Monster High: Hopes and Screams: An Original Graphic Novel

Score: lemon_1small lemon_2small lemon_3small out of 5 lemons

Starting as a paranormal-inspired fashion doll franchise,Monster High has exploded into a collection of goods from toys, animated online shorts, films and television shows, video games, books, and now–an original graphic novel. Fans of the series will enjoy this full-colored spin on the unique monster dolls as they are brought to life via comic in a spooktacular telling. This graphic novel stars several characters from the series, such as Frankie Stein, Clawdeen Wolf, Draculaura, Cleo de Nile, Deuce Gorgon, Lagoona Blue, Abbey Bominable, and Ghoulia.

Full of original, goofy puns, chapters of the graphic novel focus on a specific characters. Within these chapters, the stylish characters navigate through Monster High, proving that even though they are monsters, they can still relate to the average teenager. Cleo has boyfriend troubles, Draculaura tries to manage everything at once, and Abbey tries to reconcile a friendship conflict. They value their friendships, help each other out, and reach for their hopes and screams.

With complete exaggeration to the teenage figure, these dolls convey a scary message. If these monsters are more normal than they appear, are they to resemble the normal teenager with their big hair, eyes, and lips, caked make-up, and unhealthy tiny waist? Is this a standard to look up to? Is this some sort of subliminal message? These character designs can be chalked up as pure fantasy, but they may carry a larger impression on young readers. Don’t blame the artist – the doll was created that way!

I found this read to be enjoyable and recommended for younger readers, from preteens to early young adults. The composition of the full-colored pages is carefully constructed, and I enjoyed the “behind the scenes” pages at the end. Fans of the franchise will like this. However, it lacks any substance, and attempts to be trendy and fashionable than deep. The comic is basic with one-dimensional characters, predictable stories, and unnerving underlying messages. Three of five lemons.

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Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists

Score: lemon_1small lemon_2small lemon_3small lemon_4small lemon_5small out of 5

61I9UGXa2PL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Seventeen classic fairy tales are envisioned by a host of talented artists in this comic book compilation. All of the tales are illustrated utilizing unique techniques aligned with the exceptional artist’s style. Many of these artists have been nominated and/or received literary and art awards for their work. Some tales are adapted and retold with clever and fun division from the original recordings. Most of the original content is maintained in this child-friendly retelling. Even gruesome bits of the stories are expressed appropriately to maintain a suitable tone for young readers. Honestly, I appreciate the adaptations, due to some questionable, dark, and wicked elements of the originals that were first intended for adults.

20141230_105414Tales and Artists:

When a book compiles a series of comics from outstanding artists, it can only be a treat! The variation between comics delights readers with its stunning arrangements, colors, dialogue, and sometimes wordless narrations. To highlight some names, Brett Helquist, illustrator for many books like A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, creates a beautiful rendition of Rumpelstiltskin with its realistic characters, clear composition, and straightforward dialogue. (Though, I would love to insert a strong comment on the treatment of women in fairy tales.) Raina Telgemeier, author of the three graphic novels Smile, Drama, and Sisters, designs an amusing telling of Rapunzel with the heroine saving the prince and escaping from her tower prison. I very much enjoyed the work of Luke Pearson, cartoonist of the all-ages Hilda comic serieswho illustrates The Boy Who Drew Cats comic from the Japanese tale as told by Lafcadio Hearn. I had never heard this tale before and adored the humor, artistic style, panel arrangement, and surprise ending. Another favorite of mine is The Prince and the Tortoise, adapted from the 1001 Nights tale as told by Jean-Charles Mardrus, and illustated by Ramona Fradon, script by Chris Duffy, colors by James Campbell, and letters by Jack Morelli. This superstar collaboration envisioned and organized a humorous and complete story of three sons who marry due to the fate and a young son and tortoise who teach an important lesson about the nature of beauty and judging by appearances. At the end of the book, a bit of information and background is given about the contributors. I would have liked to know more about their artistic style and choices in creating the comics for the book.

The tales in this compilation are a blend of well-known tales from Brothers Grimm, recognizable stories, non-European tales, and male and female protagonists. The original tales may or may not be known to children, who may not be able to note deviations in these adaptions. This is a wonderful introduction to fairy tales through an accessible media form, which will be appreciated by children and intermediate readers. The comic form allows children to discover a story by deciphering the words and images while familiarizing themselves with elements of the traditional fairy tales.

In addition, I highly appreciate the editor’s note from Chris Duffy at the end of the book, which explains the selection of tales and includes a minor bibliography. I will link the electronic resources on this blog post:

  • gutenberg.org
    Project Gutenberg offers an extensive online collection of copyright-free works, including some fairy tale books. Try searching for the phrase “fairy tale” and the country or region of origin.
  • surlalunefairytales.com
    SurLaLune Fairytales is an online fairy tale resources, offering many of the classics.
  • pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html
    Curated by D. L. Ashliman, the Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts compile folklore and fairy tales from all of the world.

lemonade-308970_640Because of the perfect score, this book earns a big cup of LEMONADE! This is a successful comic compilation from brilliant artists powerfully capturing the elements of the original tales and transforming them into an accessible book for children and intermediate readers. I recommend this book for your home or library book shelves.