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Wink 2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Cheapies but goodies under $20

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Already into our first week of December, the holiday month flies by about as fast as the bills spill out of our wallets. But fear not! Wink Books and Wink Fun have some extraordinary gift ideas ($3-$19!) that won’t bust your budget. (For less budget-minded ideas, you can also check out Gareth Branwyn’s 2015 gift list.) Read the rest

A story of a building in Paris that's stood since the Crusades

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See more photos at Wink Fun.

750 Years in Paris is a historical graphic novel sans words as well as a stunning coffee table art book. Paris-based artist Vincent Mahé (aka Mr. Bidon) illustrates 60 snapshots of the same building in Paris, spanning from the year 1265 with cows grazing in front of its humbler beginnings to 2015 in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. With the smallest of details, from words of storefront signs to the clothing of people to the state of the building itself, Mahé is able to subtly and masterfully inject humor, horror, nostalgia, historical facts and pride into his various images.

The back of the book has a timeline to help decipher some of the historical events revolving around the images. For instance, directly quoted from the book (and images shown above):

1515 – Francis I is crowned king and enters the city in a lavish procession. 1804 – Napoleon’s enthronement and imperial troops procession. 1915 – World War 1. 2015 – 4 million in the streets defending freedom of speech.

As I began to write this review, the horror of Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris unfolded before the world, making this newly-released book all the more poignant and significant.

750 Years in Paris by Vincent Mahé Nobrow 2015, 120 pages, 8.4 x 13 x 0.7 inches $18 Buy a copy on Amazon

Read the rest

The biblical creation story told as space opera

Lots of myths have been used as fodder for science fiction and fantasy, and some of the more interesting ones turn the gods into cosmic entities, or extensions of our own humanity. Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, for example, imagines a group of posthuman astronauts who take on the personas of the Hindu pantheon. Then there are comics, such as Jack Kirby’s Asgard, a techno-mystical dimension, where magic and technology are indistinguishable (to butcher Asimov’s famous dictum). One story that has not garnered much favor by writers and artists is the biblical creation story. But they are missing out on a vastly strange and cosmic tale, and when combined with Kabbalistic ideas of how the world was created, you have one of the most far-out psychedelic-inflected tales that, if used right, could do wonders for a science fiction/fantasy story.

The problem is, it would take a pretty weird imagination to know what to do with it. The solution is Jesse Moynihan. Moynihan’s day job is as a writer and storyboard artist for Adventure Time, one of the greatest cartoons ever produced (sorry for the hyperbole, but it’s true). In Adventure Time, mythology and pop culture – including some brilliant shout outs to Dungeons & Dragons – are combined into something that is both whimsical and profound. After a few episodes, however, you can begin to see the self-imposed limitations. It is a kid’s show after all. In Moynihans’s own work as a comic writer and artist, his vision is let loose. Read the rest

Fantasy Sports: dungeon crawl ends in epic, eldritch basketball game

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In Fantasy Sports No. 1, a berzerker adventurer and his spellslinging, underappreciated apprentice go on a dungeon crawl that takes them into an eldritch game of basketball -- for the highest stakes imaginable.

Let's put the guilt back in guilty pleasures

Guilty pleasures aren't always merely self-loathing elitism or ironic tastelessness. They can also be a sign of genuine ambivalence—a feeling to cherish.

No Such Thing: spooky (not scary!) picture book

In the new Flying Eye picture book No Such Thing, a little girl named Georgia finds herself in a delightfully spooky situation: things in her home keep going astray -- but Georgia knows that there's no such thing as ghosts. Cory Doctorow field tested the book on his six year old, and comes back with a tale of mystery, delight, and fright, just in time for Hallowe'en.

Moonhead and the Music Machine

Fresh from the always-great Nobrow Press and comics creator Andrew Rae is Moonhead and the Music Machine, a surreal all-ages graphic novel that tells the coming-of-age story of Joey Moonhead, whose head is a moon, and whose freak-flag is just starting to fly. Cory Doctorow reviews a fine, funny and delightful tribute to album rock, outcast liberation, and high school social dominance.

WILD: sweet picture book about a feral child who won't be tamed

Back in July, I blogged about WILD, a gorgeous, sweet picture book about a feral child who won't be tamed. At the time, the book was only available in the UK, but as of today, it's out in the USA, too! Here's my original review:

Emily Hughes's Wild is the latest children's picture book from Flying Eye Books, the kids' imprint of London's NoBrow, who are fast becoming my favorite kids' publisher, and are seemingly incapable of publishing a dud. Wild is Hughes's debut book, and it tells the story of a nameless feral girl who is reared by the creatures of the woods. The bird teaches her to talk, the bear teaches her to eat, the fox teaches her to play. She is perfectly happy. But then she is discovered by the family of an eminent psychologist, who brings her home to tame and civilize her. This is a lost cause, and makes everyone -- especially the girl -- miserable. But the story has a happy ending: the girl absolutely destroys her adoptive family's home and escapes back into the woods on the family dog's back, naked as a jaybird and grinning like a fool. Everyone agrees this is for the best.

There's almost no words in this book -- the story is told with lush, expressive, hilarious paintings, often in two-page spreads. My daughter loved every one of them, especially the insane, action-packed ones, like where the girl learned to play from the fox, or where she trashed the civilized house.

Read the rest

WILD: sweet picture book about a feral child who won't be tamed

Emily Hughes's Wild is the latest children's picture book from Flying Eye Books, the kids' imprint of London's NoBrow, who are fast becoming my favorite kids' publisher, and are seemingly incapable of publishing a dud. Wild is Hughes's debut book, and it tells the story of a nameless feral girl who is reared by the creatures of the woods. The bird teaches her to talk, the bear teaches her to eat, the fox teaches her to play. She is perfectly happy. But then she is discovered by the family of an eminent psychologist, who brings her home to tame and civilize her. This is a lost cause, and makes everyone -- especially the girl -- miserable. But the story has a happy ending: the girl absolutely destroys her adoptive family's home and escapes back into the woods on the family dog's back, naked as a jaybird and grinning like a fool. Everyone agrees this is for the best.

There's almost no words in this book -- the story is told with lush, expressive, hilarious paintings, often in two-page spreads. My daughter loved every one of them, especially the insane, action-packed ones, like where the girl learned to play from the fox, or where she trashed the civilized house. For all the cheerful anarchy in this, there's no real menace or darkness -- it's as sweetly beautiful and wild as its protagonist.

Wild is out in the UK now, and comes out in the USA on September 10. Visit the Flying Eye site for more art previews. Read the rest

Topsy Turvy World: surreal kids' picture book, now out in the USA

Back in May, I reviewed Topsy Turvy World, a beautiful, wordless surreal picture book from London's Flying Eye. At the time, it was only available in the UK, but it's out in the USA as of today! Here's my original review:

TOPSY TURVY WORLD is one of the new titles from Flying Eye, the kids' imprint of London's wonderful NoBrow publishing. Like the rest of the line (recently reviewed titles include Welcome to Your Awesome Robot, Monsters and Legends and Akissi), Topsy Turvy World is brilliantly conceived, beautifully executed, and not quite like anything else in kids' publishing today.

Topsy Turvy World is a wordless collection of surreal paintings presented as two-page spreads. Though there's no story per se, the paintings do progress from the merely whimsical to the outright bizarre. The artist, Atak (a pseudonym for the German illustrator Hans-Georg Barber) manages to make things weirder and weirder without even hinting at horror, which is a great trick and makes this a perfect picture book for small kids like my daughter, who experienced unvarnished delight as we snuggled up at bedtime, working our way through all the strange and funny situations depicted on each page (the final spread is a real crescendo!).

The nice folks at Flying Eye were kind enough to supply some samples to go with this review -- check them out below the jump!

TOPSY TURVY WORLD [Flying Eye]

Topsy Turvy World [Amazon] Read the rest

Monsters and Legends: kids' monster book now in the USA!

Back in April, I reviewed Monsters and Legends, a wonderful illustrated kids' reference book from London's Flying Eye Books. At the time, it was only available in the UK, but now Americans can get it too! Here's my original review:

Monsters and Legends is part of the fabulous debut lineup of titles from Flying Eye, a kids' imprint spun out of London's NoBrow (they're the publishers of recently reviewed books like Welcome to Your Awesome Robot and Akissi). The book, written by Davide Cali and illustrated by Garbiella Giandelli, is a fascinating reference work for kids 7 and up about the curious origins of the monsters of the popular imagination. The book recounts the odd history of stories of mermaids, chupacabras, cyclopses, dragons, the Loch Ness Monster, and other cryptozoology favorites. It's a great balance between fascination with monsters and lore and a skeptical inquiry into how widespread beliefs can be overturned by evidence and rational inquire -- a real "magic of reality" book.

The illustrations in this book represent a range of engaging styles, and they bring it to life for even younger readers. My five year old and I spent several bedtimes on this, flipping through the pages, and stopping when a picture caught her eye. I had to interpret the text for her -- the language was often over her head -- but the stories absolutely grabbed her and it's become a family favorite.

As a one-time monster kid who's doing his best to raise another one, this one gets my unreserved stamp of approval.

Read the rest

Akissi: kids' comic about a mischievous girl in Cote D'Ivoire [now in the USA!]

Back in April, I reviewed Akissi, a delightful kids' comic about a mischievous little girl in Cote D'Ivoire, translated from the original French. Back then, it was only available in the UK, but as of today, you can buy it in the USA, too! Here's my original review:

Akissi is a French-language comic about the adventures of a little West African girl, now available in English translation thanks to the astoundingly excellent Flying Eye, a new kids' imprint of London's NoBrow. It was created by Marguerite Abouet, whom you may know from Aya, a series of comics for adults set in Cote d'Ivoire, widely available and appreciated in English translation.

Akissi's adventures are both universal and absolutely particular to her milieu. My young daughter -- born and raised in London -- has never kept a pet monkey, had a tapeworm come out of her nose, or had to contend with an older brother who wouldn't take her pigeon hunting; but Akissi's struggles with authority, her close friendships, and her misunderstandings are immediately recognisable to my daughter and her friends when they come over, and I've read the book aloud to them a good half-dozen times since I brought it home last week. It's the perfect combination of gross-out humour, authority clashes, and general mischief to capture a kid's interest.

Akissi comprises seven short stories, each of which stands alone, and, as with all of the NoBrow titles, it is a beautiful package -- great binding, endpapers, paper stock, and spine -- suitable for both your own library and as a handsome gift.

Read the rest

Hilda (from the kids' comic) as an 8" vinyl toy

The good people at London's Nobrow Press have done an 8" vinyl toy for the outstanding kids' comic Hilda, created by Luke Pearson (reviews: Book 0, Book 1; Book 2). The Hilda toy is grownup-collector-expensive, but it's also a very nice piece -- I saw one in person last night when I brought my daughter and her friend to the Nobrow store on the way to our weekly daddy-daughter pizza dinner.

Hilda Toy Read the rest

Topsy Turvy World: surreal kids' picture book

TOPSY TURVY WORLD is one of the new titles from Flying Eye, the kids' imprint of London's wonderful NoBrow publishing. Like the rest of the line (recently reviewed titles include Welcome to Your Awesome Robot, Monsters and Legends and Akissi), Topsy Turvy World is brilliantly conceived, beautifully executed, and not quite like anything else in kids' publishing today.

Topsy Turvy World is a wordless collection of surreal paintings presented as two-page spreads. Though there's no story per se, the paintings do progress from the merely whimsical to the outright bizarre. The artist, Atak (a pseudonym for the German illustrator Hans-Georg Barber) manages to make things weirder and weirder without even hinting at horror, which is a great trick and makes this a perfect picture book for small kids like my daughter, who experienced unvarnished delight as we snuggled up at bedtime, working our way through all the strange and funny situations depicted on each page (the final spread is a real crescendo!).

Topsy Turvy World is already out in the UK, and will hit the USA on June 11 (you can pre-order it now). The nice folks at Flying Eye were kind enough to supply some samples to go with this review -- check them out below the jump!

TOPSY TURVY WORLD [Flying Eye]

Topsy Turvy World [Amazon UK] Read the rest

Monsters and Legends: kids' reference book on the origin of monsters

Monsters and Legends is part of the fabulous debut lineup of titles from Flying Eye, a kids' imprint spun out of London's NoBrow (they're the publishers of recently reviewed books like Welcome to Your Awesome Robot and Akissi). The book, written by Davide Cali and illustrated by Garbiella Giandelli, is a fascinating reference work for kids 7 and up about the curious origins of the monsters of the popular imagination. The book recounts the odd history of stories of mermaids, chupacabras, cyclopses, dragons, the Loch Ness Monster, and other cryptozoology favorites. It's a great balance between fascination with monsters and lore and a skeptical inquiry into how widespread beliefs can be overturned by evidence and rational inquiry -- a real "magic of reality" book.

The illustrations in this book represent a range of engaging styles, and they bring it to life for even younger readers. My five year old and I spent several bedtimes on this, flipping through the pages, and stopping when a picture caught her eye. I had to interpret the text for her -- the language was often over her head -- but the stories absolutely grabbed her and it's become a family favorite.

As with other Flying Eye titles, this one is out in the UK right now and coming to the US on June 11 (here's a pre-order link). As a one-time monster kid who's doing his best to raise another one, this one gets my unreserved stamp of approval.

MONSTERS AND LEGENDS [Flying Eye]

Monsters and Legends [Amazon UK] Read the rest

Akissi: kids' comic about a mischievous girl in Cote D'Ivoire

Akissi is a French-language comic about the adventures of a little West African girl, now available in English translation thanks to the astoundingly excellent Flying Eye, a new kids' imprint of London's NoBrow. It was created by Marguerite Abouet, whom you may know from Aya, a series of comics for adults set in Cote d'Ivoire, widely available and appreciated in English translation.

Akissi's adventures are both universal and absolutely particular to her milieu. My young daughter -- born and raised in London -- has never kept a pet monkey, had a tapeworm come out of her nose, or had to contend with an older brother who wouldn't take her pigeon hunting; but Akissi's struggles with authority, her close friendships, and her misunderstandings are immediately recognisable to my daughter and her friends when they come over, and I've read the book aloud to them a good half-dozen times since I brought it home last week. It's the perfect combination of gross-out humour, authority clashes, and general mischief to capture a kid's interest.

Akissi comprises seven short stories, each of which stands alone, and, as with all of the NoBrow titles, it is a beautiful package -- great binding, endpapers, paper stock, and spine -- suitable for both your own library and as a handsome gift. It's on sale in the UK now, and will be out in the USA in June.

Akissi [Amazon UK]

AKISSI [Flying Eye] Read the rest

Welcome to your Awesome Robot: instructional robot-making comic now out in the US

Last month, I blogged a review of the kids' instructional comic book Welcome to Your Awesome Robot:

Welcome to Your Awesome Robot is a fantastic book for maker-kids and their grownups. It consists of a charming series of instructional comics showing a little girl and her mom converting a cardboard box into an awesome robot -- basically a robot suit that the kid can wear. It builds in complexity, adding dials, gears, internal chutes and storage, brightly colored warning labels and instructional sheets for attachment to the robot's chassis.

More than that, it encourages you to "think outside the box" (ahem), by adding everything from typewriter keys to vacuum hoses to shoulder-straps to your robot, giving the kinds of cues that will set your imagination reeling. For master robot builders, it includes a tear-out set of workshop rules for respectfully sharing robot-building space with other young makers, and certificates of robot achievement. I read this one to Poesy last night at bedtime, and today we're on the lookout for cardboard boxes to robotify. It's a fantastic, inspiring read! You can get a great preview of the book at NoBrow.

As of today, it's available in the US!

Welcome to your Awesome Robot by Viviane Schwarz [NoBrow]

Welcome to your Awesome Robot [Amazon]

Read the rest

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