Markley’s Fevered Brain: It’s Christmas Time

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

As the holidays are around the corner I thought I would devote this blog to a few suggestions of last minutes gifts for the comic fan. I also thought I would focus on what I consider the most under serviced part of comic readers; the youngest ones. All of these books are ether perfect for, or designed for, younger readers. I think there is so much competing for the attention and time of young people, from the littlest of people to teens, that comics have had a hard time appealing to them. And with comics seemly aimed at and catering to middle aged males, this younger generation needs to learn the joy of comics. I first discovered comics when I was very young (five) and have loved them ever since. I think any of these books are a perfect way to introduce a young reader to the joy of comics and hopefully cultivate a new audience for the medium that has been missing for ages now. All of these books are perfect for new readers and young readers.

Long time readers of this blog will recognize some of these titles as I have long championed them, and this is in no way a complete list, and really is just the tip of the pile of what is out there.

Bone

Bone


Bone is one of the most respected works for young readers and it is by Jeff Smith. Bone is the tale of three cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, and it follows their adventures as they wander finding adventure and actions with hilarious results. Along the way they meet Thorn (which was the college newspaper strip Jeff did that Bone is based on), Grandma Ben, and the great Red Dragon. These books have been a bestsellers for decades now and it is easily the first book parents are willing to try for their young reader who are not familiar with comics. Bone has been collected in a number of formats, including a massive black and white collection (over 1300 pages), in nice individual full color volumes, a full color complete collection, and it you want to search, there are the original comics and the kid’s magazine, Disney Adventures, where Bone first appeared in color. There are also a number of trades by Jeff and others expanding the Bone universe, including Rose, Tall Tales and more. As with all of the books in this blog, these stories can also be enjoyed by adults. Published by Graphix Books.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up

Scooby-Doo Team-Up


Next is one of my favorite books from anywhere and I have written hundreds of words on it; Scooby-Doo Team-Up. This series ran for 50 issues and each issue was Scooby-Doo and the gang teaming up with a DC hero or a Hanna Barbara classic character. It featured guest stars from Superman to Angel and the Ape to Yogi Bear to Top Cat. This series was a love letter to old school DC (the 1960s) and it was filled with charm and whimsy and slap stick humor. It is perfect for young readers. I loved this book because it can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike and both will enjoy it for different reasons. A perfect book for parents to read along with their kids. There are nine paperback volumes collecting all the issues of this amazing series by Sholly Fisch (who wrote all of the issues) and Dario Brizuela (who drew most of the issues). From DC Comics.

Scooby-Doo's Greatest Adventures

Scooby-Doo’s Greatest Adventures


While talking about Scooby-Doo, there is also a collection at a great price called Scooby-Doo’s Greatest Adventures. This is a massive (over 400 pages) tome of Scooby adventures from various periods of Scooby’s comics from DC Comics. It includes 30 stories of Scooby and the gang, both stories just of the gang, and select stories from the run of Scooby-Doo Team Up. At the retail price of $14.99 this is a real bargain that offers hours of reading fun.

Amulet

Amulet


Another series from Graphic is Kazu Kibuishi amazing series Amulet. This story tells the tale of a young teen girl Emily, her younger brother Navin, and their mum as they are drawn into a fantasy adventure that is a roller coaster of adventure. Beautiful full color art just radiates off the page as this page turner rivals the greatest of young adult fantasy. I would think these stories would appeal to fans of Harry Potter or similar stories. There are eight volumes so far and the concluding ninth volume is due next year. This book will surprise you page after page as the story never goes where you expect.

Usagi Yojimbo

Usagi Yojimbo


Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai tells the tale of Miyamoto Usagi, a wondering Ronin who faces all sorts of adventures. This is an anthropomorphic comic (Usagi is a rabbit) but it sheds all the trappings of traditional anthropomorphic comics. It is a warm, charming, and action filled comic that weaves together an action comic with real Japanese history to tell the story of a true man of honor. This strip has run for many years now from a variety of publishers,(currently in full color from IDW) but what I am recommending are the eight volumes that Dark Horse published called the Usagi Yojimbo Saga. These volumes collect all of the Dark Horse Usagi stories with each volume being over 600 pages. As with all of the books so far these books are a great read for any age but it they are a great introduction to comics for younger readers (11 and up).

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur


Another of my favorite books, which sadly just ended, is Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur from Marvel Comics. Lunella Lafayette is a 12 year old African American girl who happens to be the smartest person on the planet; just ask her. Through a science mistake, she brings Devil Dinosaur from the prehistoric age to the modern day where they bond and have a number of adventure that are a perfect mix of adventure and humor and are deeply rooted in the Marvel Universe with a number of well-known Marvel characters guest starring throughout the series. This series was written by Brandon Montclare (originally with co-writer Amy Reeder)  and was drawn by a number of different artists over the run of series. This book was a perfect mix of a young girl’s world view clashing with the world of super-heroic stor telling. As with all of these books, this book is filled with charm and warmth.

A Star Wars Little Golden Book

A Star Wars Little Golden Book


Finally I would recommend for the youngest of readers (or lookers), the Little Golden Book line of mini-books that are a mix of prose and comics. Little Golden Books date back almost a 100 years telling short tales (about 20 pages) with text and full color illustrations. These are more books than comics but they are a great introduction to a number of comic and pop culture characters. There are Golden Books about everything from Marvel superheroes to Star Wars to Disney movies to traditional fairy tales to Barbie to everything in between. These are an inexpensive book and make great stocking stuffers.

Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge & Donald Duck

Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge & Donald Duck


As I said when I started, these are just a tiny selection of what is available out there for the younger readers. I did not even mention Don Rosa’s masterpiece collection of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck (Ten volumes from Fantagraphics). There is so much great material out there that would be a perfect primer for future comic fans. All of these books are perfect for kids and adults alike and this list is just the tip of the mountain of great reading out there. I would also like to give a shout out to Wayne Blue for suggesting this topic. Thanks! Now, go out and buy some of these books for the holidays and help cultivate a new generation of comic fans.

That is all for this blog. Which one of these books have you read? Any? All? What would you recommend? I would like to know. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. All of the thoughts and opinions in this column are mine, all mine, and do not reflect the thoughts of Westfield Comics or their employees. (Although I know my esteemed editor, Roger Ash, would agree with me on a number of these suggestions, particularly Usagi.) As always…

Thank you. (And Happy and Safe Holidays!)

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