Hey everyone, I’m Jules. If you shop at the Snail, you probably know me, but here I am trying something new! Every few weeks, I’d like to take up some space on our blog to talk about some of the great books we have in stock here at the Silver Snail. Since I’m a sucker for puns, I’ll be calling this column, Jules’ Jems. Get it? If you have a suggestion, or if you want to talk comics you get in touch on Twitter @silversnailto
Anyone who knows me knows that my two favourite types of comics are horror and children's. Since Halloween has just passed and you're all sick of spooky, I've decided to focus the first Jules' Jems column on some of my favourite all-ages and pre-teen appropriate comics.
The great thing about a good all-ages book is that both kids and parents can enjoy together, and the best part is they are an excellent stepping stone for introducing the little ones in your life to comics-- that way, when they're all grown up, they'll be excited about 'the good stuff.'
This list compiles some of my very favourite books, as well as some titles I’ve picked up and read specifically with this article in mind. Hopefully, you’ll find something here that catches your eye.
For more information about any of these titles, come on into the shop and talk with a staff member—we’re happy to help!
- Writer/Artist: Kazu Kibuishi
- Publisher: Scholastic
- Number of Volumes: 6 (Ongoing)
The first time I picked up volume one of Amulet, I was drawn in by the bright and expressive artwork, as well as the large, sparse lettering. Big print makes these books easy for little ones to read along with and also definitely helps keep each panel aesthetically pleasing and clean.
Our story begins after the death of Emily and Navin’s father. In order to start fresh and help ease their grief, the two siblings and their mother move to a large, old house which used to belong to their great-grandfather. Of course, the house isn’t all what it seems.
As the family settles in, they discover some oddities around the house, one being an old, intriguing amulet which Emily decides to wear, the other being a door in the basement which apparently leads to another world.
After their mother is swept away through the mysterious basement door, it’s up to Emily and Navin to rescue her.
Here is where the book really starts to take shape; readers join Emily and Navin as they explore this new and dangerous world. The two of them encounter subterranean labyrinths, gorgeously painted towns and fly in airships piloted by humanoid cats. All the while, Emily is tasked with discovering the true nature of the amulet she found and undertakes the responsibility of learning how to use the powers it possesses.
All in all, it’s a fun and fast paced adventure. Kids will grow attached to the well-developed, likeable characters and the plot is complex enough that adults won’t be bored to tears reading along.
- Writer/Artist: Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson/Brooke Allen
- Publisher: BOOM!
- Number of Volumes: 2 (Ongoing)
If you haven’t heard of Lumberjanes yet, you probably live under a rock (or… a pile of lumber? I’m sorry; I won’t make any more jokes). This book began with humble beginnings as a six part miniseries. A six part miniseries that is now NINETEEN issues long!
Lumberjanes is all about friendship, silliness, survival skills and scout camp. It focuses on five best friends: Jo, Ripley, Molly, April and Mal; all of whom are determined to have the Best Summer Ever. In each issue, the girls work to solve one big, overarching mystery which has shrouded their scout camp. Along the way they dabble in the supernatural and kick plenty of monster butt.
This book is well-presented, brightly coloured and continues along at a steady pace, leaving no room for any downtime. I especially like the character designs, the depth of mystery, and most importantly, the core values of friendship displayed throughout the book.
Lumberjanes is recommended for a pre-teen audience (12 and up), with some themes and humor being a little bit more on the mature side.
DISNEY KINGDOMS: SEEKERS OF THE WEIRD
- Writer/Artist: Brandon Seifert/ Karl Moline, Filipe Andrade
- Publisher: Marvel/Disney
- Number of Volumes: 1 (Complete)
Let me start this off by saying "why"? Why has it taken so long for Marvel to take advantage of all the great Disney properties out there? I might be a bit biased because I’m a big fan of Disney, but this girl is still holding out for comic-versions of every childhood film. Is that too much to ask?
Seekers of the Weird takes us deeper into Disney-lore. A comic book based off a theme park attraction which Walt Disney himself had intended to serve as part of the Haunted Mansion spectacle. The never-built Museum of the Weird serves as the inspiration for this not-so-scary, creepy comic.
When Maxwell and Melody’s parents are kidnapped, it’s up to them (with their eccentric, dashing Uncle as their guide) to traverse through another dimension in order to save them, and possibly the world. However, Melody and Maxwell are no strangers to the unknown; their parents make their livelihood off of their small shop, which peddles mystical objects and oddities.
The book is stuffed full of monsters and ghosts, believably strange without being too frightening or violent. The world built by Seifert and brought to life by Karl Moline is heavily influenced by Rolly Crump’s original designs and ideas for the theme park attraction. Both the writer and the artist take their time unveiling and guiding us through this alternate dimension through Maxwell and Molly’s point of view.
CHI’S SWEET HOME
- Writer/Artist: Konami Kanata
- Publisher: Vertical
- Number of Volumes: 7 (Completed)
Chi’s Sweet Home is about as wholesome as you can get. This book is a definite must-have for any cat lovers in the household, as well as a great option for young readers. Chi’s Sweet Home is the story of a cat named Chi, told from her perspective just as she is rescued from the streets and taken into the folds of the kind Yamada family’s apartment building. The only catch? Pets are strictly forbidden in this complex.
Reading this book for the first time, I felt about a million things at once. My heart was instantly melting over this adorably-rendered feline, meanwhile I was rolling my eyes and nodding in agreement with Kanata’s realistic portrayal of cat-logic, (Chi would rather play with the plastic bag from the pet shop than the toys inside). What makes this such an appealing book for younger readers is the lack of dialogue—Our story is told through Chi’s point of view, therefore most of the communication is done through visual ques and the seamless progression of each panel. Chi’s Sweet Home is also printed in colour, which is quite rare in the case of manga—though it still reads right to left.
There was multiple times where I laughed out loud while reading up on Chi’s adventures, one of them being when the family all pretends to make mewling noises in the presence of their landlord to try and throw him off Chi’s trail, I’ll save you the explanation of what happens when the Mr. Yamada takes Chi to her first vet appointment.
I can’t recommend this book enough to anyone who is looking for something sweet and heartwarming. If you’re looking for a book that will bring smiles and laughter, Chi’s Sweet Home is one of the best. As of right now, the entire story spans seven volumes, however volume one of the ‘complete’ edition carries the first three.
- Writer/Artist: Ryan North, Branden Lamb/Shelli Paroline
- Publisher: KaBOOM!
- Number of Volumes: 8 (Ongoing and with spin offs)
If you’re trying to get your kids more excited about reading and less into what they’re seeing on TV, why not give Adventure Time a try? This comic takes place in the land of Ooo, following the adventures of Jake the Dog and Finn the Human, made famous by Cartoon Network’s TV show of the same name.
The premise is simple. Finn and Jake are heroes. They slay beasts, look for treasure, save princesses and have fun along the way. Adventure Time is known for its zany, offbeat humour and a strong cast of memorable characters with outlandish personalities you’d be hard-pressed to find in anywhere else. Those who are fans of the show will be pleased to see Princess Bubblegum, Marceline the Vampire Queen, B-MO and the Ice King in top form, while those who are new to the series will instantly find themselves sucked into the fun, while admiring the courage and friendship Finn and Jake share.
Ryan North does an amazing job at giving each character their voice; even if you’re new to Adventure Time, it’s difficult to read this book and not already have a handle on the magnitude of Lumpy Space Princess’ swagger. Shelli Paroline’s artwork is dazzling, every line panel illuminating the colourful and busy landscapes.
Adventure Time has been so successful that there are nearly endless side stories and one-offs to choose from to accompany the main story. If you can’t get enough of this book, check out Marceline and the Scream Queens, Adventure Time with Fiona and Cake (a genderbent version of the main storylines), or the Sugary Shorts collections. If you don’t know where to start, just ask our staff!