February 11, 2010

Graphic Novel Adventures

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom
by Eric Wight
ages: 8+
First sentence:"I've been called a lot of names: treasure seeker, relic hunter, grave robber."
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Frankie Pickle (aka Franklin Lorenzo Piccolini) is just your average adventurer. Rescuing cities from destruction by your evil robots. Battling lava monsters. Avoiding cleaning up his room. Nothing atypical here.

That is, until is mother decides that he should just not pick up his room. Who cares, after all? And thus begins a week in which Frankie gets his way... and discovers just how dangerous that can be.

This is a fun little graphic novel. It's more graphic novel than middle grade book, though it does flip between the two styles. All of Frankie's adventures -- from Indiana Jones-style through to superheroes saving the day -- are in comic book style, which really adds to the excitement. Sometimes, it's better to draw than to describe, and this is one of those times. On top of that, it has a cute little message (hey, kids: clean rooms aren't that bad!) at the end.

Loads of fun.


Outlaw: the Legend of Robin Hood
by Tony Lee/Sam Hart/Artur Fujita
ages: 11+
First sentence: "A moment, if you please!"
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I've come to realize that I have the same love of Robin Hood mythologies that I do for King Arthur. Either it's because they're medieval British guys or because they're fabulously interesting myths that are open to some fascinating interpretations. I'm not quite sure.

At any rate, I was more than eager to pick up this graphic novel adaptation of the legend to see what Lee, Hart and Fujita have to add to the lore. And, for the most part, I thought it was okay. All the traditional elements were there: Robin was a former noble, home from the crusades, and turns outlaw to protest and protect his people from the evil that is the Sheriff of Nottingham. In this version, the sheriff is a bit of a lackey, and it's Guy of Gisburn who's the real heavy and bad guy. Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet and Maid Marian are all there playing individual roles. Little John has an expanded part in this, being the original outlaw and Robin essentially joins them.

Other than the first few pages, which show a sort-of Batmanesque origin story for Robin Hood, there wasn't anything interesting done with the lore. It was the Robin Hood story, straight up no chasers. Which is all fine and good, but not exactly what I was hoping for. That, and the drawings bugged me. There was too much in shadow, and it was hard to tell who exactly was whom. By the time I had everyone straight, the story was nearly over. It was adventuresome, and there were moments of the sauciness that I love in my Robin Hood, but mostly it was melodramatic.

Not exactly what I was hoping for.

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