Category Archives: comics

Johnny Boo Volumes 1-3 by James Kochalka

One thing I’m looking forward to as my kids get older (they are almost three now) is introducing them to some of the books and comics I like. Right now their reading tastes tend towards wanting to be read various Thomas the Tank Engine stories over and over again, which is fine. But I’m curious to see if they’ll eventually enjoy reading comics. I was lucky enough to snag the first three volumes of Kochalka’s Johnny Boo series at ALA and they’ve become a real hit at my house. The stories about Johnny Boo, his friend Squiggle, and their frenemy the Ice Cream Monster are simple enough to keep the attention of a three year old and fun for parents to read out loud.

The first volume introduces the little ghosts Johnny Boo and his friend Squiggle. They have debates about which is better, Boo Power or Squiggle Power. When they go to find Johnny Boo’s secret ice cream (secret ice cream is more delicious than regular ice cream) they meet an ice cream monster who claims to be friendly, but he swallows all the ice cream and Squiggle! Fortunately Squiggle’s loop-d-loops cause the monster to burp, and everyone becomes friends in the end!

The second volume deals with the stars and Johnny Boo’s flippy haircut. When his hair flips and Squiggle laughs too much, Johnny Boo proclaims that Squiggle will not be his best friend anymore. In fact Johnny Boo states “maybe this dumb old rock will be my new best friend.” Squiggle cries and he and Johnny Boo make up, but Squiggle decides to visit the stars to learn about Twinkle Power, leaving Johnny Boo alone in the dark.

The third book shows the effects of eating too much ice cream, as Johnny Boo discovers that is muscle is all floopy, but the Ice Cream Monster is strong because he has started eating happy apples. Johnny Boo tries to find the happy apples, only to run into mishaps involving mushy apples and the strangely compulsive eating habits of the Ice Cream Monster. Even when trapped in a monster’s belly, Johnny Boo and Squiggle manage to make the best of the situation, perhaps because the Ice Cream Monster’s stomach is equipped with television.

One of the things I appreciated about the Johnny Boo books was the pacing of the yelling. Frequently being able to yell things like “Boo,” “Squiggle Power Extreme,” and “Run from his butt!” does wonders for maintaining the attention of young children. If you’re reading the books to kids, you can encourage them to yell along, and I think any child will be happy to yell “Boo!” or “EEK EEK EEK!” if given any encouragement.

I figure any time my kids will independently pick up a book and demand a reading session, that’s a good sign of the book’s appeal. Johnny Boo and the Happy Apples has been a daily read for the past week, and I was interrupted when I was writing this post and had to read all three books in a row. So that was around 120 pages that my kids sat through since each book is divided up into short chapters totaling 40 pages. These books would be a no brainer to add to a kid’s graphic novel section in a library, and they’re great to have at home if you want to introduce comics to your children. The production quality from Top Shelf is nice, these are hardback books printed on nice paper stock so the illustrations look very crisp and clear.

Good Comics For Kids

Here at the Good Comics For Kids Panel!

It has quite the impressive handout listing resources.

Brigid introduces panelists, and her own blog Manga Blog, the morning newspaper of the manga blog world. She discovered that there was a lack of kids comics blogs and started one. Was approached after running the 9 months by School Library Journal.

Robin Brenner starts by asking about audience familiarity, who has 3 different graphic novel collections sorted by age. She’ll give a more general introduction to the format

There are different types of literacy, which can mean different things other than reading text. Think about visual literacy when dealing with comics. Words and pictures equally important. GNs often written at a higher vocabulary level than you might expect, this is a big advantage for young readers. Don’t think of GNs as only a gateway to reading books.

Age ratings are a huge concern for librarians when developing GN collections. Think about movie ratings.
History of comics ratings – comics companies not a big fan of ratings post comics code. They view the idea that comics are for kids as negative. Manga companies are rating their products.

Example: Del Rey manga ratings at back of book. Tokyopop has content indicators on their ratings system, developed with a librarian.

DC Comics has imprints instead of ratings. Marvel has very general age ratings which are often opaque. Marvel Adventures are reliably good for kids. Dark Horse has tons of ratings, very good with libraries.

Example: 300 rated for 16+

All ratings systems are different so keep in mind when building library collections. There are many totally unrated books that are very good too.

Manga – Always had more extensive rating system. Manga for preteens has dwindled recently. Manga is just as diverse as American comics in terms of age ranges.
Vendors are also trying to provide some resouces – look at BWI, Baker and Taylor, Common Sense Media

Eva Volin is next:

Make GNs their own browsing collection, not interfiled. Kids need to have their own graphic novel section that they can find easily. There are plenty of GNs in picture book form already, pull them and make them their own collection.

What to do when encountering resistance – Eva went into guerilla librarian mode with GN stickers, bypassed tech services dept and their labeling service. She used packing tape to strengthen books. Once circulation stats were up up, now tech processing on board. Kids read in the aisles in the library just like they do in bookstores. Sticker labels provide help to shelvers.

How to find graphic novels – use traditional review sources, vendors, catalogs, and bloggers. Also look at ALA lists like YALSA great graphic novels for teens. Or ask around, use WorldCat to see where other libraries are shelving. Keep in mid graphic novels are is a format not a genre.

Have a collection development policy!!!!

Circulation for kids GN collection is huge.

Recommended Titles:

Captain Raptor and the Moon Mystery – Dinosaurs in Space!
Adventures in Cartooning – Great for kids who are interested in drawing.
Cowa by Akira Toriyama – All the fart jokes, none of the controversial content of Dragonball. One volume! (I want to get this now)
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute – Get Smart if secret agent was lunch lady. Sounds hilarious! Basic adventure stories with some mysteries.
Cardcaptor Sakura – Out of print, being republished by Dark Horse in omnibus editions. (yayyyyy!) Clamp is gateway manga for many female fans. Features fantastic outfits and romance.
Smile by Raina Telgemeier – Perfect for middle school students. Autobiography about having dental work in 9th grade. Speaks to trauma of middle school. Appeals to both boys and girls.

Now it is question time!!!!

Toon and Capstone have ebooks, is this a trend?

Archie comics is producing ebooks too. Look on Kindle for graphic novels. Longbox is supposed to be platform independent. Also look at sigikki.com and shonensunday.com from viz.

Should we put nonfiction graphic novels in with fiction GN collection?
Put them in same place for browsing, but shelve nonfiction by Dewey, fiction by title.
Or have nonfiction GNs interfiled with nonfiction books.
Put hybrids like Diary of a Wimpy Kid in with regular fiction. Frankie Pickle is another example of hybrid.

Comment on ebooks – Overdrive has a deal with Marvel and Tokyopop.
Keep in mind that Tokyopop’s ebooks are OEL only.
What material bumps content from one age range to another?

Brigid tries to avoid assigning her own ratings in favor of describing content.
Need explanation of ratings in reviews, knowing content of book most important.
Will note if there is nudity always.
Think of intended audience too. If there’s a teen book like the GN, GN belongs in teen GN collection.

Resources for ESL students? – Students will read almost anything, look at stuff from Capstone, for easy vocab for new English readers.

Adaptations of classics – Snow not a big fan but a couple publishers that are ok, Papercutz and Classical Comics, also Self Made Hero – manga Shakespeare has not so great art but their Sherlock Holmes adaptations are nice.

Need to booktalk titles?
If you put the GN collection someplace visible, kids will find it. Give your graphic novel collection a chance to find readers.

Question about nonsuperhero genres, what should they buy for kids wanting romance and horror?
MANGA!!! Also look at smaller publishers like Oni, Top Shelf, First Second.

GNs for book clubs?
Smile, Bone, Rapunzels Revenge was wildly successful. Look for Good Comics for Kids book club posts.

Yearly Manga awards?

Not so much in this county. Plenty of Manga awards in Japan. Cybils too.
Comment – Look for comic book award almanac online for source lists.

Is demand for manga leveling out?

Smaller manga publishers have shut down, publishers cutting back. effect of scanlations might be causing this. Things may be leveling out but core of teen manga readers will always be reading, more titles coming out for adults. You need to keep collecting it, and get new volumes in to maintain interest? Are you continually adding new series?
Think of manga collection like a periodical collection, use standing orders to get new volumes.

Is manga interfiled with bigger GNs – Shelved all together or short books all together depending on shelving design already in library.

Crazy Amazon Sale

There’s something going on at Amazon, because the prices for many huge hardcover omnibus volumes have been slashed to $14 or $8.

If you head over to Bully, he’s put together a page that links to all the great deals.

It’ll be interesting to see if amazon honors the prices or cancels the orders if this is due to a data glitch. But it is worth a shot, if you want to pick up hundreds of pages of comics goodness for a tiny amount of money. I decided to try for some Ed Brubaker volumes, Invincible Volume 1, The Ultimates, and The Matt Fraction Iron Man Omnibus.

Great Graphic Novels for Teens

I wanted to do a mini-round up of things related to the GGNT list.

Graphic Novel Reporter has a roundtable discussion explaining the history behind the list.

Over at Good Comics for Kids, a discussion of some of the titles that made it onto the list.

I was happy to see that the title I nominated, Ken Saito’s Name of the Flower, made it on to the final list. Librarians do use lists like these when making decisions about what books they should order for their library. So if you are a comics or manga fan and feel like advocating for one of your favorite titles and you think it has teen appeal, I encourage you to nominate it next year.