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.

d

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.

Hey, Kids Comics! – Tiny Titans: Welcome To The Treehouse

Tiny Titans class photoI’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.

Tiny Titans Welcome To The Treehouse Volume 1The very first comic I ever tried to read with my daughter was Art Baltazar and Franco’s Johnny DC title Tiny Titans. I was a huge fan when the book launched in 2008 thanks to its mix of inside DC fan humor and ridiculously adorable artwork. It was like a classic comedy comic, but tailor made for DC Comics fans like myself. However, she was probably two years old at that point and wasn’t interested in reading comics of any kind.

More recently, when I got the idea to start looking at various kids comics, I pulled Tiny Titans: Welcome To The Treehouse off my shelf. I got through the first issue of six collected in this volume and set it aside to do that whole parenting thing. Later that day we caught an episode of the excellent Teen Titans Go! on Cartoon Network. When that was over and I saw that my daughter had enjoyed herself, I showed her Tiny Titans and started reading to her, pointing out the characters as we went. She loved it and it has since become a mainstay in her reading rotation. Continue reading

Pop Poppa Original Recipes: Kielbasa & Cauliflower Soup

kielbasa soupAs I mentioned a few weeks back, I found myself in a dilly of a pickle one night when my slow cooker failed to cook slowly and I needed something to feed my family. I looked in my fridge, saw a packaged kielbasa sausage, some chicken stock, half of a head of cauliflower and figured I could make something work.

My initial idea to make a soup with the kielbasa was partly influenced by a slow cooker recipe I’ve made from Good Housekeeping called Kielbasa Stew. I had an idea that these basic flavors would work together. The red wine vinegar and ground mustard just came to me and wound up working really well to add some tang to the recipe.

Kielbasa & Cauliflower Soup Ingredients:

1 lbs. kielbasa sausage, diced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves diced or grated on a rasp (my new preferred method)
2 carrots, peeled & diced
2 celery stalks, cleaned & diced
Half a head of cauliflower, diced
2 cups of orzo
Enough chicken stock to cover (about 4 cups)
2 Tsp. ground mustard
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
Sauerkraut to serve

As always, I did all of my prep first which meant chopping up the vegetables and then the meat. I got the veggies cooking in a few tablespoons of olive oil as well as the red wine vinegar until tender in a Dutch oven which took about five minutes.

Then I added the sausage and cooked that for another five minutes, until it browned. After that, I covered with chicken stock, added the ground mustard and brought to a boil.

Once the liquid started boiling, I added in the orzo, gave the mixture a few stirs and then popped the lid on for 10-15 minutes until the orzo was cooked through. Once it is cooked, you’re good to go. I happened to have some canned Sauerkraut in the pantry, so that seemed like a natural accompaniment.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 88

pop poppa nap cast logoThe Pop Poppa Nap Cast #88 delves into the worlds of work, sleep (or the lack thereof) and She-Ra!

Follow the links for my posts on last week’s menu, How To Train Your Dragon 2 and the books I mentioned that were written and drawn by comic folks if you’re interested.

[youtbe=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4_353-fvTM&sns=tw]

The TTT video I mentioned that I was reminded of while watching The Goldbergs can be seen here.

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

Book Nook: The Glorkian Warrior Delivers A Pizza, Little Mouse Gets Ready & Hansel & Gretel

the glorkian warrior delivers a pizzaEvery time I go to the library with my daughter I scope out the kid’s graphic novel section which sits adjacent to the computers and play tables she loves to frequent. I walked away the other day with a pretty solid haul, all of which happen to be written and drawn by influential comic book professionals.

Written and drawn by James Kochalka, The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza is a fun comic book story about an alien and his talking backpack. Our hero gets what seems like a wrong number phone call ordering a pizza, but decides its his duty to actually make it happen, so he sets out on a wacky journey that introduces him to a new friend and a gigantic magic robot. It’s very much in the fun, crazy, surreal vein of other Kochalka works like Dragon Puncher and Johnny Boo when it comes to both artwork and story.

The 110 page book from First Second is a fun romp that might remind you of Adventure Time or something in that vein. As usual, I read these things before seeing if my three year old daughter is interested and I think I’m going to skip this one for now with her. There is a tiny bit of cartoon violence in there that and some talk of death — both of which are in Adventure Time, now that I think about it — but there’s a crazy twist at the end that I really don’t think she’d get right now. Maybe next year.

Two more quick things about Kochalka. First, if you do read this book, pass it to your kid and she or he digs it, make sure to check out his other books before passing them along. I mentioned Johnny Boo and Dragon Puncher above which are both kids books, but he also does adult work like Magic Boy, his journal comic American Elf and (hopefully) obviously SuperF*ckers that you might not want to pass along just yet. Secondly, American Elf fully inspired me to start doing Photo Diary back in 2011.

little mouse gets readyUp next we have Jeff Smith’s adorable Little Mouse Gets Ready which won the Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor according to a shiny sticker on the copy I borrowed. This is an offering from Toon Books aimed at kids my daughter’s age as it shows a young mouse getting ready to go play in the barn with his mom, brothers and sisters.

I’m embarrassed to say that I still haven’t finished Smith’s amazing epic comic book series Bone, but I’ve read enough to know that this 31 page storybook for kids fits perfectly in with the visual style established in his other work. You get a pretty good idea of it from the cover image above which features bold lines, warm colors and delightful characters.

I did read this one with my daughter and she told me she liked it, but she hasn’t become obsessed with it like some other books. Though, to be fair, she hasn’t been obsessed about any books for a while, partially because she’s been skipping naps, falling asleep on the couch and thus not having her normal “Books and Bed Time” routine.  hansel and gretel gaiman

Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti happens to be another offering from the Toon line, this time Toon Graphics. I first heard about this combination of prose and pictures back in September when I wrote about the book getting optioned for a movie over on Spinoff Online. I’ve read Gaiman’s more grown-up books like Good Omens, Neverwhere, American Gods, the short story collection Smoke and Mirrors and the incredible Vertigo comic book series Sandman. I was pretty excited because he is a writer who deals with fables in all manor of ways and I was curious to see what he would do with the Grimm brothers tale.

And I’ve got to say, it wasn’t much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid telling of this story about a pair of siblings whose parents ditch them in the woods and they eventually discover a mean old woman in the woods with an edible house who has nefarious designs for them. But, there wasn’t as much Neil Gaiman-ness in there as I had hoped. However, Mattotti’s artwork really does bring something new to this story. His deep black brush strokes fill each two page spread with the kind of darkness and shadows that you want to pour over to see if anything spooky pops out.

Because of the scarier elements of this book — which doesn’t clean up the violence from the original, but also doesn’t revel in it — I will also hold off on reading this one to my daughter. Heck, it almost gave me nightmares, who knows what she’d think?!

All-in-all this was a fun reading experience for me, even if it didn’t necessarily net much in the way of kiddo reading time offerings. Still, I love the idea that these people whose comic work I love so much are making things in various formats that I can share with my kids at various times and hopefully show them the quality of the work that these people do while laying the groundwork for future suggestions.