride. The fantasy motifs allow for more interesting-looking characters like Topper and Fisk, but don’t take away from the reality of the situation which is pretty serious for the titular Three Thieves.

That’s also the biggest red flag of the book for parents. The main characters are threatened with hunger and death at various points and the Queen is an all around awful human being, but I would put this on the same level of your average Disney movie. Actually, while reading this book I kept thinking that it would make an awesome movie. I try not to get too far into that headspace when reading comics, because it’s not the point, but a live action version of this would be AMAZING, especially given the prominence of the young female character. I’d be stoked to take my daughter to see Tower Of Treasure on the big screen.

Anyway, Chantler’s world feels so lived in and interesting that I just want more of it, which is good because I’ve got the second and third books sitting here waiting to be read! If you want to check out more about Three Thieves, head over to the official website where you can actually read pages from the story to see if it’s up your and your kids’ alley.

Hey, Kids Comics! – Mermin Book 1: Out Of The Water

mermin 004

I’ve loved comic books since I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to turn that affection into a career. As the parent of two kiddos, I want to have samplings of my hobby I can pass them when and if they show interest. Hey, Kids Comics! will chronicle my experience going through these offerings and not only evaluating my kids’ potential interest but also passing along any potential trouble spots for children and parents. As always, I encourage you to read these books first to see if you think your kid will enjoy them.

mermin book 1 out of the waterEvery week or so, I head to the library with my daughter. She likes to start the visit by playing the kiddie games on the computers, which works out great for me because it’s right near the kids’ graphic novel section. I’m always looking for new books to check out and Joey Weiser’s Mermin Book One: Out Of Water practically jumped off the shelf at me. Ever since He-Man, I’ve been a big fan of merpeople and The Creature is my favorite of the Universal Monsters, so why not read what looked like a kid-friendly version of that?

This graphic novel from Oni is rated A for everyone according to their internal system and follows the adventures of Mermin, a merperson from Mer who appears on the beach one day and winds up going home with a kid as a thank you for saving his life. That in and of itself sounds like the set-up of a great 80s movie, but there’s also a mystery because Mermin doesn’t want to go anywhere near the water. Hmm, what could that be about?

mermin 013Well, I won’t spoil the mystery, but I thought Weiser strung it out at a nice clip while also putting Mermin and his pals through some of the usual trials and tribulations that come with school and kids not always being open to newcomers. There are plenty of solid lessons to be found in this book about acceptance, understanding, empathy, exploration and friendship without being hamfisted about them.

So let’s get into red flag territory. There is a degree of violence and destruction in this comic. A trio of Mermin’s fellows from Mer show up to bring him home and a battle that threatens his human friends in various ways ensues. While the situation remains serious (both to the story and in tone), it’s kept fairly cartoony. Basically, if you’re kid watches shows like Adventure Time, you’ll probably be okay with them checking out this book.

Speaking of the cartoony artwork, I love Weiser’s style. The figures are simple, but emotive and easy to love. When I had this book from the library my daughter wasn’t interested in reading comics (which has thankfully changed after a trip to the comic shop last weekend but I did show her the cover and a few pages. She seemed instantly drawn to Mermin and his friends. The cartoon-like nature of the characters makes it easy for kids who are used to those kinds of images from TV and storybooks to be drawn into a story even in a different format.

Overall, I give Mermin Book One a big thumbs up and recommend you give it a try. I’m going to see if my four-year-old’s interest in comics continues and will get this one back from the library to see how she likes it. Meanwhile, I’m going to move on to the next two books in the series and see where it goes from here!

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 98

pop poppa nap cast logoGood golly it’s been a long time since I did one of these! The 98th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast features some stuff I recorded back in April and then follows it up with an update from this week! It’s not a complete update, but you’ll get the deets on both kids’ birthday parties, the swingset construction and more!

kite day

Guys, first off, Kite Day was more fun than I expected. Kites are rad, even cheapo ones from the drug store (just don’t get those crazy-long tails tangled up).

crawfishSpeaking of rad, crawfish parties are in that same category. I really miss hanging out with my friends, so these get-togethers are super important to me.

Both the Princess Power Barbie doll and DVD get the Pop Poppa Seal of Approval from this guy!

Charlie-and-Lola_0I talked about the Charlie & Lola cartoons back in PPNC #84, but here’s a look at the artwork I mentioned.

Charlie and Lola art sample

Birthdays! Cakes make kids even cuter. It’s a law of nature.

lu's partyHere‘s the list of tips I came up with for throwing a solid pre-schooler birthday party. It’s pretty much the best thing you’ll read all day.

organized garage

And finally, behold the glory of a more organized garage!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources, Geek.com and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

10 Tips For Throwing A Successful Pre-School Birthday Party

swingsetA few weeks back we celebrated our daughter’s fourth birthday with a lot of her friends from school. I don’t mind saying that it was a huge success and I take basically no responsibility for that. My wife was the mastermind behind the festivities from invitations to decorations and games, but she doesn’t have a blog and I do, so I’m the one who’s going to throw down some advice. Continue reading

Photo Diary: March 2015 Part 3

Still very slowly working my way through these. Here’s the latest batch. More will go up…later.

I don’t usually do this, but here are a few links related to these posts. My action figure review went up on CBR and focused on three of the latest Greg Capullo Batman figures from DC Collectibles.

Here‘s my review of The Giant Mechanical Man which I really enjoyed. I also eventually finished that run on Amazing Spider-Man. It’s one of my favorites and I wrote about it on my pop culture blog.

You can read my Geek.com posts on my author page. That’s been a really fun gig!

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 97

pop poppa nap cast logo

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 97 reflects back on a year of Jack, his many developments in recent weeks and our struggles to get our daughter to sleep in her own bed.

If you want to listen to the episode I recorded after Jack was born a year ago, you can find it here. I also chronicled the events in the Photo Diaries from that month.

sign for moreHere’s me doing the sign for “more.”

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources, Geek.com and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 96

pop poppa nap cast logoThe Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 96 covers my new job writing for Geek.com, my better mood thanks to the weather and how I hope that leads to better times with my kids this summer!

october country basement

If you’re in the Orange County area and like comics, do yourself a favor and check out October Country in New Paltz.

I wrote about fried-egg-coverd BLTs in this post, which you should absolutely check out. Fried eggs also played into Feed Me Phoebe’s excellent Mexican Sweet Potato Hash with Black Beans and Spinach and Smitten Kitchen’s fantastic Spaghetti Pangrattato with Crispy Eggs.

cinci chili dog

Finally, the two StaceyMakesCents posts I mentioned about Cincinnati Chili and magnesium lotion can be found here and here. Also, feast your eyes on this rad-looking dog.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources, Geek.com and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 95

pop poppa nap cast logoIn an effort to make up for no episode last week, I’m posting The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 95 a bit early this week. I’m feeling good lately thanks to the snow melt and a working car, plus I’m looking forward to seeing where Jack’s next year will take us!

If you’re not a fan of weird ancient Greek hell mythology, the guy pushing the boulder I mentioned was Sisyphus and the bird-gut guy was Prometheus.

I posted about Fiddlestix’s St. Paddy’s Day food here, here and here. You can see what I’m talking about above.

It’s not overly clear in the recording, but Lu’s version of “All About That Bass” translates into “All ’bout that face, ’bout that face, ’bout that face, no travel.”

leapfrog violet

Wow, I talked about Violet and Scout WAY back in the very first episode of podcast!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Photo Diary: February 2015 Part 1

Hi Gang, I’m trying something new because I am SO behind in posting Photo Diaries. Instead of doing several per day until I get caught up, here are the first 14 days of the February 2015 — including February 1st, which was already published. Just click on an image, it’ll embiggen and you can actually scroll through from there!

Hey, Kids Comics! – The Clouds Above

the clouds above crane panels

I’ve loved comic books since I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to turn that affection into a career. As the parent of two kiddos, I want to have samplings of my hobby I can pass them when and if they show interest. Hey, Kids Comics! will chronicle my experience going through these offerings and not only evaluating my kids’ potential interest but also passing along any potential trouble spots for children and parents. As always, I encourage you to read these books first to see if you think your kid will enjoy them.

the clouds above by jordan craneJordan Crane is a comic creator whose work I’ve been hearing about from my more indie comic-oriented friends for YEARS, but The Clouds Above is the first of his works I actually sat down to read. Last week while my daughter played on the library computers I did my usual perusal of the kids’ graphic novels and there it was. I wasn’t sure if it was actually appropriate for younger readers (our library system doesn’t seem to really understand what most of these books are), but I knew that I wanted to read it.

I’m happy to say that, The Clouds Above (published by Fantagraphics in 2005) is a great story that can be enjoyed by readers of all (or rather most) ages. The 224 page, 6×6-inch book follows the adventures of a boy named Simon and his talking cat Jack as they discover a secret staircase to the clouds on top of Simon’s school. While ascending, they talk to birds, teach a sentient cloud to fly, fight storm clouds and eventually find their way back to school.

I appreciate that Crane keeps the material light and kid-friendly without shying away too much from emotional scenes. There’s a part of the story where their cloud friend turns himself into rain, but saves Simon and Jack so they don’t smash into the ground. There’s a sad beat there, but then the cloud says he’s happier than he’s every been now that the birds are enjoying the puddles he has become. I thought this was a particularly beautiful scene that probably has a teaching moment buried inside that I’ll figure out upon further reflection.

the clouds above clobber panel jordan craneAs far as red flags go, there is talk of death (“We’re gonna die!”) and a teacher beating Simon with a phone book, but not much is made of it and she’s ultimately made to look a fool which is important because she’s one of the few violent characters in the book. The others are birds, but birds are always jerks, so that stands to reason. Essentially, if your kids like Adventure Time, I think they’ll enjoy this book as both feature a boy and his talking, yellow animal friend going on a somewhat surreal adventure.

The Clouds Above not only works well as an all-ages story, but also offers a nice bridge for younger readers transitioning from storybooks to comics. Thanks to picture books, kids are used to this idea of information being doled out in one-page bites so Crane’s one-panel-per-page style here makes sense for them . I’ve noticed when reading comics with several panels per page to my daughter that it can be a little hard for her to keep up, so I try to point to each panel. Crane eliminates that problem altogether while also keeping a nice pace to the story.

I haven’t been able to get our 3-year-old to actually sit down and read The Clouds Above just yet — it’s like harnessing a tornado most days — but I did sit with our 11-month-old the other day and read it to him. He actually sat through most of it which is pretty huge considering his usual attention span is roughly 11 seconds!

Like I said, I got mine at the library, but you can buy a copy as well through the Amazon link above. You can also download the first 20 pages of this graphic novel from publisher Fantagraphics to see if it’s your bag.

Ultimate Spider-Man Web Slingers Toy Review With Lu

ultimate spider-man web warriorsFor several months last year, I did weekly interviews with some of the people who make the Disney X D Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. It was a really fun experience that resulted in some fantastic interviews over on CBR. Thanks to some scheduling shifts, I’m not doing those at this point, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for this cartoon that started bringing all kinds of alternate universe Spideys into the mix. Of course, this makes for a great deal of fun toy opportunities that license-holder Hasbro has started fully taking advantage of with their Web-Slingers line.

A month or two back, I received a box of toys for review from Hasbro that included the basic Spider-Man figure, Agent Venom Figure with ATV vehicle, Iron Spider Blaster glove and the Trickshot Showdown playset. The overarching action feature for this line is a series of stretchy rubber webs that hook onto parts of the toys and launch into various targets. Even though my nearly-four-year-old tried to get me to open them up for weeks, we didn’t get to it until last week. I figured it would be fun to record the whole thing with my Flip camera and post the results which you can see here. I would have cut the nearly 10 minute video down, but every time I looked to edit, the kid started doing something cute.

Since recording the video, I’ve placed all these toys back in the box they came in (you can see it in the video) and Lu has taken them out to play with about once a day. It’s funny, she kept asking me what every little part was for — the sticker that looks like steps on the playset, the rubber webs, the shooters, the targets, the crane — but after I told her they’re just they’re to play with, she hasn’t been as caught up on those things.

As a long-time action figure collector and fan, I do have a few comments. First off, these toys look like they fell right off the TV screen which is crucial when dealing with toon-based toys. The figures themselves are a little stiff, but that goes away the more you play with them. The only one that wasn’t is the Venom ATV toy which, contrary to what I said in the video, doesn’t have much in the way of articulation. The knees are permanently bent, which I didn’t notice at the time. I know more joints equal more cost, but I personally love my Spidey figures to be as flexible as possible. Lu doesn’t seem to care about any of that, but it’s something I noticed.

I also love how the ATV rolls around on our carpet and the playset is super fun. Even without shooting the webs, this fairly simple set offers plenty of play potential whether your kid is like mine and just likes to have a setting for her figures to run around on or if you’re like me and want to bash through some doors and swing around. It actually reminds me of the classic Karate Kid dojo set that I loved as a kid.ultimate spider-man web spinners line up

I don’t know if I’m just inept or what, but the stretchy web things just do not work for me. I saw the man do them with ease at Toy Fair and figured I could do it myself, but that has not been the case. The kid’s gotten it a few times, but no luck on my end.

On another level, I wish this line had some female toys for my daughter to play with. This might be part of that age-old idea that female action figures don’t sell or might go back to the TV series (not sure if any female Spideys are on there), but it’s a bummer. I passed my daughter a box of JLU toys I’ve had for years and she immediately pulled out all the ladies and started playing with them, so clearly there’s interest there.

Even though I had some problems with these figures, I think that overall they are rad playthings for younger kids. They seem sturdy enough to withstand the kind of strenuous playing that younger kids can and should put their toys through. I’m seriously thinking about tying a string to them, sticking one end up high and just swinging them around!

We Can’t Wait To See Tinker Bell & The Legend Of The NeverBeast

PubTinkFriendsBeastcolor2We’re pretty big fans of Disney’s Tinker Bell movies and shorts in this house. I wasn’t sure what to expect when my daughter started watching Tinker Bell, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue and Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings almost non-stop on Netflix in the past few years, but I’ve come to find these bits of animated goodness to be packed with fun adventure stories with heart and compassion at the center of them. So, when The Pirate Fairy came out last year, we were all pretty excited to see what would happen in that one. legend of the neverbeast

As anyone who watches any of the Disney channels knows, they do a stellar job of getting kids excited about these things months in advance, so by the time we finally did see it, it was a big deal. The same can be said of this year’s Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast which came out last week, but we haven’t seen it yet.

With all that in mind, here’s a variety of images and videos I’ve been sent along with the movie’s official synopsis if you haven’t seen anything about it. Like Christina Hendricks and Tom Hiddleston did in Pirate Fairy, Ginnifer Goodwin and Rosario Dawson both join the cast that includes regulars Mae Whitman, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symoné, Megan Hilty and Pamela Adlon.

The heartwarming story explores the ancient myth of a mysterious creature whose distant roar sparks the curiosity of Tinker Bell’s friend Fawn, an animal fairy who’s not afraid to break the rules to rescue the NeverBeast before time runs out.  The fairies meet Gruff who is a massive creature and the subject of an ancient Pixie Hollow myth. Hidden in a dark lair on the fringes of the fairies’ beloved home, Gruff is discovered by curious and empathetic animal fairy Fawn, who sees something special in his glowing green eyes. His penchant for stacking rocks mystifies Fawn and her friends—but Gruff’s true purpose is the real surprise.

Here’s a series of concept art pieces that give you an idea of what you the movie and Gruff will look like:

And now you can check out Nyx (Dawson) and her rad-looking Scout Fairies. Here’s hoping this gang gets a spinoff where they go on black ops fairy operations (or something).

There you have it. What do you think? Are you looking forward to NeverBeast as much as we are? I’m still not sure when we will get a chance to see it, though. As I mentioned above, the Blu-ray and DVD sets are available for purchase, but we usually don’t buy these movies because they wind up on Netflix eventually. I can’t quite remember how long it took for Pirate Fairy to debut on Disney Channel, but I’m sure we’ll know when as Disney Junior is on for several hours a day while our daughter plays and hangs out with her brother and grandma.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 94

pop poppa nap cast logoThe Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 94 covers some recent changes in my work schedule, the end of a terrible month, lots of comics and movies and a few tips about teaching your baby sign language.

Here’s the Fluttershy Lu got along with the Horror Classic Funko Mystery Minis Jason Vinyl Figure I scored.

astro city through open doorsMeanwhile, if you want to check out Astro City, I highly recommend going to the beginning with Life in the Big City, but you can also pick up the book I just did called Through Open Doors. The Spider-Man issue I mentioned is actually Web of Spider-Man #81 and I reviewed it over on UnitedMonkee.com.

deerDeer aren’t all bad…I guess.

big hero six blu-rayTo see the Frozen elements in Big Hero 6, head on over here.

Keep your eyes peeled on UM for a more formal review of Cronos. But, I did review Pacific Rim and The Strain, if you’re interested.

The two kids comics I mentioned are The Clouds Above and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business.

I called Aunt May Peter Parker’s grandma. Obviously this is a huge geek goof. It’s clearly his aunt. Please forgive me oh wrathful geek gods.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 93

pop poppa nap cast logo The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 93 is a short one covering the crumminess of February and the greatness of Disney’s Miles From Tomorrowland.

my little pony friendship is magic adventures of the cutie mark crusaders

My review of *deep breath* My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Adventures Of The Cutie Mark Crusaders can be found here. *whew*

Miles from tomorrowland

Miles From Tomorrowland is on the Disney channels all the time, but you can also give it a look on Watch Disney Junior.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Marked Ones: My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Adventures Of The Cutie Mark Crusaders

my little pony friendship is magic adventures of the cutie mark crusadersOver the past few years, I’ve tried to embrace the world of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic to see if it’s something my 3-year-old daughter responds to. At first, she didn’t seem all that interested, but since that first introduction she has become a huge fan of the spinoff series Equestria Girls and also watches the regular series when it pops up on TV. Since we moved last fall, we’ve got much better cable which increases her choices and also allows for us to tap into On Demand. Not long ago we caught an episode called “Call of the Cutie” which focused on three younger ponies named Sweetie Bell, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom who don’t yet have their cutie marks, the symbol that appears on the horse’s flank that indicates their special skill. So, when I got an e-mail asking if I’d be interested in reviewing My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Adventures Of The Cutie Mark Crusaders I was very much on board.

Since then, my daughter has watched this five episode disc all the way through several times. The other day I asked her what she likes about it and she essentially said that she appreciates seeing young ponies going on adventures. I thought that was really interesting, but it makes sense considering how young or youthful all her favorite main characters from animation are. It just makes sense that she’s appreciate younger characters with manes!

“The Cutie Mark Chronicles,” “The Cutie Pox,” “Flight To The Finish,” “Pinkie Pride” and “Twilight Time” are all quality episodes that aren’t too on-the-nose about their themes which deal with lots of growing-up issues. The whole idea of not having cutie marks yet is a great metaphor for development that I think can be useful in the future. I’ve come to realize that, while some elements of these shows might go over the kids’ heads at this young age, they can be used as points of reference later on when you’re trying to explain aspects of life to your kids. I recommend sitting down and watching these episodes with your children and taking mental notes for what might be useful later on.

My only complaint about this DVD is that it doesn’t include “Call Of The Cutie” which sets the whole thing up. That’s just me though. I like context, but I’m pretty sure my kiddo doesn’t care.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 92

pop poppa nap cast logoThe Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 92 covers the great time I had at Toy Fair followed by the far less first half of the week where I tried to write about it.

Kid O is awesome, do yourself a favor and check out their stuff.

Here’s the poo mug I mentioned. I still haven’t been able to figure out which booth it was at.

holy crap mugIf you’re unfamiliar, this is what LEGO Friends sets look like. The characters are a bit more doll like and the colors more in the pastel spectrum. The woman I talked to told me they spent four years researching the kinds of LEGO sets girls would want to play with and these were the results.

lego friends heartlake stables

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 91

pop poppa nap cast logo

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 91 covers a gnarly stomach bug, all this snow and video game fun times with the eldest child.

If you’re curious about why The Protector 2 was so disappointing, read this.

Here’s Patton Oswalt’s routine from Werewolves & Lollipops on birthdays that I mentioned. It’s probably NSFW.

To see my reviews of those Batman and Superman comics I mentioned, check out the ones on UnitedMonkee and PopPoppa.

Here’s the video I mentioned of my doing Alphabet Sounds when Lu was a baby. I wrote about doing this with Lu back in 2011.

If the Retron 3 sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out the following link on Amazon: Hyperkin Retron 3 Video Game System for NES/SNES/GENESIS – Gray

duck hunt dog

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Hey, Kids Comics! – The Batman Adventures & Adventures Of Superman

superman batman alex ross

I’ve loved comic books since I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to turn that affection into a career. As the parent of two kiddos, I want to have samplings of my hobby I can pass them when and if they show interest. Hey, Kids Comics! will chronicle my experience going through these offerings and not only evaluating my kids’ potential interest but also passing along any potential trouble spots for children and parents. As always, I encourage you to read these books first to see if you think your kid will enjoy them.

the-batman-adventures-vol-1Over on my pop culture blog UnitedMonkee I reviewed a pair of trades collecting comics I thought might be good for kids to check out, but probably aren’t solid for younger kids. Like I said when I reviewed Batman ’66 Volume 1, I’m always looking for versions of these characters I love that I can pass along to my 3-year-old, but I’ve got to say that The Batman Adventures Vol. 1 and Adventures of Superman Vol. 1 aren’t those books, at least for another few years.

As you can see in the review I wrote over on UM, I do actually love both of those collections, but I did want to point out to this audience that they might not be the best introductions to these characters for little kids. Even though The Batman Adventures is based on a cartoon — the amazing 90s ‘toon Batman: The Animated Series — it’s still aimed at kids a bit older than my daughter’s age.

Sometime in the past year I was watching Batman: TAS and she came in the room and it freaked her out. Also, when I showed her the covers to this and the Batman ’66 book, she quickly went to the cartoonier book. I think the inherent darkness of TAS — both in visual style and tone — is just a bit too intense for her. The nice thing about a comic like this that’s based on a show, though, is that you can easily sit your kid down in front of an example and if they dig it, then you’re good to jump into the series. I’ll probably wait until Lu’s a few years older before going down this particular route with her, but I’m always looking for more kid friendly Bat books.

adventures-of-superman-vol-1I was also curious to see if the digital-first, but printed Adventures Of Superman anthology series would be a good place for our kiddo to start experiencing the superhero that changed my life. This series has a variety of stories by all kinds of amazing writers and artists that run the gamut from Superman figuring out a good mission for his backwards clone Bizarro to Superman’s mom wishing he’d come home for dinner. Much like with the Batman book, I think this is a wonderful batch of comic books, great for a new reader, just not a super young one because the Man of Steel is still dealing with a variety of people trying to kill him on a regular basis.

There are definitely stories in here that are cool for kids, but have you ever tried to flip past one story to get to another with a pre-schooler looking on? It can lead to more than a few problems. However, a good way to get around that might be to go back to these stories’ digital roots which can be found on Comixology. In that format, each “issue” is broken up into different downloadable chapters that cost $0.99 each. This would allow you to show them just the ones that you think they’d be into without the hassle of them seeing you skip past the ones that aren’t.

 

Blu-Review: 101 Dalmatians Diamond Edition

101 dalmatians diamond editionI basically jump at the chance to get my hands on any review copy of a Disney movie these days. Not only do I love the long standing tradition of animation from the House of Mouse, but I also like showing these older films to my daughter who has a fairly set rotation when it comes to her movie choices. So, when I got an email about 101 Dalmatians: Diamond Edition, which hits stores today, I was easily excited.

Luckily, our 3-year-old was in an open-minded headspace when this set came in the mail because she was pretty jazzed to watch it (not something that happens all the time). She might not have been instantly familiar with this film from 1961, but she does watch a lot of Disney Channel which means she’s seen the interstitials featuring some of the puppies which convey messages like “wipe your paws” and “take a nap.” That was enough to get her in and we’ve watched the movie probably six times since then. It’s become a solid family favorite.

While watching the film, I realized that I’d never seen 101 Dalmatians all the way through, at least not in the past two and a half decades. I kept remembering plot points from Lady And The Tramp and possibly Oliver And Company, so the plot of this movie was mostly a nice surprise. We start off with Dalmatian Pongo narrating about his pet Roger who needs a mate. Soon enough he spots fellow dog Perdita and her pet Anita. Soon enough the two couples are married and puppies are expected. Enter the villain of the piece Cruella De Vil who wants the puppies to make a coat out of. She sends her thugs to steal them and when the humans can’t figure out where the puppies are, Pongo and Perdita use the Twilight Bark to convey word to other dogs. Thankfully, this works, and the parents go on an epic journey to get a whole lotta little dogs away from the baddies and back home.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit because it moved along quickly and didn’t lag. The marriage happens quickly, the parents get on the case as soon as possible and the movie doesn’t really slow down in the last 30 minutes or so as the long trek home kicks off. There’s even some pretty funny moments that have me laughing out loud — though less so, now that I’ve seen the movie so many times.Cruella-de-Ville

Here’s something I thought of while watching the movie that I want to run by you, faithful readers. Is Cruella De Vil the worst Disney animated villain around? I’m thinking she is because her whole goal is to murder the children of the protagonists. Who’s worse than that? Scar offed his brother in front of his kid, which is pretty bad, but this is basically mass murder, right? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Since this is a Diamond Edition, it’s packed with extra features, including a batch from the first DVD release. I haven’t had time to dig into those or any of the commentaries, but we did watch “The Further Adventures Of Thunderbolt” which is a fun continuation of the cartoon the dogs watch before their adventure continues. There’s also a cool episode of Walt Disney Presents called “The Best Doggoned Dogs In The World” from 1961. Canine-centric, the episode not only features videos of dogs walking on two legs that had me howling (puns!), but also a presentation of the film to get viewers excited. While watching the black and white episode, I realized it must have been a trip seeing ads for the movie on TV and then going to the theater and seeing the whole thing in color. Musta been pretty cool.

 

Anyway, I thought this film was pretty great and my daughter agreed. She didn’t seem too creeped out by the super-evil Cruella, but mileage may vary other kids. A good test is probably to show your kids her first appearance and see how they respond. She sure gets crazier, but that’s a good baseline for her scariness. If they don’t like that, it’s probably a good idea to hold off on more 101 Dalmatians until later.

Taking A Swing At Clarence: Mystery Piñata

clarence mystery pinataLast week I reviewed a copy of the Steven Universe: Gem Glow DVD and mentioned that I also received a review copy of Clarence: Mystery Piñata. Now that we’re closer to the 12-episode compilation’s Feb. 10th release date, it’s the perfect time to talk about the show my daughter refers to as Flarence for reasons untold.

Like Steven Universe, Clarence is a series that comes from an Adventure Time alum, in this case Skyler Page. Unlike those other two shows, though, this one does not revolve around any kind of supernatural or sci-fi elements. Instead, Clarence focuses on the title character, a boy who lives with his mom and step-dad and hangs out with his friends Jeff and Sumo.

When I first saw the ads for Clarence, I wasn’t sure if I would like it because it seemed like the title characters was a bit too doofy for my liking. However, after going in on deep dive thanks to Mystery Piñata I’m glad to say that, while he’s not the smartest kid in the world — that’s where his buddy Jeff comes in — he’s got a huge heart and a lot of genuine enthusiasm. On either side of him you’ve got the complete craziness of Sumo and the overly intellectual Jeff which makes for a nice balance that I remember from my own childhood.

My three-year-old daughter loves the silly antics on this show, but I’m fond of it because I love the kid-based lifestyle it represents. These are kids who run around in the woods and play outside, going on adventures and whatnot. That’s the kind of life I had as a child — I grew up right across the street from a small city park — and I worry that it’s becoming extinct in a world that’s become overly paranoid and worried.

While I enjoyed all of the episodes on this DVD, I think “Pretty Great Day With A Girl,” “Clarence’s Millions” and “Jeff’s New Toy” are favorites right now. In the first Clarence realizes that girls are pretty cool and fun to hang out with. It deals with a lot of gender issues without smashing you over the head with them. The middle one finds Clarence developing a kind of currency that winds up taking the school by storm. In the last, Jeff gets a flying toy based on a robotic Supreme Court justice that he wants to just keep on a shelf. Clarence can’t handle not playing with a toy and gets into some shenanigans. Both episodes not only show off the characters well, but also remind me of situations my friends and I got into in grade school.

Here’s the episode list, along with the chronological order of appearance according to Wiki!

“Fun Dungeons Face Off” (Episode 1)
“Pretty Great Day With A Girl” (Episode 2)
“Lost In The Supermarket” (Episode 4)
“Clarence’s Millions” (Episode 5)
“Jeff’s New Toy” (Episode 7)
“Zoo” (Episode 11)
“Rise ‘n’ Shine” (Episode 12)
“Average Jeff” (Episode 18)
“Slumber Party” (Episode 16)
“Dream Boat” (Episode 15)
“Too Gross For Comfort” (Episode 23)
“Neighborhood Grill” (Episode 21)

The Best Dad Commercials Of The Super Bowl

I intended to get this post up yesterday, but the combined forces of a big snow storm and the kids both getting a gnarly (and messy) stomach virus preempted all that. I had a great time watching this year’s Super Bowl between the Patriots and the Seahawks. I didn’t have a dog in the fight per se because I’m a Steelers fan, but since my wife is a Pats fan I found myself rooting for them. Frankly, I was just glad that it wasn’t a total washout like last year’s big game. Continue reading

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 90

pop poppa nap cast logo

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 90 might sound a little echo-y because of the new computer, but it covers Guardians of the Galaxy, snowy days, Steven Universe and way more.

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My review of Guardians can be found here. To see the Rocket Raccoon toy I mentioned, check this link out and to see my review of the Steven Universe DVD head on thisaway.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

Hey, Kids Comics! – Batman ’66 Volume 1

batman 66I’ve loved comic books since I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to turn that affection into a career. As the parent of two kiddos, I want to have samplings of my hobby I can pass them when and if they show interest. Hey, Kids Comics! will chronicle my experience going through these offerings and not only evaluating my kids’ potential interest but also passing along any potential trouble spots for children and parents. As always, I encourage you to read these books first to see if you think your kid will enjoy them.

Batman 66 Vol 1As a kid, my first real exposure to Batman came from the Adam West TV show. Even though I was growing up in the 80s, a few decades after the series first aired its impressive 120 episode run, I was lucky enough to catch them on reruns. At the time, I just took the campy antics at face value, but still fully enjoyed watching the exploits of Batman, Robin and Batgirl as they took on The Joker, Riddler, Catwoman (or Catwomen, more accurately), Egghead and the rest. For years, the only way you could see these episodes was if they happened to be on TV as the home video rights were a tangled mess. In the past few years, though, those rights have been detangled and simplified to the point where we now have Batman: The Complete Television Series, action figures and other collectibles and a comic book from DC called Batman ’66.
Continue reading

Taking A Shine To Steven Universe: Gem Glow

steven universe gem glowFor over a year, my daughter stuck to PBS and The Disney Channel when it came to her viewing habits. In the past year or so, she’s migrated away from public television (I’ll always love you Sesame Street, I’ll see you again when Jack’s older!) and now prefers On Demand and Cartoon Network. I’m cool with this for the most part, especially because CN has a variety of cool shows from wildly creative people like Steven Universe and Rebecca Sugar. Continue reading

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 89

pop poppa nap cast logo

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 89 covers our continued sleep problems, plus costume and karate cuteness as well as my problem with stories like Mulan.

I haven’t gotten to my Tarantino post over on UnitedMonkee post yet, but keep an eye over there for it to go live next week. lu in care bear costume

Can you handle the cuteness? To see Lu giving Jack and I check-ups check out the Photo Diary post from January 15th.

It took more looking around than I would have through, but I finally found a story about the Miss America contestant I was talking about. I’m not so sure about the article’s tone, but it seems like I got the basics right.  mulan

Am I being too sensitive about Mulan or is it better to wait and show our daughters material that includes stereotypes and long-held anti-women beliefs that in turn contradicts those idea?

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.