By James Sturm, Andrew Arnold & Alexis Frederick-Frost (First Second Books)
Win’s Christmas Recommendation: Truly Interactive Option for Parental Peace and Quiet – and no batteries! … 9/10
There are a host of books both academic and/or instructional, designed to inculcate a love of comics whilst offering tips, secrets and an education in how to make your own sequential narratives. Precious few that do it with such style, enthusiasm and cunning craft as the far-too-occasional releases by the meritorious masters of the Adventures in Cartooning crowd.
Prolific and prestigious James Sturm (The Golem’s Mighty Swing, Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules) has created a wealth of superb comics and graphic novels, worked for Raw, founded alternative news-mag The Stranger and established his own publishing house – Bear Bones Press.
In 1997 he became a professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. In 2004, with Michelle Ollie, he set up the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont; an educational institution dedicated to excellence in the narrative arts and custodian of The Schulz Library (an American repository of rare comics, strips, books graphic arts and cartoons honouring the legendary creator of Peanuts).
In 2009, with Center graduates Andrew Arnold & Alexis Frederick-Frost, Sturm began a series of captivatingly bright and breezy books, cunningly contrived to lure youngsters into a life of line-drawing and full-colour story-telling by making the lessons part-and-parcel of a fabulous magical excursion.
Now with the season of giving and kids bored-to-death-by-lunchtime upon us again, the quick-on-the-draw Cartoon Elf, his fractious friend the Princess Knight, their dragon and an overly-sturdy steed return to help out Santa Claus in his darkest moment of existential doubt…
The stout Samaritan is wistfully pining for the good old days as his legion of diminutive helpers switch from crafting trusty toys and good old gadgets to writing code and packaging the electronic games, video clips, digital downloads and ubiquitous iWants Apps that modern children keep crying out for.
Convinced that this modern fascination is insubstantial and insufficient, Santa seconds the Magical Cartooning Elf and together they craft and construct a solid storybook for children to enjoy over and over again.
The crafty contributors assemble a torrent of tales all in rhyme, so readers will have the best of times.
There’s a snowman abominable and that valiant knight, plus kids who are giants and their tree of great height.
There’s a trip into space to capture a star and secrets of printing and distributing afar…
Once Santa’s happy that the book’s in the bag, he assembles his team but hits a great snag.
Since the Yule’s now electric the Reindeer have retired, until enter the Dragon and that tubby old nag…
Zapped with Elf magic they deliver the books which are greeted with wonder not petulant looks.
All over the world kids are engrossed, and soon send their own comics back to Santa by post…
Seriously though: this book does include a handy “how-to” section, a selection of youngsters’ own creations and readers and purchasers are invited to send their works to Kris Kringle’s newest recruits in Vermont at the Center for Cartoon Studies…
Aimed at ages 6 and up, this delightful, inspiring, inclusive and just plain fun book is a cheap, cheerful and potentially life-altering tome (still readily available for parents and other gift-challenged adults) that could stop your youngsters from scribbling on walls and redirect that raw creativity onto safe, rewarding pages where we can all enjoy the fruits of their labours…
© 2012 James Sturm, Andrew Arnold & Alexis Frederick-Frost. All rights reserved.