Hey, Kids Comics! – Dance Class Volume 1: So, You Think You Can Hip-Hop?

Dance Class 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.

dance class vol 1As usual, I picked up Dance Class Volume 1: So, You Think You Can Hip-Hop? from the library. When my daughter checks out the computer games, I peruse the adjacent shelves of kid-oriented graphic novels. I’m trying to broaden my horizons in this arena by getting some books that might appeal more to her sensibilities. Since she’s taking a ballet/gymnastics class these days, Dance Class by French creators Beka and Crip from Papercutz seemed like a solid choice.

And it was actually pretty successful because she wanted to check this book out as soon as she saw it in the stack when we got home. I knew nothing about the comic, but we dove right in and she seemed to have a good time with it. The book actually has a lot of ties to the world of comic strips in that each page is a self contained gag or story, though some elements carry throughout like the performance of Sleeping Beauty and the dreamy new hip hop dance teacher (was this an Angelina Ballerina story too?). Like with Tiny Titans, I wasn’t sure if she would get the format or the gags, but she seemed to have a really good time with it.

dance class pageI must admit, I did find myself laughing at some of the jokes, which I wasn’t really expecting. I didn’t fully get into this book though because of a few characters and choices made in regards to them. First, there’s a young woman named Lucie who isn’t skinny as a rail (she looks like a normal kid, in other words) and she’s sometimes the butt of fat jokes. Many of those come from the mean girl character Carla. They’re far from the worst examples of either stereotype (as you can see in this panel), but I’m not super excited about presenting my kids with them, at least right now.

With that in mind, I planned on returning this book to the library and maybe not mentioning it again, but then I saw my daughter practicing her ballet movies with this book opened up to the page where they describe the different positions. I was blown away. So, I think I’ll maybe give these books a read-through ahead of time and note where some of the jokes I’m less comfortable with are so I can change or skip them when reading because she really seems to dig it right now.

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Hey, Kids Comics! Scarygirl & The Creeps

adventures of scarygirlI had big plans for doing a series of Halloween-related posts here on the blog leading up to my favorite holiday, but it just didn’t happen thanks to that whole parenting thing and work getting in the way. I did, however, do some all-ages, Halloween themed reading that is worth posting about thanks to some books I picked up at the library.

The Adventures Of Scarygirl by Nathan Jurevicius grabbed my attention just from the cover. I love cartoony art styles in comics and this book has it all over the place. The story itself follows the misadventures of the title character who makes friends with a sea monster and a somewhat magical rabbit. She wants to find out why she was dumped in the woods, remembering the face of a specific man, and heads towards his location. The adventure is fraught with betrayal, threats and other dangers that eventually make Scarygirl realize that this man might not be the source of enlightenment she hoped for.

Here’s the thing, though, this book is presented without dialogue. There are some sound effects in here and there are speech bubbles, but they’re filled with images of people and places or a handful of symbols. Even as a 32 year old adult who’s read comic books for a third of his life, I had some trouble following a few of the details, so I’m not sure if that will make it better or worse for a younger reader. I showed my 4-year-old some of the pictures and she dug the style, but she wasn’t too interested. When I read her other comics, I know she can get a bit lost as to which panel I’m reading from and she should be focusing on, so this one might not be the best choice. On the other hand, though, a lack of words might break down some barriers for kids, so I’d recommend checking this one out and presenting it to your kids. If they don’t get too freaked out by some of the pages, they might be all up for this one.

Speaking of the pages, dang this artwork is just gorgeous. While reading the book I found myself wishing I could play it like a video game. I must not have been the only one because it is also a video game that I now very much want to play. Has anyone played it?

the creeps vol 1 night of the frankenfrogsI was also very quickly and easily drawn to Chris Schweizer’s The Creeps Volume 1 Night Of The Frankenfrogs. As I’ve mentioned more than once, I love the films of the 80s aimed at kids that put them in real danger like Monster Squad, The Goonies, Cloak & Dagger, E.T. and even The Gate. I got that vibe just from the cover of this book from Amulet Books and was not disappointed.

The Creeps centers around a quartet of outcasts each with a specific set of skills that helps them rid their town of supernatural and sci-fi threats. These kids try to save the world from frakenfrogs while avoiding the rest of their classmates who hate them and dealing with the bad guys behind the infestation.

Again, I showed this one to my daughter but she wasn’t ready to make the commitment to a graphic novel. Still, she seemed to like the look of the characters and was appropriately grossed out by the monsters. To my mind, this book feels like it would fit in with the first batch of original Nickelodeon cartoons from the 90s like Doug, Ren & Stimpy and Rugrats. If that sounds like it might be up your kids’ alley (or yours) then go ahead and give this one a shot!