A bit uneven but a fun premise nonetheless.

READ REVIEW

THE DEADENING

From the Dead Max Comix series , Vol. 1

A timid boy receives guidance from the ghost of his beloved pet.

Derrick Hollis, a white, bespectacled seventh grader with long sandy hair, loves art and spending time with his gray dog, Max. An introvert, Derrick escapes problems at school and his implied alcoholic mother by losing himself in his drawings with Max by his side. When Max is hit by a car and dies, Derrick is understandably heartbroken. In a supernatural turn of events, Max’s spirit materializes at his side as a kind of ghostly Jiminy Cricket. Emboldened by Max’s sage, otherworldly advice, Derrick finds the courage to stand up against bullies, show his art, and ask his crush to the dance. At first glance, this seems to be in the vein of Goosebumps, but it actually lands closer to James Patterson’s I Funny series. Striving to hit a balance between gravitas and slapstick, Sullivan does not quite manage to pull off this feat, tipping more toward humor and skimming over the deeper subjects. This slim series opener is told in short, fast-paced chapters composed of very busy, full-color panels interspersed with Derrick’s own comics. Max and his best friend are white and his crush has light brown skin. Secondary and background characters encompass a more inclusive spectrum of skin tones.

A bit uneven but a fun premise nonetheless. (Graphic fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63440-852-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Red Chair Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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NIGHTLIGHTS

When a young girl’s imagination and creativity are co-opted by a mysterious new friend, she must find a way to regain what is rightfully hers.

Sandy is a brown-skinned, dark-haired girl with big black eyes and a vivid imagination. At night, as she goes to sleep, she catches the lights bobbing about in her room and turns them into anything she imagines. The next day is spent drawing the fantastical creatures from her dreams, much to the detriment of her schoolwork. When a tall, pale-skinned girl with purple hair befriends her, Sandy is excited, though there is something eerie and unsettling about her new companion. Her excitement soon turns to anger as Morfie enters her imaginative nighttime world and tries to take it over. Readers will cheer at the clever way in which Sandy regains control. Using a lovely palette that includes a liberal amount of rich, dark purple, Colombian-born Alvarez has drawn a world that harks back to her native Bogotá and days in Catholic school, evoking it in wonderful detail and atmosphere. Her pages are not crowded yet are filled with details that will engage readers. The beings that inhabit Sandy’s nighttime world are simply delightful. The album size, cloth spine binding, and spot gloss on the cover are the icing on the cake of this beautiful graphic novel.

A winner. (Graphic fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-910620-13-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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