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graphic novels

I’m Not Crying…

Here’s a graphic novel to tug at your heart: Missing You, written by Phellip Willian and illustrated by Melissa Garabeli. “Following the loss of their mother, Thomas and Lara find an injured deer on the side of the road. Deciding to bring it home with them, they name the deer Lion and quickly become best friends. The new woodland creature soon fills their hearts with warmth and fun, easing their mourning. But when Lion grows more and more curious about the forest beyond their house, Thomas and Lara start to wonder if the forest is where Lion truly belongs. Will they be able to say goodbye to their new friend?” You can find out now — in this trade paperback edition from Oni Press.


image c. 2024 Oni Press

Meow and Now

And speaking of web-based comics coming to book form… Cat & Cat Adventures is a series written and illustrated by Susie Yi from Orange County, California. (Hi neighbor!) “Cat & Cat comics is a cozy, funny, and relatable comic series about more than just cats. Set in a world where pets and humans co-exist in a symbiotic relationship (much like the world we live in today!), Suzy is a human that can understand the mysterious language of cat-speak! Cat & Cat comics dives into the every day interactions between Suzy and her cats, but also the mysterious and magical scenarios that the cats encounter as well. From pancakes growing fluffier upon command to dogs being summoned out of a magical book, these comics are sure to surprise and pull you in for a sweet treat!” Find it on line, and look for the graphic novel series as well.


image c. 2024 by Susie Yi

They Colored Their World

Leslie Stratton is a Hollywood actress who has appeared in several movies and TV episodes. During COVID lock-down she remembered her mother’s love of pandas, and sat down to write a book based on that. The result was Let’s Share, Panda Bear, illustrated by Zuzana Svobodova.Have you ever wondered why panda bears are black-and-white? Panda Pete, an incredibly kind panda, discovers a magical way to share colors with his animal friends. As the forest transforms into a vibrant rainbow, each creature joyously embraces their unique shades. Yet, in a touching twist, Pete and Jack learn that being black-and-white has its own special magic.” The web site has all the colorful details!


image c. 2024 Little Freckles Publications

Heart To Spare

We met writer and illustrator Cherie Okonski at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, and she introduced us to her creation, Gumper the Rabbit. Here’s the description of her first book: “The Secret of Gumper the Rabbit is a story about a bunny who is born different from the other rabbits. Gumper’s best friend Oink, an easily frazzled guinea pig, helps him to use his differences to save the day at the pet store. Gumper learns many new lessons about being different while discovering a secret that is taught to all bunnies.” Here’s part of the secret: Proceeds from the sale of this and other Gumper the Rabbit books go to help children born with congenital heart disease. The official Gumper web site has more, including links to the YouTube channel. (There’s a fursuit!)


image c. 2024 Xulon Press

Sing From Your Heart

Turns out yesterday’s entry wasn’t the only peacock-centric illustrated book we found at the L.A. Times Festival of Books. Peacocks are known for their beautiful feathers, not for their beautiful voices — but what if there was a peacock who actually could sing? What would their fellows think about it? That’s the premise of The Unique Beak, written by singer/songwriter Estani Frizzell and illustrated in watercolor by Sophia Frizzell. “Sai is a kind young peacock who lives with his royal family. He has brilliant blue tail feathers that any regal peacock would be proud of — and Sai loves to sing! But his family laughs at that idea, and at him! They say his beak is too big while making fun of his singing voice. Saddened by their ridicule, Sai finally vows never to sing in front of anyone again! He hides himself away and doubts his dreams. Will he take their criticism to heart? Will he give up? Estani Frizzell’s spirited and unique story shows children how just one special friend’s support can make a difference in carrying us where our talents are meant to take us.” Available now from Greenleaf Book Group.


image c. 2024 Greenleaf Book Group

Do You Speak Not You?

At WonderCon we met Josh Oaktree, the founder of Oak Tree Comics. Their mission is simple, and stated right on the front page of their web site: “A children’s book publisher where imagination meets environmentalism”. To that end they created the Art and Oakie Ask series of illustrated graphic novels for young readers, featuring the wordless adventures of young Art and their friend Oakie the ambulatory oak tree. In Do You Speak Tree?, Oakie tries to speak up for his forest home — but he only speaks “tree”, and no one understands. Perhaps Art and their crayon skills can help out? This was followed by Do You Speak Bear? and, most recently, Do You Speak Bee? Oak Tree also features a nature-themed fantasy comic series called Thorn the Unicorn, and a very unusual picture book called The Weird Animal Hour, which we’ll leave to them to explain.


image c. 2024 Oak Tree Comics

If You Build It…

Stuart Ng Books always have a fascinating booth at any number of fannish conventions. At WonderCon, they introduced us to Paisley Rabbit and the Treehouse Contest, an illustrated book for children that came out in 2018 from writer Steve Richardson and illustrator Chris Dunn. “Can a lone girl rabbit with all the odds stacked against her actually surprise boastful Jimmy Squirrel to win the big tree house construction contest? It is the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year, Jimmy Squirrel, whose dad owns the biggest construction company in the city, agrees to a tree house contest. To everyone”s surprise, Paisley Rabbit, who has never touched a hammer or a nail and has no one to help her, is a long shot to win. But the imaginative and determined Paisley, demonstrates her resourcefulness and strategic planning abilities that eventually amazes her friends and silences the smug Jimmy Squirrel.” The book is available now in hardcover. Check out the preview pictures — the artwork is gorgeous. Interesting note: Chris Dunn also illustrated an edition of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. We’ll have to look it up.


image c. 2024 Impossible Dreams

The Trickster Without Scruples

Sometimes, the publisher explains things perfectly well for us. Like this: “In this atmospheric tribute to the medieval folklore tradition of trickster tales starring Reynard the fox, beloved children’s cartoonist Ben Hatke turns his pen to a very special project for adult readers. Inspired by the 12th century tales of the indomitable trickster fox Reynard, this offbeat tribute to the archetypal rogue has a satisfyingly old-fashioned feeling to it. Although this Reynard adventure is entirely the creation of modern fairytale master Ben Hatke (Mighty Jack), it fits seamlessly into the body of Reynard tales still beloved in Europe to this day. Featuring evocative, charming black-and-white illustrations and a swiftly moving narrative, Reynard’s Tale follows our hero through a series of encounters with other classic figures from this body of folklore to piece together a headlong journey through a perilous landscape filled with murderers, kings, ex-lovers, mermaids, and even Death herself.” So there you have it. And it’s available now.


image c. 2024 First Second

I Want A Monster To Be My Playmate

Something delightful from Clarion Books: The Pebble and Wren graphic novel. “A little girl and her live-in monster learn about what makes them different — and what unites them. This graphic novel is a silly, sweet, and sometimes gross tribute to friendship, and to the wacky world we live in. Based on his webcomic of the same name, Pebble and Wren by Chris Hallbeck follows human girl Wren and her live-in monster, Pebble, as she teaches them all about how the human world works — from why the moon changes shape to why we don’t eat candy wrappers — while trying to unlock special abilities without which Pebble will have to return to the monster forest.” Find out what happens next.


image c. 2024 Clarion Books

Winking and Blinking

Wizkit is the name of a new graphic novel for young readers, written and illustrated by Tanya J. Scott. The publisher describes it as Hilda and the Troll meets The Okay Witch. “It’s a wild, enchanted, wonderful world out there, way beyond the fjord that a one-eyed cat named Wizkit calls home. But Wizkit wouldn’t know anything about that—as a Wizard’s apprentice, all her lessons are indoors, and she’s far too lazy to go out exploring. There’s no need to—she already knows enough spells to conjure up delicious snacks whenever she’s hungry! But when an overdue library book literally cries out to be returned, Wizkit’s Teacher decides she must be the one to take it back. Reluctantly (and rather accidentally), the journey to the Library begins. With the annoyingly optimistic Book in tow, Wizkit sets off on an adventure that is full of strange characters with even stranger problems. Wizkit will soon find out that, with a little support and a new friendship, her own magical talents can be part of the solution.” You can find out more from Simon & Schuster.


image c. 2024 Simon & Schuster

We Did It Before…

Well here’s a team we’ve heard about previously. Sean Patrick O’Reilly is head of Arcana Studios, and David Alvarez is a popular comic artist. Their new creation is called Kotto Kotorra. The description is pretty darn simple: “The book follows Kotto, an average Puerto Rican who runs an empanadilla food truck. His daily life is always an adventure, thanks to his boisterous friends.” That hardly scratches the surface of this old-school “funny animal cartoon” comic. What’s more, it’s not just a graphic novel, but a game app as well!


image c. 2024 Arcana Studios

All Hale the Weirdness

Look, we couldn’t even hope to give you a better description of The Mighty Bite than this: “What happens when a couple of prehistoric creatures want to become Internet stars? Trilobite and Amber (a walking whale) dream of fame and fortune. They don’t realize that most of the world thinks that they’re extinct. When a wandering paleo-newscaster introduces them to the world of internet videos, they hop at the chance to get behind the camera. The competition for internet fame will be fierce—Trilobite and Amber will face off against ancient sea creatures, talking cacti, floating cat heads, and more! Friendships will be tested, allies will be made, and cameras will be smashed! Our heroes will have to use all of their newfound skills when they find themselves competing in an all-out video-making battle royale!” All of this thanks to popular cartoonist Nathan Hale. The Mighty Bite is available in hardcover from Amulet Books.


image c. 2024 Amulet Books

Yagi? Or Yaoi?

And more interesting and odd mangas we found… like Yagi the Bookshop Goat, written and illustrated by Fumi Furukawa. “In this tranquil world where all animals live in peace, carnivores and herbivores have an agreement to live amicably. Yagi is a goat who loves reading (and eating!) books; his dream is to become a bookstore clerk, but goats who eat paper aren’t exactly welcomed at places that sell books! But maybe he can charm Ookami, the scary wolf store manager into giving him a job…” That rather cute description doesn’t point out there are some (gentle) mature themes at play here, so be aware! This black & white graphic novel is available now from Tokyo Pop.


image c. 2024 Tokyo Pop

Hopper of Hops

Sometimes maybe the publisher isn’t the best at describing a work. Here’s what they have to say about the new graphic novel Spero: “Taking up a defensive home base within the city of Vurgstraad, a council of ancient sorcerers have spent the last hundred years fending themselves off from a barrage of attacks by The House of Bayek. While three generations of Bayek have tried to destroy Vurgstraad, a counter-weapon was born within the heart of the city. A weapon with the ability to recapture the hearts of those once condemned to evil. A weapon known as The Heartbreaker. Hidden deep within a mysterious crystallized universe, a secret race of caretakers have waited for this weapon to be claimed by The Chosen One. A hero said to be the sole champion capable of wielding it. The Breaker of Hearts. The Healer of Worlds.” And, by the way, a rabbit. Somehow they skipped that part. But we’ll tell you! We’ll also mention it’s written by Garrett Gunn, illustrated by Martha Webby, and available now.


image c. 2024 Source Point Press

Feline Bravery and Honor

Somehow we missed this new graphic novel, written and illustrated by Norwegian author Dina Norlund. “Syv is a snowcat and the youngest in a family of princes. When his father dies, Syv and his brothers are all in line for the throne. Eager to become kings themselves and wary of how well-liked Syv has become by the citizens, Syv’s brothers send him on a dangerous quest to find the long-lost magical crown that once belonged to their royal ancestor, the Eldking. Legend says that the snowcat who finds the crown will break the curse on their land and bring great honor to the family. But failure could mark Syv with three black stripes, and he’d be banished forever. Along his journey, Syv will face dangerous beasts, dark powers, and the ever-lurking sand foxes — sworn enemies to the snowcats. But when Syv discovers the truth about the legend of the Eldking and his magical crown, he’ll have to learn the new meaning of honor and find another way to break the curse.” The Snowcat Prince is available now from Oni Press.


image c. 2024 Oni Press