Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework by Nadja Spiegelman and Trade Loeffler - review
TOON Books loves them some old-fashioned, well-crafted comic illustration style. I read a lot of graphic novels for kids - basically, I read all of them - and it is always so soothing to open up a TOON book. The color palette is consistent and harmonious, there is contrast between backgrounds and foregrounds, shapes are easy to read. TOON artists deploy standard techniques and visual cues like motion lines, graphic text (ZOOM!), and using selective detail to indicate large areas of foliage or other flora, and they do these things well. This stuff is worth learning, and worth doing. It makes the reader's job easier, and especially when you're drawing for new readers, that should be a major consideration.
All right, that's my lecture for the week. Oh, except call me a fuddy-duddy, but I think using pens and brushes to draw children's comics is the way to go. Unless you are VERY good at digital illustration (Bob Staake), you can end up with a monotony of line value that makes it difficult to distinguish the main subject of a drawing.
God I'm such a geek.
Ok. Shake it off, baby. What's the what with Zig and Wikki? What's with those wacky names? How come there's a raccoon on the cover? Is my kid going to snatch this up or what?
Zig and Wikki are best friends - Wikki's a carefree, um, computer monitor with arms and legs; and Zig is a one-eyed tentacle-y type. They're both about seven or eight years old, I'd say, blessed with their own little spaceship and an unusual amount of autonomy.
Zig's homework assignment is to bring in an animal for the class zoo, and when they find themselves lost on Earth, they figure it's an ideal opportunity to capture something exotic. In their attempts to catch a housefly, a dragonfly, a frog and a raccoon, they observe some of each animal's more unusual characteristics, and Wikki's screen provides helpful and disgusting information. These little bits of fact are worked into the story in a perfectly unobtrusive way. Color photographs of each animal are visual code for "this is really true!".
It's awfully cute and funny, with lots of slapstick and unexpected results. I'd love to see more from Zig and Wikki, and so would my first grader.