Image Comics … for Kids??

Reading Time: 3 minutes

hinges page, via Image ComicsImage Comics, which publishes and distributes creator-owned works, is largely known for its mature titles like Saga, Sex Criminals and, of course, The Walking Dead.

pennydora1coverblarsonWhat you might not realize is that they’re also publishing all-ages titles. These include Howtoons, a terrific science and project narrative book which has already been covered on GeekDad, and two books I read this past week and loved:

Hinges: Book 1: Clockwork City by Meredith McClaren and Penny Dora and the Wishing Box by Michael Stock and Sina Grace.

I’ve been trying to find the right words to describe Hinges and finally settled on an analogy: the story is like a sequential art version of a Miyazaki film.

As in Miyazaki’s best work, Hinges takes the reader on a journey through a fabulous and slightly off-kilter new world, in this case, the world of the Baubles. The main character, Orio, is “created” in a fantasy factory in the clockwork city. At the end of her creation, Orio bonds to a “bauble,” a Stitch-like creature who will be her companion and helpmate. The story tells of Orio’s attempts to find her true profession and her discovery that all is not at it seems in Cobble City.

Hinges, via Image Comics

The manga-style storytelling carries the narrative, making Hinges easy to follow for kids but so complex under the surface that I re-read it several times for the full impact of this incredible and involving world. This is solely the creation of McClaren and my first experience with her work. The world needs more of it. The book should be suitable for any child who can read or even those who’d prefer to imagine their own dialogue with the gorgeous art.

In contrast, Penny Dora and the Wishing Box brings the fantastical to the world of the everyday, as a box appears on the doorstep of the California home of Penny Dora just before Christmas.

PennyDora lettering template
Penny Dora & the Wishing Box, issue #1, via Image Comics

At first, the box appears nothing more than an empty wooden box, a joke paid on Penny and her mother by someone. But as the glowing above demonstrates, the box is so much more than that, granting Penny’s wish that Christmas last longer.

But neither Penny or the reader are completely certain they can trust the box, even to grant their wishes because, as we all know, wishes go awry in fairy tales.

There’s a tiny bit of the horror genre in the story that reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s work for younger readers. I highly recommend the book, which is coming out in a trade paperback collection on April 15.

One word of caution: because of the slightly scary nature of the first issue, proceed with caution with children who are susceptible to fears about something unusual under the bed or in the closet. Otherwise, I’d recommend it for ages seven and up.

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