James Kochalka is a fairly prolific comic book artist with some very different books. Some of his comics are decidedly not for kids, despite the colorful drawings—in fact, the title of one series probably shouldn’t even be printed on a family blog. But he also does some very fun, entirely kid-appropriate comics, like Johnny Boo and Dragon Puncher, published by Top Shelf Comics.
Johnny Boo is a little ghost boy with a pet ghost named Squiggle (who looks a bit like a white apostrophe with a face). His “boo” power is his ability to say “Boo!” really loudly. In the latest volume, Johnny Boo and the Mean Little Boy, Squiggle gets caught by a boy who thinks he’s a butterfly. Squiggle thinks it’s all a game but the boy really does turn out to be mean. It’s a fairly short story with some juvenile humor in it, but both of my kids think it’s hilarious.
I really like Dragon Puncher, though. Kochalka uses photos of himself, his cat, and his son, and then incorporates the faces into his drawings. Dragon Puncher is played by his cat, and his son is Spoony-E, a little hairy creature who wants to help Dragon Puncher fight the drooling dragon (played by Kochalka himself). Just imagine: how cool would it be for a kid to read a comic that has his own face in it? It makes me want to try something similar with my own kids. In the meantime, though, they’ve got Dragon Puncher and they love reading it together. It’s listed as “Volume 1” so hopefully there will be more to come.
Kochalka’s art is done with bold lines and bright colors, giving it a childlike feel, and it really works well with both stories. If you’ve got young kids and are looking for some kid-friendly comics, Johnny Boo and especially Dragon Puncher are worth a look, as well as Kochalka’s older Monkey vs. Robot series. Just be careful if you’re browsing the rest of Kochalka’s work and be sure that it’s kid-safe before you pass it along to your kids. Most of them will be clearly marked “all ages” if they’re okay for kids.
Disclosure: Top Shelf sent review copies of Johnny Boo and Dragon Puncher to GeekDad.