Toon Books Wave 2: Mo & Jo, Jack and the Box, Stinky
I covered the first wave of Toon Books earlier this year. Now, the second wave of books are out, and here’s what I thought. As before, they’re each $12.95 US for 32-40 pages, hardcover, aimed at grades K-2.
Mo and Jo Fighting Together Forever
written by Jay Lynch; art by Dean Haspiel
Hilarious! Mona and Joey are squabbling siblings. Through an elegantly quick turn of events, they wind up with a super-suit that they split in half, because they sure can’t share. He gets magnetic boots; she gets stretchy arms. (An homage to Plastic Man, I’m sure, since Lynch acknowledges his inspiration in his author’s note.)
All this happens so fast that it reminds me of a classic Silver Age comic, eager to get the reader through the setup so more action happens sooner. I like the approach, especially since pages are limited and the origin isn’t really important anyway. Of course, the message is that they can accomplish more as a team.
Haspiel’s art is perfectly suited to this story — it’s solid and easy to read but energetic and capable of capturing the superheroics as well. The two sound like kids, and they even look alike! This is a great comic for kids, especially those who dream of being superheroes (and who doesn’t?). I hope there will be more with Mo and Jo.
Jack and the Box
by Art Spiegelman
The rabbit boy Jack gets a box full of imagination. At first, his jack-in-the-box scares him, but soon he’s conversing with it — and a contradictory toy it is, too.
I took the most from seeing the rabbit’s frustration, fear, and enjoyment in various combinations. (There are different encounters, almost like a set of strips instead of just one story.) It shouldn’t surprise anyone that a master of Spiegelman’s experience can show a variety of expressions even with simple line characters. But there’s wordplay, as well, which would make reading this out loud fun.
It all spirals out crazily before returning normality. A lovely bedtime read.
by Eleanor Davis
Stinky is a monster who lives in a swamp, only eats pickled foods, and lives up to his name. He doesn’t like kids, because they take baths, and his pet frog is named Wartbelly — how appropriate. Then a new kid builds a tree house near the swamp. Stinky wants to scare him off, but the kid likes dirt and frogs, and Stinky isn’t as big a monster as he seems.
The images are round and welcoming. It’s clear Stinky is a monster, with smell lines and flies radiating from him (where else could you do this but comics?), but he’s still cute. You can see the message coming a mile away, but it’s comforting when it arrives.
I found this set of releases more entertaining than the first one, which bodes well for the line’s future. I’m excited to see what comes out from them next year. Find out more at the publisher’s website.