Written and Drawn by Various
Reviewed by Marc Mason
May 7, 2011 is this year’s Free Comic Book Day, and as always, almost every publisher in the game will have something to offer. Some of the free books will be pretty good, some of them will be total crap- and don’t let the name of the publisher fool you on that one. DC, in particular, has put out more than their share of awful FCBD books, while some of the indy publishers have struck gold year after year. Here are a couple of the better indy efforts you’ll have the opportunity to grab this year.
JAKE THE DREAMING from Radical Comics is something different for both the publisher and the usual FCBD offerings. JAKE is actually an illustrated prose novel from writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman and artist Andrew Jones. The story is a classic “hero’s journey”- the young boy at the heart of the story discovers that his daydreaming is more than just idle wandering; instead it turns out to be a genuine super-power that allows him to enter the dreams of others and protect them from evil. Jake is a good protagonist and the writers make him easily relatable and likeable. The prose is crisp and clear, and Jones’ illustrations are quite lovely. Having this book as an FCBD is an excellent decision- it will appeal to readers of all ages, and this comic book “holiday” is important is reaching out to the younger demographic that comics needs in order to survive and thrive. Pick it up.
The folks at Archaia know this very well, and their FCBD book reflects that knowledge. Their MOUSE GUARD/DARK CRYSTAL FLIP BOOK is an excellent introduction to two of their strongest franchises… and more. David Petersen’s MOUSE GUARD gets a nifty short story that introduces the world, shows off his incredible art, and gives ample reason as to why you’d want to read more. THE DARK CRYSTAL gives the reader a taste of how the publisher has been handling their Jim Henson franchise of books, as they prepare to publish prequels to the beloved classic film. But that isn’t all- the company is adapting an unproduced Henson screenplay into an original graphic novel this fall, and this FCBD book has behind-the-scenes material on its origins and the production of it. Think that’s enough? You also get a new DAPPER MEN short story from Jim McCann and Janet Lee that takes off from the ending of the best-selling graphic novel. If you walk out of your store on FCBD without this book, you’re crazy.