This week’s topic was suggested by Chris Mautner, and I liked it so much that I talked him into writing half of the entries for it. Chris said the inspiration for it came after reading The Muppet Show Comic Book by Roger Langridge. Licensed kids comics in the wrong hands can be a total train wreck, but when you pair up, say, Larry Hama with G.I. Joe, Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew with Alice in Wonderland, or Bob Burden and Rick Geary with Gumby, you end up with something special. So here’s our list of six creators — or in some cases, creative teams — we’d like to see on licensed kids comics.
1. Jaime Hernandez on Dennis the Menace — It’s no secret that Hernandez is a big fan of the work of Dennis creator Hank Ketcham, as well as Al Wiseman, who wrote and drew a lot of the spin-off Dennis comic books. He seems a natural therefore to give a bit of modern spin on the perpetually five-year-old youngster and brush him up a bit for the 21st century. Jaime’s already proved in Love and Rockets that he has a real empathy for kids and understands their milieu quite well, so I can’t imagine putting himself in Dennis’ shoes would be too difficult. —Chris Mautner
2. Jill Thompson on Casper the Friendly Ghost — Thompson’s done everything in this industry from Invisibles and Wonder Woman to her creator-owned kids books Magic Trixie and Scary Godmother. It’s those second two, though, that make her qualified to update Casper and his friends for a modern age, while still maintaining the charm and innocence that make him such a delightful character to begin with. —JK Parkin
3. Bryan Lee O’Malley on the Powerpuff Girls — Who else would be able to infuse the right blend of drama, pathos and humor necessary to tell the story of Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup (Not to mention Mojo Jojo). O’Malley’s sharp, referential wit that shines through so easily in the Scott Pilgrim books would blend easily with the show’s bubbly but decidedly dry sense of humor. Plus, he’s already got the big eye thing down. —Chris Mautner
4. Jeff Parker and Mike Mignola on Herculoids — Out of all of the Hanna Barbara adventure shows that debuted in the late 1960s, Herculoids was always my favorite as a kid. Sure, there were times when I wanted to see the big rock ape, Igloo, accidentally sit down on Dorno and end his annoying ways once and for all, but there was no better thrill than seeing Zandor fly in on Zok as Tundro charged in by land to take out the bad guys. Who better to bring these larger-than-life monsters/heroes to the printed page than the guy who created Hellboy, teamed with a guy whose proven he can write fun adventure stories? This pair could rock the hell out of the Herculoids. —JK Parkin
5. Tony Millionaire on Raggedy Ann and Andy — As with Ketcham and Hernandez, children’s illustrator Johnny Gruelle seems to have been a powerful influence on Millionaire’s work. You can see it both in his own books for kids like Billy Hazelnuts and in decidedly more scatological adult work like Maakies. It would be neat then to see Millionaire try to take on Gruelle’s most famous creation, the ever-smiling rag dolls, Raggedy Ann and Andy. Most modern-day folk don’t remember too well, but those two got up to some decidedly odd adventures in their hey day. Out of all of today’s indie cartoonists, Millionaire is best suited to bring these moppets into the 21st century. I’d love, for example, to see his take on The Camel With the Wrinkly Knees. —Chris Mautner
6. Grant Morrison and Brendan McCarthy on H.R. Puffnstuff — If you aren’t familiar with the classic kids TV show, H.R. Puffnstuff, here’s the intro:
Pretty trippy, right? Now imagine that in the hands of Morrison and McCarthy. I’m not sure what else I could add here. — JK Parkin