Copper written and illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi, 94 pp RL 3
Bolt City is the name of the home to Copper and his dog Fred and it is also the name of the very talented Kazu Kibuishi's website. Kibuishi is also the creator of the Amuletseries of graphic novels (look for book 3 sometime this spring) and contributor to and editor of the Flight series for adults. There is also Flight Explorer for kids, featuringJake Parker's Missile Mouse, now star of his own book (scroll to the bottom for a cool picture...) Kibuishi also is responsible for the Daisy Kutter and the 14 chapter webcomic Clive Cabbage.
Even though I am an art school drop out with an ongoing love of art, it has taken me a long time to fully understand and totally appreciate graphic novels. When I read a graphic novel, I sometimes either feel that there is not enough text to go along with the story being told by the illustrations or that the illustrations are not creating a complete enough world to draw me in and hold me. I am kind of an impatient reader and I often read for plot. If you do this with a good graphic novel, you can miss so much of the story. The format of Copper is not that of a graphic novel per se, but a comic strip and when I gave it my first read through I felt like a light bulb went on!
42 of the 45 comics in Copper are one page stories that can have as many as 17 panels arranged on that one page. I think because I didn't feel like there was one long story I needed to be following I was able to let myself go and dive in to the world of Bolt City. And what an amazing world it is! There is no way that a traditional novel could have created this elegant, fantastic world with words alone. Pictures MUST be part of this story, which tracks the exploits of the optimistic Copper and his more pragmatic dog Fred.
The images and geography of the book stayed with me long after I had finished reading, as did the always forward thinking personality of Copper. And Fred, despite the fact that he can be a bit of a worry wort, brings a sort of voice of reason to the story.
I think that Copper is a great first graphic novel for a young reader to pick up and definitely something that will stick with you long after the last page, which is actually a fabulous 10 page "Behind the Scenes" spread that takes you inside Kibuishi's studio for a step-by-step look at how Copper is created, from the pencil sketches, to the hand inking and the final digital coloring, this deepened my appreciation for the art of the comic book tremendously. It may even inspire some young artists and writers to try their creating their own comic books!
I had to add this photo I found on the Bolt City website... I am a bookseller and co-head of the children's department at the Barnes & Noble where I work. I am an organizer at heart and putting things in order is a part of my job I really love (although I do get a bit tired of putting the same things back in their places over and over again - I still rue the day bookstores became toy stores...) So, I was especially tickled when I saw this picture, which was taken in a Barnes & Noble. On a good day, that's how myComics & Manga section looks!!!