The webcomics blog about webcomics

A :01 Two-Fer

This bit about pushing all non-:01 Books content to the side becomes a bit hard when there’s something as significant as the announcement that SPX and Nickelodeon are partnering up for animation pitches¹. We’ll leave my thoughts for the footnotes.

In the meantime, we have two (two!) books to discuss today, in the form of Ben Hatke’s Little Robot, and the anthology Fable Comics. Unsurprisingly, they are both highly suitable for the younger reader (perhaps listener) in your life.

Little Robot is a bit of a departure for Hatke; it’s not the rolicking adventure story of Zita the Spacegirl, nor the almost entirely sweet Julia’s House For Lost Creatures. Little Robot occupies a middle position between the two — incorporating the lush illustrations and storybook nature of Julia’s, but getting into the more melancholy themes of the Zita books. This is particularly impressive because Little Robot features a pair of protagonists who don’t get names.

There’s a girl, and she lives a life without luxury (not deprivation, but pretty low on the socioeconomic scale); she doesn’t have friends her age around, but she has the wild woods (based on Hatke’s own Shenandoah Valley home) to explore and a junkyard of stuff to mess with and a bag of tools for repairs. She’s young, she’s solitary, she’s barefoot and poor, but she ain’t stupid.

There’s a robot, lost from where he was supposed to be; we don’t know entirely what his designation or purpose are, but when he goes missing his masters are pretty quick to send out some big hardware to find him, trampling over anything in the way.

The girl and the robot become friends, but a bit haltingly — neither has much experience with it — and it’s a friendship that’s punctuated by jealousy and possessiveness and jerkish behavior. In other words, a perfect representation of how a young child would act in uncertain circumstances; our characters are no angels, and no matter how much they want to be good friends, they aren’t entirely certain what that means.

Angry fight followed by rejection or not, when your friend gets snatched up by a giant robot and whisked away to who-knows-what, you grab your favorite wrench and head out to mess stuff up. It’s a neat journey about finding friends, making (literally) friends, and being overwhelmed by friends. There’s a bit of betrayal and darkness in the middle, and it ends up in a good place because girl and robot work for it to. Kudos to Hatke for not hiding the tougher aspects of friendship, and for giving us a (female, poor, rural, brown) POV character that’s demographically unlike the audience that many books get pitched to.

Fable Comics is the third Chris Duffy-edited collection of the world’s best cartoonists tacking some of the world’s best-loved stories; like Nursery Rhyme Comics and Fairy Tale Comics before it, Fable Comics splits its contents between stories likely familiar to its audience (lot of Aesop here) and stories that are likely new (there are Chinese and Angolan and Native American fables, and stories taken from the Panchatantra and the satires of Ivan Krylov and Ambrose Bierce).

Standouts include a very James Kochalka take on the story of the Fox and the Gapes, Sophie Goldstein’s take on a hungry leopard and clever deer, R Sikoryak telling the story of the lion and the mouse by way of Krazy Kat, and a series of short pieces by George O’Connor tied together by the presence of Hermes (who he hasn’t gotten around to yet in his excellent Olympians series).

Honestly, though, every piece has art that suits the story, an intact lesson, and the clever (and stupid, and generous, and wise, and venal, and hubristic, and greedy, and, and, and …) animals that have captured our imaginations for millenia. Perfect for reading a story or two at bedtime for a week or two.

Little Robot releases 1 September; Fable Comics three weeks later on 22 September — plenty of time to brush up on your animal and robot voices for when you read them to the kid(s) in your life. As always, we at Fleen thank Gina Gagliano and everybody at :01 for the review copies.

Spam of the day:

A good trained locksmith could easily put in a CCTV plus suggest you the most effective options available inside market

I put a Post-It note scrap over the webcam on my laptops; you think I’m putting CCTV cameras in my house? Not a chance.

¹ In which I find it odd that no mention of the pairing appears on the SPX website yet. There was a good back-and-forth on the pros and cons between the Twitter accounts of Meredith Gran and Christopher Butcher that you should go look at.

Please note the past tense of the conversation; both Gran and Butcher said what they felt was important, and I doubt neither is interested in reopening things, so please do not read two tweets, decide that somebody is wrong on the internet and get all foamy at the mouth.

But Gary, doesn’t this imply that you think that Butcher and Gran are smarter than we are and we should just shut up and let the grown-ups talk?

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