Saturday's Guest Spot

Been kind of a rough week here in the Hatcher household, with a lot of different deadlines hitting at around the same time. I've been up to my hips producing textbooks and workbooks and such for, variously, a legal-aid conference; a medical software outfit; and a firm that markets math and grammar texts to parents who do home-schooling. It's a glamorous living, commercial art. Between that and teaching my middle-school classes, there wasn't a whole lot of time to write a column.

Fortunately, I have a couple of pinch-hitters this week. When I get review copies of things that I think might interest my students, I take them to class and offer the kids a chance to review them, and usually I let them keep the review copy when they're done.

More often than not, the occasion for one of these student-review experiments is the arrival of a new anthology volume of Graphic Classics from Tom Pomplun. On the whole, I really like what they've been doing with these books, I think it's far and away the best take I've seen on the whole Classics Illustrated idea. I especially enjoy the eclectic lineup of artists Tom recruits for each new anthology. And since I feel very strongly that comics are a 'gateway drug' of sorts to reading in general, I'm always curious to see what my students will make of the books, because the Graphic Classics selections I've brought in almost always turn out to be the first time my kids have ever heard of these stories.

This time, it was a advance copy of the upcoming Christmas Classics.

The stories chosen for adaptation were Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” adapted by scripter Alex Burrows and illustrated by Micah Farritor; Clement C. Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” with art by Florence Cestac; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle” adapted by Rich Rainey and Hunt Emerson; O. Henry’s “A Chaparral Christmas Gift” illustrated by Cynthia Martin; Willa Cather’s “The Strategy of the Werewolf Dog” illustrated by Evert Geradts; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “A Luckless Santa Claus” illustrated by Simon Gane; and Fitz-James O’Brien’s “The Wondersmith” adapted by Rick Geary.

Our student reviewers this time out were Emma and Rahel, again.

Here is Emma's take on Christmas Classics:Christmas Classics review by Emma D.

When I was reading Christmas Classics I liked all the different types of drawing -- the realistic, the cartoony, etc. I liked all the detail in both A Christmas Carol and The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.

[caption id="attachment_62712" align="alignnone" width="620" caption="I think when Emma says 'detail' she means 'craft and care,' but we won't split hairs. "]


I also like how they drew Santa in A Visit From St. Nicholas.

[caption id="attachment_62712" align="alignnone" width="620" caption="Good job, Ms. Cestac!"]


I think it is a little hard to understand A Luckless Santa Claus, some of the words are confusing. Also the little description before the comic The Strategy of the Werewolf Dog, the last sentence is a little confusing because the word choices are from an older time.

[caption id="attachment_62712" align="alignnone" width="620" caption="Emma was having a hell of a time with the baroque sentence construction of Willa Cather and Fitzgerald, especially. I had to explain to her that the custom was to try not to tamper with the text at all, but rather to clarify it with the graphics. "]


I love all the graphics though, they are very specific and detailed and really help tell the story! I also like the different points of view, they really help to change the way the readers see things!

[caption id="attachment_62712" align="alignnone" width="620" caption="It tickles me to hear Emma talking about point of view, because that's something we hammer on in class a lot -- pose your characters, change your angles, give your pages variety."]


Great job on this comic!

Overall, I have to agree with Emma. This is, I think, the fourth volume from Graphic Classics I've brought to school and it got passed around quite a bit. These are always a hit with my students... more than most superhero books I've brought in, really. School librarians, take note. I rarely see these in comics shops but their web page is here if you want a copy of your very own.


I don't like to bring in just one book when we do reviews, so in addition to Christmas Classics I'd also brought Kev Walker's graphic novel adaptation of Silverfin, the first of Charlie Higson's Young Bond series, and Rahel lunged for that one.

Here's what she had to say:

Silverfinreview by Rahel Y.

It's an amazing book!! The graphics are really detailed. I like how the pictures are colored and how there are different angles in the view of the characters.

[caption id="attachment_62712" align="alignnone" width="620" caption="Note how Rahel is paying attention to point of view changes, as well. I am all aglow that the kids have internalized that idea, we work on it a lot."]


The story in general is really interesting. I like how there are silent parts on the graphics. The shading is perfect!

I can't really think of something bad about either the story or the pictures. GREAT JOB ON THIS COMIC!!

(Rahel added a smiley emoticon at the end. She really loved it.)

I've spoken before at length about how much I loved the Young Bond series of juvenile novels myself, so I won't rehash it all here, but I will say that they remain probably my favorites of all the different attempts to follow in Ian Fleming's footsteps. (Well, second-favorite, because no one has yet managed to beat Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis.) But if you're a James Bond fan then Charlie Higson's books are well worth your time. Much more so than the 'official' Bond pastiches from John Gardner or Raymond Benson.


So there you have it. Thanks to my two student pinch-hitters, as well as the publishers who sent along the copies for review.

As for me, the last of my book-packaging panics shipped out late last night, so I'm off to bed.

See you next week.

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