This morning I opened my last box of Frankenberry. Monster cereals only come out around Halloween, and so I stock up. As I munched on the sweet little marshmallows, it was a sign that Spring and Summer would soon be here, and soon enough in the Fall would I be reunited with my monster cereal goodness once again. However, Spring time blooming (unless you live in Buffalo, NY- it is still snowing here) does bring new things like a slew of brand-new comics and things to observe. You’re here to find out what you should read and watch. You’re here to read From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays.
In brief, I have to give a quick spotlight to IDW’s new Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters comic book (faithful readers of this column know my love for the giant monster). The first issue sold out nationwide in its first week, and a second printing with a new cover by Alex Ross will be coming to stands soon! Good to see Godzilla back in comics and stomping up a storm!
Out On Stands: HAPPINESS IS A WARM BLANKET, CHARLIE BROWN
Publisher: Kaboom! (Boom! Comics)
You know the saying “Sometimes you don’t realize what you missed until it’s gone”? This is it right here. Boom’s new all-ages line Kaboom! launched this week with the amazing graphic novel Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown. The graphic novel, based off the animated special of the same name which was released on DVD this week as well, captures everything we miss and love about the Peanuts comic strip that ended back in 1999. Any Charlie Brown fan nervous at someone taking a new swipe at the Peanuts crew since Charles Schultz’s passing can heave a sigh of relief and cry a tear of joy, as page after page the team at Kaboom! brings us a graphic novel perfectly honoring every beat and breath of the original comic strips themselves. Needless to say, I was overly impressed at how perfectly this fit in with the body of work from the late comic creator.
The plot follows the countdown given to Linus to lose his blanket when his Grandmother comes to visit in seven days, who has stated that he is too old and doesn’t want to see him with it. Linus, not being able to separate himself, tries everything to go cold turkey from his beloved piece of cloth, but when his blanket really goes missing, after Lucy turns it into a kite and it blows away, what will a kid do?
Page after page of this graphic novel, I smiled and laughed; flowing like the comic strips and TV specials before, not a thing was out of place. It was greater than great to see the Peanuts gang back in action and in print once again. Hopefully Kaboom! will consider doing an ongoing Peanuts series, fingers crossed. The story is by Craig Schultz and Stephan Pastis, based off work by Charles Schultz, and the art is by Bob Scott, Vicki Scott, and Ron Zorman, all who did an amazing job honoring the original strips. Three cheers Kaboom!, you couldn’t have asked for a better launch for your new line.
Out On Stands: POKEMON: ARCEUS AND THE JEWEL OF LIFE
Publisher: Viz Kids (Viz Media)
Story and Art: Makoto Mizobuchi
There was this point when suddenly here in the states we were invaded by Pokemon, then Digimon, then Monster Rancher, then Yu-Gi-Oh, and so on and so on. However, despite some critical bashing of this wave of Japanese animation and comics of mass-monster-marketing that hit our shores, this reviewer here loved it. It helped make anime more accessible here in the United States, increased awareness and increased the amount of titles that came over. Aside from the obvious good for the industry when it hit here (although American animated shows, like those from Warner Brothers Animation, would greatly suffer in the shadow of this new animated wave from Japan), it was pretty awesome. Who didn’t want to see all sorts of wacky monsters kicking the crap out of each other? With the new video games Pokemon Black and Pokemon White selling like hot cakes, the franchise is still going strong and is still pretty rockin’. This month Viz Kids releases the new manga graphic novel Pokemon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life, which is based off the twelfth Pokemon film.
The manga tells the story of Ash, Pikachu, and the gang reaching the land of Michina (which is like Greece). Long ago the ancient pokemon Arceus was betrayed and his jewel of life was stolen. For years, Arceus has waited to recharge and exact its revenge, and now is the time! A battle of ancient pokemon takes palce, with Ash and the gang caught in the middle, and finally also being swept up and transported back in time to ancient Michina to see if they can stop this from happening!
This is a pretty solid comic. The artwork is good and the pokemon battles are fun. Story wise it is one of the more interesting Pokemon stories, a combination of semi-revenge and semi-time travel fun. In typical Pokemon-adventure style, we know how the ending is going to turn out, but that’s OK, because we are given a fun tale and everything we could want out of a Pokemon comic. Some of Makoto Mizobuchi’s page layouts are just great visually, and so your eyes zip across the pages. Also, you don’t need to know anything about Pokemon to pick it up and enjoy; the comic stands on its own and pretty much explains everything you need as the comic unfolds. It’s good to see Pokemon is still holding strong after all this time. Out on stands now.
Last week, as Easter is this month, we started taking a look at Rankin/Bass’s body of Easter specials with The First Easter Rabbit. Rankin/Bass had a huge impact on comic culture, producing an array of things from Thundercats to King Kong Escapes to even The Last Unicorn. This week we look at The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ To Town.
Made in 1977, this television special in a way is the follow up to their Christmas special Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town. In this one, Fred Astaire returned to voice mailman S.D. Kluger (even making references to his put mobile from the Christmas special), but this time the mail he’s been seeing isn’t a dozen questions about Claus, but about the origins of the Easter Bunny, and so he tells us the tale about the origin of the Easter Bunny.
The story takes place in Kidville, a town populated only by children with no parents. The leaders in Kidville find a baby bunny without any parents as well, that they name Sunny. Sunny grows up fast and is incredibly smart, and even talks and wants to help expand Kidville. The closest town is over the great mountain, guarded by Gadzooks the bear. Even if they can get past Gadzooks, the next town is called (non-creatively) Town. Town is ruled by a child king named Bruce, whose wicked Aunt pulls all strings in the shadows, including a law that outlaws all children from the town. However, when Sunny shows up, things begin to change and an adventure unfolds.
The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ To Town is a good time, although personally it’s my least favorite out of their Easter specials. This is due to the plot being pretty interchangeable with Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town. Swipe Winter Warlock for Gadzooks, Sombertown for Town, etc. However, this formula-sin aside, the special’s strength lays in the writing and songs of Romeo Muller (who did some of the best all-time Rankin/Bass work), and the gorgeous colorful claymation, done by Animagic in Japan, by stop motion animation master Tad Mochinaga. And the best part of the special is Gadzooks the bear; we cannot deny he is one of the coolest claymation characters to ever roll out of Rankin/Bass’s creative output. Your something to watch this weekend, which is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face in the household, is The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ To Town!
That’s it for this week, see you next and remember, Mecha-King Ghidorah loves you!
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A copy of POKEMON: ARCEUS AND THE JEWEL OF LIFE was provided by the publisher for review.