Howdy! This page is part of a guide to comic books recommended for younger readers (along with some stuff their parents might like as well. This page covers the letter "G." Other books are linked to below.

So, come celebrate that groovy, geeky, magical medium that we all grew up on... and share that special sense of wonder with someone smaller and newer than you. By the way, this is a work in progress, and your recommendations are always welcome... )








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"G-Man, v.1: Learning To Fly"
Written and Illustrated by Chris Giarrusso
(Image Comics, 2009)

A fun, funny superhero spoof aimed at younger readers. Creator Chris Giarrusso worked on the cartoony "Mini Marvels" series, which features goofy, kid-friendly parodies of established brand-name superheroes such as Spider-Man, The Hulk, et.al. I'm actually not a huge fan of "Mini Marvels" (or DC's likeminded "Tiny Titans" series) since it requires a lot of prior knowledge on the original stories and secretly seems pitched at older, long-time readers rather than the little kids who need more accessible super-books. "G-Man," however, is a delight. A fast-moving, giddy spoof of superhero comics, the book has an inventiveness and carefree feel and shares a lot in common with the "Franklin Richards" books. The premise is simple: a young boy named Mikey wants to be a superhero, and learns how to fly when he discovers that his family has a "magic blanket" that he cuts up and uses as a cape. This isn't too surprising since Mikey lives in a comicbook world where pretty much every kid and every adult has super powers as well... sort of like "Leave It To Beaver" meets "Astro City." The first section of the book is a tongue-in-cheek origin story, followed by a bunch of one and two-page gag strips. Giarrusso rounds things out with a hilarious lampoon of the many alternate-reality adventures that crowd mainstream super comics. (In one scene, Mikey and the other kids are freaked out about an impending apocalypse, but an adult hero hardly looks up from his newspaper -- this kind of thing happens all the time.) Unlike the "Mini Marvels" strips, "G-Man" is a free-standing, self-contained story -- it plays off the conventions of super-comics, but you don't have to know the life history of all the characters in order to get all the jokes. Definitely looking forward to a second volume!


"G-Man, v.2: Cape Crisis"
Written and Illustrated by Chris Giarrusso
(Image Comics, 2010)


"Garfield & Company, v.1: Fish To Fry"
Based on the work of Jim Davis
(Papercutz, 2011)

It is one of my great shames in life that my daughter is so into that obnoxious cartoon cat, Garfield (I was always a "Calvin And Hobbes" kinda guy, myself...) Anyhoo, she likes Garfield and was thrilled to see these cartoon anthologies based on the new Garfield Show TV series, which uses CGI animation to bring Garfield's world to life. These books use stories from the series, with adapted screenshots as artwork, in a graphic novel format that allows three stories to be collected in each volume. This first book has the episodes "Family Snapshot," "Nice To Nermal" and "Fish To Fry," all of which I am happy to report are better written and more engaging than that dreadful series they had on in the 1990s... More important than what I think is what my kid -- the Garfield zombie -- thought: she dug it. Tore through 'em, read 'em again, asked when the next volume was coming out. So there you have it. Phooey on Dad. (B)


"Garfield & Company, v.2: The Curse Of The Cat People"
Based on the work of Jim Davis
(Papercutz, 2011)

More kooky Garfield mayhem! This volume includes "The Curse Of The Cat People," "The Pet Show" and "Bone Diggers." (B)


"Gasoline Alley: Sundays With Walt And Skeezix"
Written and Illustrated by Frank King
Edited by Peter Maresca & Chris Ware
(Splendid Sundays, 2007)

An utterly gorgeous, luxuriant full-sized folio of classic newspaper cartoons from the legendary "Gasoline Alley" series. One of the technical highwater marks of comic strip draftsmanship, and a lovely family story that unfolded over decades, "Gasoline Alley" started in 1918, with the original creator Frank King handing the creative reins over in 1959. King is the real genius of the strip, and while the daily episodes had a nice soap opera quality, it's the full-color Sunday strips that are so dazzling and magical. This book collects several dozen classics, full of beautiful, surrealist artwork and day-dreamy dialogue. This is wonderfully evocative art, ideal for letting the eyes drink deeply and the mind wander free. Highly recommended. (Note: a different publisher, Drawn And Quarterly, has initiated a multi-volume, chronological reprint of the black-and-white dailies, although I haven't had a chance to check them out yet...) (A+)


"Gasoline Alley: Walt And Skeezix, v.1"
Written and Illustrated by Frank King
(Drawn & Quarterly, 2005)


"Gasoline Alley: Walt And Skeezix, v.2"
Written and Illustrated by Frank King
(Drawn & Quarterly, 2006)


"Gasoline Alley: Walt And Skeezix, v.3"
Written and Illustrated by Frank King
(Drawn & Quarterly, 2007)


"Gasoline Alley: Walt And Skeezix, v.4"
Written and Illustrated by Frank King
(Drawn & Quarterly, 2007)


"The Green Lantern: DC Archives, v.1"
By John Broome & Gil Kane, et al
(DC Comics, 1996)

I'll admit, I was never a huge DC fan when I was a kid... Sure, I read some of their books, but I never collected them, or went out looking for back-issues or anything like that. But years later, when I was looking for little-kid-friendly comicbooks, I was pleasantly surprised to find how solidly entertaining these old Green Lantern stories are. This is the second incarnation of the Green Lantern character, a guy with a magic ring that can make anything he thinks of a reality, and who flies around stopping bad guys all over our world and in outer space, too. The stories are great, mostly with a strong science-fiction flavor, and some pretty imaginative plots... The artwork by Gil Kane is a gas, too -- sleek, minimalist lines, with a fluid feel, but not the overly-exaggerated style he moved towards by the end of the decade. These are great stories, and all of the material in the Archive sets (v.1-6, so far...) has held up really well over years... I wasn't a huge GL fan when I was little, but I'm digging these stories now... and my kid is, too!


"The Green Lantern: DC Archives, v.2"
By John Broome & Gil Kane, et al
(DC Comics, 1996)


"The Green Lantern: DC Archives, v.3"
By John Broome & Gil Kane, et al
(DC Comics, 1996)


"The Green Lantern: DC Archives, v.4"
By John Broome & Gil Kane, et al
(DC Comics, 1996)


"The Green Lantern: DC Archives, v.5"
By John Broome & Gil Kane, et al
(DC Comics, 1996)


"The Green Lantern: DC Archives, v.6"
By John Broome & Gil Kane, et al
(DC Comics, 1996)


"The Green Lantern Chronicles Vol. 1" (DC Comics, 2009)
By John Broome & Gil Kane, et al
(DC Comics, 2009)

Cool beans. The new, soft-cover Chronicles series covers the same turf as the earlier, glossier Archive books, just they're much cheaper and still in print. A great bargain -- if I hadn't already picked up the older hard-bound books, I'd definitely snap these ones up today. Fun stuff.


"The Green Lantern Chronicles Vol. 2" (DC Comics, 2009)
By John Broome & Gil Kane, et al
(DC Comics, 2009)


"The Green Lantern Chronicles Vol. 3" (DC Comics, 2010)
By John Broome & Gil Kane, et al
(DC Comics, 2010)




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