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Hardcover Books

Play Is Serious Business

More illustrated books for young folks, this time from a well-known writer in Hollywood. Toy Academy is a new series from Scholastic Books, written by Brian Lynch and illustrated by Edwardian Taylor. “Welcome to Toy Academy: Where toys learn to play. This is where action figures train to battle, stuffed animals study the art of the hug, and collectibles practice standing very, very still. Though Grumbolt isn’t really any of those things, he’s determined to fit in. But when the Evil Toy Academy threatens to bring down his school, it’s up to Grumbolt to go where no good toy has gone before and prove he’s truly a great toy after all. This laugh-out-loud chapter book by the writer of Minions and a writer of The Secret Life of Pets is a classic in the making.” You heard it here!

image c. 2018 Scholastic Books

A Flying Ape with a Beak. Yes.

One of the things that was almost impossible to miss at WonderCon this year was a huge display booth for Genesis II, a full color graphic novel by Allen Ling and Christian Boe. It’s a science fiction story about genetic experiments gone very, very strange, but that barely scratches the surface. The booth display featured three of the principle weird creations from the story in larger than life size, sculpted by none other than Stan Winston Studios. The graphic novel is available now as a hardcover book, and also as a download for purchase. The creators plan to release a softcover version later this year. Visit their web site to see what we’re talking about — and to order your copy.

image c. 2018 genesisiicomics.com

Hopping Around the Issue

Things do get strange in the world of politics, and likely many people would agree that things have gotten even more strange than usual of late. And now, we can add furries to the mix! Follow us here: Vice President Mike Pence and his family wrote a book, Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President, which details that very thing — from the point of view of the Pence family’s new pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo. (The text is actually by daughter Charlotte Pence, with illustrations by Second Lady Karen Pence, who is a watercolor artist.) Not to be outdone, upon hearing news of this political comedian John Oliver and his crew at Last Week Tonight created A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, written by Jill Twiss and illustrated by E.G. Keller. Marlon Bundo is bored with his life as a vice-presidential pet, until one day he falls in love with another male rabbit named Wesley. Marlon offers Wesley his paw in marriage, but their same-sex union is loudly opposed by a stink bug — with a suspiciously familiar crop of white hair. Upon its release, the Marlon Bundo book instantly became a #1 best-seller on Amazon. It’s available now from Chronicle Books.

image c. 2018 Chronicle Books

They Say Stories Can Be Dangerous

Check out this bio: “Matt Laney is an ordained minister with a lifelong interest in world religion, wisdom traditions, martial arts, big cats and middle grade literature”. That might explain the spiritual slant behind Reverend Laney’s first fantasy series for young readers, Pride Wars. The first book, The Spinner Prince, is out now in hardcover from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “In the scientific realm of Singara, where feline humanoids rule, fiction is forbidden. Those caught telling stories lose their tongues before being exiled. Heir to the throne, thirteen-year-old Prince Leo, is cursed with the “fiction affliction,” the unpredictable, uncontrollable habit of telling stories. Worse, the stories carry a dangerous power, leaving creatures behind who cause trouble and threaten to expose Leo’s affliction. Meanwhile, Leo’s elder cousin is making his move to seize the throne and the enemy beyond the Great Wall, another feline race called Maguar, are rising up. Will Leo claim the throne from his rival (and keep his tongue) before his curse is revealed? Or will he embrace his ability as a gift and discover a far greater destiny among the Maguar?” Check it out over at Kirkus Reviews.

image c. 2018 Houghton Mifflin

The Story of a One-Eared Fox

Author Mira Bartok has raised quite a stir with her first fantasy novel, called The Wonderling. “Welcome to the Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures, an institution run by evil Miss Carbunkle, a cunning villainess who believes her terrified young charges exist only to serve and suffer. Part animal and part human, the groundlings toil in classroom and factory, forbidden to enjoy anything regular children have, most particularly singing and music. For the Wonderling, an innocent-hearted, one-eared, fox-like eleven-year-old with only a number rather than a proper name — a 13 etched on a medallion around his neck — it is the only home he has ever known. But unexpected courage leads him to acquire the loyalty of a young bird groundling named Trinket, who gives the Home’s loneliest inhabitant two incredible gifts: A real name — Arthur, like the good king in the old stories — and a best friend. Using Trinket’s ingenious invention, the pair escape over the wall and embark on an adventure that will take them out into the wider world and ultimately down the path of sweet Arthur’s true destiny.” According to the publisher, this new hardcover book has already been optioned for a movie adaptation.

image c. 2018 Penguin RandomHouse

A Science Fiction Classic

Your humble ed-otter remembers reading Robert Silverberg’s science fiction novel Downward to the Earth in his youth. (It was one of the books mentioned in Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials.) Now, Humanoids (and Laura Zuccheri) have adapted the book into a new full-color hardcover graphic novel, illustrated by Philippe Thirault. “Ex-lieutenant Eddie Gundersen returns to Belzagor, where he had left behind his youthful illusions, the love of his life and his shameful past as a colonizer. He finds the planet returned to its two intelligent species: The Nildoror and the Sulidoror. Taking the lead on a scientific expedition to the borders of the indigenous lands, Gundersen must face his own demons and settle the score with a planet which still has hidden secrets.” The Nildoror resemble mastodons, while the Sulidoror resemble giant sloth bears. Lt. Gundersen has his work cut out for him, trying to navigate between these two very different cultures. Doom Rocket has a detailed preview of the new graphic novel.

image c. 2018 Humanoids

Robo-Cop? No, Robo-Dog!

Two talented and award-winning creators who have worked on The Simpsons comics now turn their eyes to a funny animal science fiction adventure with Sparks!, a new full-color graphic novel. Written by Ian Boothby and illustrated by Nina Matsumoto, Sparks! goes like this: “August is a brilliant inventor who is afraid of the outside. Charlie is a crack pilot who isn’t afraid of anything. Together these pals save lives every day. They also happen to be cats who pilot a powerful, mechanical dog suit! Always eager to leap into danger, this feline duo have their work cut out for them as they try to thwart Princess, an evil alien bent on enslaving mankind. Don’t let the fact that Princess looks like a cute, diaper-wearing baby fool you. She’s clever, determined, and totally ruthless. So when Princess and the browbeaten fools she calls servants enact a brilliant and dastardly plan to conquer Earth, August and Charlie pull out all the stops to save the day.” Check out the preview video over on YouTube. The book is available now in hardcover and softcover from Graphix.

image c. 2018 Graphix

Black Ink and Big Creatures

A recent discovery from the Long Beach Comic Expo. Seung Woo Cha currently works as a director at Dreamworks TV… but he is also a fine artist, known for his imaginative depictions of wild life from around the world — especially gorillas and other apes. Often working in black ink, he paints in broad artistic strokes that nonetheless capture the essence and power of his subjects. Recently he collected several of his works together into a hardcover portfolio book, appropriately enough entitled The Art of Wild Life. You can purchase the book over at his web site, and see examples of his work as well.

image c. 2018 Draw 4 Life Studios

Son of Dragon: Save the World

New from Humanoids we have Dragonseed, a full-color fantasy graphic novel written by Kurt McClung (Might & Magic) and illustrated by the team of Jimenez and Mateo Guerrero (Warlands). “For centuries the men and creatures of Krath have prepared for a conflict that many hoped would never happen. A half-blood, Adam Serre Shadow, now has just two moons to find the thief of the teardrop stone, stolen from his fire-breathing father, before the Council of Elders trigger all-out war. The son of a Dragon will stop at nothing to find the magical relic and preserve the fragile peace that still exists between the two species.” It’s available now as a digital comic and as a deluxe hardcover.

image c. 2018 Humanoids