An owl! An astronaut! A menace! A superhero girl! A surrealist!

If it’s Friday, it must be the new issue of the Playhouse Comics Club! C’mon in, the water’s fine. (The image above is Salvador Dalí’s painting Landscape of Port Lligat, 1950.)

 

Whooo Are You? Dep’t: An ideal first comic is Andy Runton’s Owly, about a gentle owl who lives in the forest with his best friend Wormy and an animal community. Owly is almost completely a wordless comic—there are only a few words in balloons above the characters’ heads to indicate their speech. Kids can follow Owly just by looking at the images.

Simon & Schuster publish Owly and Wormy picture books, while longer Owly graphic novels are available from Scholastic Graphix. While you wait for libraries to reopen so you can check out Runton’s books, visit his website, where you will find free Owly stories to download, Owly videos, and fan art of Runton’s animal characters. Owly’s forest is a wonderful place to visit.

 

 

Boldly Going Dep’t: First Second’s #Sketch School continues with artist Maris Wicks, who stars in a YouTube video to promote Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier, a nonfiction graphic novel drawn by Wicks and written by Jim Ottaviani about “the great humor and incredible drive of Mary Cleave, Valentina Tereshkova, and the first women in space.” In this video, Wicks shows us how to draw Astronaut Cleave, as well as how to design your own flight patch for upcoming space missions!

 

Not the Medicine Dep’t: Britain’s Beano is a comic published every week since 1938—the 4000th issue appeared in August 2019. The character most associated with Beano is Dennis the Menace, a bratty kid in a football hooligan t-shirt introduced in March 1951, the same month that the American Dennis the Menace (in overalls) first appeared in newspapers.

To help UK kids weather the quarantine, Beano publisher D.C. Thomson makes available two free downloads of 36-page “Beano Golden” issues, here and here. They’re full of zany characters (including Minnie the Minx, Calamity James, and the evergreen Dennis) as well as mazes, jokes, and silly quizzes. The Beano website offers videos and activities. Soon your child will be asking you what “barmy” means, or what can be done to “save the NHS.”

 

Leaps Tall Buildings Dep’t: From the pen of award-winning Canadian cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks comes The Adventures of Superhero Girl, a whimsical webcomic about a super-powered crime-fighter just as likely to be getting kittens out of trees and doing her laundry as fighting monsters from outer space. Wander around Hicks’ website and you’ll find a story about Wolverine going to the store for eggs, samples of her illustration work, and a list of her published work (including a print version of Superhero Girl and graphic novels in the Avatar: The Last Airbender and Buffy the Vampire Slayer universes).

 

Melting Clocks Dep’t: This is for kids ready for the weirdness of surrealism. During the pandemic, the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida has made available images from its permanent collection online, as well as created virtual tours for its exhibits (including one about 1929, a critical year for Dalí). Also posted are lots of “educational activities” inspired by Dalí’s art: videos, craft projects, and more. These are your first steps in teaching your child to be as goal-oriented as Dalí, who once said, “At the age of six, I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.”

 

This weekly blog post is written and compiled by Craig Fischer. To send along recommendations, ideas, and comments, contact Craig at craig_fschr@yahoo.com [.]

Playhouse Comics Club, Issue #3 (May 15, 2020)Playhouse Comics Club, Issue #5 (May 29, 2020)
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