Monday, March 24, 2008

The Clouds Above: A Comic Review....Or Not

Article by Scott Tingley - March 24, 2008

This is not a comic. Comics don’t belong on this site, so that must mean that this book, The Clouds Above is not a comic book. Comic books belong on my other site…This is not a comic book. It has one illustration per page, meaning there are no panels, meaning this is not a comic.

So there.

…..Except, that in the Clouds Above, by Jordan Crane, the words that tell the story are encased by white bubbles that point at the speakers….Wait a minute! Those are word balloons! This is a comic book. There is no text along the bottom or top of the beautifully, Maurice Sendak-like illustrations, only word balloons. Tricked!! This is a comic.


Blast it!

Bear with me reader(s ??? is there anyone out there?), I’ve had this wonderful little hardcover on my shelf for well over a year, and every month or so I flip through it or maybe read it again, all the while wondering if I am ever going to find a hook that would allow me to write this piece. I knew when I started this kid’s book review site that I was one step closer to being able to do something with this book.

Clouds is an edgy little (its dimensions, not its page count. It is actually 208 pages long) book featuring Simon and his boy-sized pet cat, Jack. Think: Calvin and Hobbes meets Where the Wild Things Are.

On the way to school, Simon and his cat Jack take shortcuts that lead them through the kind of fantastic world that lurks just around the corner from reality and that only children believe exists. From

There is a fairly evil teacher, an odd bunch of classmates, a magic staircase, evil storm clouds, and a scene right out of The Birds. This book is kind of weird and kid-friendly, and dark. Kids like a bit of darkness in their literature. Everyone knows the thing about all of the big Disney movies featuring the loss of a main character’s parent, but even writers like Robert Munsch have a bit of an edge to them, if you look for it (Come on! Dad almost freezes to death in 50 Below Zero, and don’t even get me started on A Promise is a Promise.)

This is a surreal book with images and conversations that will intrigue and engage readers young and old; reluctant or eager. How can you pass up a kid’s book that contains the lines: “Do we still exist?” “I’m starting to wonder.” I want that on a t-shirt!

I just bought a copy for my grade three class, and I will pass on what the reaction to it is.

It has been available in hard cover for a while ($18.95), and it is available now in soft cover ($16.99).

Oh, and it’s a comic.

Author: Jordan Crane, Pages: 208 Dimensions: 6.25" x 6.75" Colors: full-color Publisher Fantagraphics ISBN-10: 1-56097-627-6

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