SPOTLIGHT on The Dreamland Chronicles

I’m a sucker for The Dreamland Chronicles, I’ll admit it.

I love that it is a big, epic fantasy. I love that it has a lot of fun, interesting characters. I love that it takes the time to have some of those quiet character moments. I love that Scott Christian Sava has been able to actually produce 1000 pages of material in his story, in a world where many creators just give up around page 10. I love that he has, like, tens or hundreds of thousands of readers.

But I just discovered something that, to be honest, was there for a long time but I’d never noticed before, that makes The Dreamland Chronicles even more fun.

The first is this introduction to The Dreamland Chronicles, a short comic that acts as an introduction to the website and all the little features that the website has. The most important feature, to me? Found on page five of the introduction, there is a look at the bookmark. For a story as long as Dreamland Chronicles, this is an awesome feature to have, and one that makes tackling such a hefty amount of story a much less intimidating task. If length was a reason you didn’t want to get into The Dreamland Chronicles, you no longer have that excuse.

The second is this awesome “comic-mentary”, a documentary styled series of about a dozen pages that get into the creation of The Dreamland Chronicles. “Bringing Dreamland to Life” shows, in broad strokes, the steps of the process that Sava and his team go through to create The Dreamland Chronicles. It’s interesting and fun to see.

These two little treasures from the Dreamland website supplement things nicely, but really they’re just a small part of the reason you should be reading this comic. “The Chronicles of Narnia if done by Pixar as a comic” is a great way to describe The Dreamland Chronicles, and the story, characters, and art are the reasons you should be reading it.

Fraggle Rock and Word Girl

At the local comic shop today, I was talking with the owners about the lack of all ages comics out there. The conversation started as we were discussing the cancellation of Static Shock by DC Comics, which COULD have been an all ages book but instead was geared toward (my theory) the people who watched the series when they were kids and are now older. One of the new titles replacing Static Shock is Dial H for Hero, which COULD be an all ages book but is instead a sci-fi horror type of thing (judging from the cover and the series description from the editor). (This led into my rant about “if I were writing Dial H for Hero, here’s how I would do it” which is a silly exercise at best, but for a geek writer, I’ve got to have some fun, right? Also, next to Aquaman and Captain Canuck, Dial H for Hero is officially one of the characters I want to write someday.)

Don’t get me wrong. I do not believe that all comics MUST be all ages. I enjoy well told stories about grown up things. But looking at all of DC Comics’ new 52 titles, none of them are meant for an all ages audience. Maybe that’s okay. But the owners of the shop would like to see more all ages book as well — but “publishers don’t think they sell well enough”. And maybe they don’t.

Of course, we had this conversation while I had two all ages comics in the plastic “Thank You for Shopping” bag. In the middle of the store that PUBLISHED one of my all ages comics.

Maybe “all ages” is not the best description for Wordgirl (kaboom!). Based on the PBS series, a series that my children love, this small graphic novel does what the TV show does. Teaches the meaning of new words using a goofy action/adventure story. It’s charming, witty, and stylistic. But to call it “all ages” would probably be a misnomer — I don’t think anyone older than the age of ten would get into it.

Because I consider a book to be “all ages” if it is meant to appeal to all ages. It may have elements that skew one way or another, but essentially it will (at best) entertain or (at worst) hold the attention of younger readers and adults.

Wordgirl held my attention, with its style and its clever writing, but I don’t know how many other adults would feel that way. However, I can’t recommend it enough for younger readers. My seven year old daughter was very excited to see it and read it.

Meanwhile, there’s Fraggle Rock Classic (Archaia). Unlike Archaia’s two earlier volumes (yet another title I’d LOVE to be working on) which were essentially an awesome anthology of indy creators, but an anthology set in the Fraggle world, this book reprints the first four issues of the old 1985 Marvel Fraggle Rock from Star Comics (Marvel’s kid comic imprint). It’s written by Stan Kay with art by Marie Severin.

This one, to me, really is all ages. Especially if you are a fan of Jim Henson and the Fraggles. The newer material Archaia has put out is probably of a higher quality, but both my children and I enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to getting volume two (which I believe will have the rest of the series, issues 5 through 8).


Webcomic Wednesday: KJ Kolkas “The Cardinal”


K.J. Kolka has been doing his series “The Cardinal” for twenty years.

The first round of his Cardinal stories started in 1990, with a comic strip that was very reminiscent of classic comic strips like Dick Tracy, Annie, and other newspaper adventure strips. His other major influence in crafting the stories was the Marvel stories from the ’60′s. Anyone who reads The Cardinal will not be surprised to find that Kolka is a big fan of the classic Ant-Man and Avengers and other Marvel series from that era. The final inspiration for Kolka was his faith. Kolka’s Christianity played a huge part in developing the storylines and characters for The Cardinal.

That chapter of The Cardinal closed in 2006, when Kolka decided to change the focus and style of The Cardinal, tweaking it for a more modern audience. In November, 2007, The Cardinal reappeared, this time online on the Comics Sherpa website. Every week since then, Kolka has presented a new strip every Sunday. Both the storytelling and the artwork are more “modern” looking, but Kolka’s faith is still very present in his new series.

The Cardinal series can be found here. If you want to read from the beginning of that series, click here. The new The Cardinal series is self-contained, as Kolka planned for it to be a relaunch or a reboot of the character. It’s a fun series, and the current storyarc is one of Kolka’s best stories ever.

K.J. Kolka is a dedicated and talented comic creator, who has been working on a single character for two decades, and that’s why we’re proud to focus on him in our Spotlight.

K.J. Kolka’s The Cardinal

Age range: all ages

Rating: ten beaks up!

Fall on Me

Fall on Me, by Adriana Blake

Last week, we focused on an epic fantasy story. This week, we’ve got something a little more down to earth.

Fall on Me, by Adriana Blake, is a light hearted, spirited comic about married life. It’s an autobiographical slice of life comic, and this would be a problem if the people whose lives the strips were sliced from were boring or annoying. Fortunately, this is not the case. Adriana does a great job of portraying sweet sentiments and gentle humor, and her art style fits perfectly.

And it doesn’t hurt that Adriana and her husband seem to be pretty cool geeks.

Three of our favorite strips:

Age range: Mostly all ages, because the subject matter probably won’t appeal to all ages

Rating: Ten tea cups up!

Ratfist a new webcomic by Doug TenNapel

Doug TenNapel is one of the most original and most talented comic book artist/writers/creators out there. Bar none. If he creates a comic story (or a story in any other medium, really) he goes all out, creating energetic, ridiculous, powerful, unique, moving, and stimulating characters, plots, and visuals.

Is it obvious that we’re fans?

So today, we at opened our portal into the Twitterverse and discovered some people tweeting about a new webcomic from TenNapel, which seems to be a superhero story called Ratfist.

Really, all we needed to get excited was “new” and “TenNapel” in the same sentence.

But let’s add to that, and multiply the excitement. “Webcomic” — free, online, regularly updated. “Superhero” — a genre that should be a lot of fun to see TenNapel explore — and from the single page that has been posted so far, he seems to be ready to explore the tropes and conceits of costumed vigilantes in his trademark off-kilter way. “Ratfist” — obviously, this isn’t mainstream Marvel or DC, and at the same time I can’t help feeling this story just might be ABOUT mainstream Marvel and DC.

One page has been posted. Normally, we at would wait a bit to promote an online comic, because there’s always a chance it’s not going to last more than a couple pages. But in this case, we just HAD to get word out.

So, no ratings (or “rattings”) or anything like that right now. This isn’t a review, there’s only one page up. It’s an awesome page . . . but it’s alone. We’ll save reviewing or whatever for later. For now, here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor . . . to start at the beginning of what promises to be a simply awesome online comic. Click below and see for yourself:

Ratfist by Doug TenNapel

Ratfist Copyright © Doug TenNapel.