IoM is typically adult fare. We cuss, we review horror movies and violent comic books. But, in all actuality, we wouldn’t be the sick beings we are if it wasn’t for some family-friendly comic book or TV show or movie that got us into the fold to begin with. For Aron, it was Disney’s Scamp. For me, it was any number of titles – Heathcliff, Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham, etc.
But what do the kids have nowadays? Despite some of the bigwigs emphasizing more adult storylines in their regular universes – Blackest Night, Dark Reign, etc., there are a good number of fantastic all-ages titles out there that don’t get the sales that something like New Avengers does, but have spectacular art and writing and truly are titles that you and your kids can enjoy. It’s not like when you take them to see Madagascar and they enjoy the movie, and you enjoy the innuendo – these are truly all-ages titles with emotional storylines, that don’t speak down to children, or have hidden dirty jokes for adults. Books like Bone, Amulet, and Jellaby.
While I’m sure nothing will ever compare to the mastery of storytelling in Jeff Smith’s Bone, Kean Soo’s Jellaby is the perfect book to introduce your child to graphic storytelling, or even storytelling in general. Don’t have a kid? Buy the book anyway! It’s THAT good. I don’t think I’ve ever met a single person (I’m sure someone will prove me wrong) that didn’t like Bill Waterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. Imagine Calvin and Hobbes wasn’t just a comic strip, but an actual ongoing tale – that Hobbes was real, but didn’t know where he came from, so Calvin and he ventured out to discover how to get him back home. While I have to compare Jellaby to something else, in feel, it’s similar to a long form Calvin and Hobbes, but with some excellent villains (the main baddies are very creepy) and an actual story thread, rather than comic strip storytelling.
Read more about Jellaby, and how you can get a taste of the book for FREE after the jump!
Portia is having trouble dealing with the fact that her dad is no longer with them – it’s never explicity cleared up if he’s dead or he just left, but either way, she’s having a hard time with it. She avoids confrontation at school, noticing a young boy named Jason getting beat up by some bullies and avoiding eye contact so she doesn’t have to help. That night, she has a nightmare about a man in a cloak, wearing a white mask, a long snake wrapped around him that curls around her. She wakes up and looks outside to see something walking through the woods next to her house. Running from the house and venturing into the woods, she finds Jellaby, a large purple monster. But he’s not scary. In fact, he’s almost crying, confused and lost. Does she run away at the site of the large, purple creature? Nope. In fact, she brings him inside and makes him a sandwich.
It isn’t long before they’re getting into trouble, as Jellaby insists she helps Jason fight off the bullies. An act which directly leads to Jason finding out about Jellaby and the three, ultimately, decide to try and help Jellaby find his way home. The problem is that it requires a train ride and a trip to a Halloween Festival in the middle of a big city. None of which seems like a good idea for a giant purple monster.
Though I compared it to Calvin and Hobbes earlier, from its first panel to its heartwarming end in book two (Monster in the City), Jellaby is a unique, fantastic storyline. The first appearance of Jellaby is enough to warm your heart to the character immediately. Portia and Jason are hilarious and will have you on the verge of tears in some scenes, laughing out loud at others (I defy you to not laugh out loud when Jason sees Jellaby for the first time). The storyline goes to some pretty dark places, and the characters all have emotional scenes that let you into their characters in a way that sometimes I don’t even see in all-ages novels. I could list off all of the amazing scenes in the book, but, at a mere $10 a piece, you owe it to yourself to pick up both Jellaby and Jellaby: Monster in the City from your local book store.
Want a taste of Jellaby for free to see if it’s up your alley? Well, leave it to us at IoM to hook you up! Below, courtesy of the official site (where you can see many more tales of Jellaby that are more in the style of comic strips, than in the overarching story you’ll see in the books), we have a tale called “First Snow!” which you can also see here.
In addition to that, this Saturday you can go into any comic book store and pick up Comics Festival 2009, which will feature two Jellaby stories — an all-new 3-page Jellaby story, and the first print edition of “The Birthday Card!