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Minneapolis based comic book artist Tyler Page, illustrator of one of Graphic Universe’s most popular series—Chicagoland Detective Agency—has come up with a novel idea about how to distribute his original graphic novel series called Stylish Vittles: He’s just giving it away. More specifically, Page has announced he’ll offer a special 10thanniversary issue as a free e-book.          (see Comic Book Resources or tylerpage.tumblr.com/)

Page explains, “Ten years ago I published a book called Stylish Vittles: I Met a Girl. It was the beginning of my professional comics career. (I have) put together a 10th Anniversary Collection e-Book which includes all three original books, as well as the conclusion that came years later: Stylish Vittles 4 – Behind the Page: The Saga of Rob Harvard.”  Additionally, Page is offering a few generous bonuses. One is a “director’s cut” e-book –a condensed version of the original book that is presented in “a shorter, simpler narrative”. And the other— if you want just the opposite—is Page’s “Deluxe Collection” which includes two appendices containing as he puts it, “almost one thousand pages of process material —outlines, scripts, sketches, layouts, etc. (and) all of the material I did which led up to the creation of the Stylish Vittles books.”

This cool gesture is sure to delight fans of Page as well as anyone who just wants to enjoy reading an original comic book series and get a glimpse at the “behind-the-scenes” process of a talented graphic novelist.

On any given spring weekend in New York the city comes alive with street fairs and conventions. Last weekend (April 28-29), Graphic Universe was right smack in the middle of one such festival. The annual Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) fest, taking place at the historic 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue, was center stage for aspiring and seasoned comic book artists alike to show off their wares and expand networking. It was also a perfect place for comic book aficionados just to take in a festive atmosphere.

      

Carol Burrell with GU authors Lars Jakobsen and Colleen AF Venable.    

This year Graphic Universe had prime real estate at the event as well some notable GU authors and illustrators on hand. A continual stream of interest surrounded our booth with special guests like Lars Jakobsen who came all the way from Denmark. He was there to promote his much anticipated, upcoming time-traveling-detective series Mortensen’s Escapades, which is expected to be released this September. Lars also demonstrated his impressive drawing chops by offering free sketches to convention goers. And then there was the always effervescent Colleen AF Venable of Guinea PIg fame—one of Graphic Universe’s favorite and bestselling authors. And to round off the booth was the much admired GU illustrator Alitha Martinez, whose My Boyfriend Bites (from My Boyfriend is a Monster series) was one of the most requested titles there. Other well-received books were The Girl Who Owned A City: The Graphic Novel, and series Lou!, The ElseWhere Chronicles, Nola’s Worlds, and Miss Annie.

Although tiny compared to the New York Comic Con, this fun little convention packs a punch when it comes to artistry and earnestness in comics and graphic novels. Graphic Universe is always proud to be part of it.

Did you miss the May issue of School Library Journal?  Don’t worry, here’s a recap of the Graphic Universe titles that were profiled.

 The Ferret’s a Foot
by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Stephanie Yue

This makes an amiable addition to the series. Guinea pig detective Sasspants and his manic hamster assistant, Hamisher, are among the animals living in absent-minded Mr. Venezi’s pet shop. When Mr. V seeks help to run his business better, the animals get nervous–they don’t want to be sold. While Pants and Hamisher try to keep the status quo, a vandal begins changing the signs on the animals’ cages, making it more likely that Mr. V will hire someone. The guinea-pig detective and his partner are soon on the case, eventually discovering that not every animal is content with the pet shop as a permanent home. The mystery, while uncomplicated and dotted with humorous moments, still allows for some basic deductive reasoning as readers search for the culprit. Back matter includes more information on ferrets and a glossary of mystery terms. The soft-hued illustrations are crisp, giving off an animation look that’s easy on the eyes. The panel layout is clear, but the repeated use of “talking head” close-ups does get a bit monotonous. It’s unfortunate that the artist didn’t break free of the grid for more wide-angle views to provide visual context. Kids who have a thing for pets (which is a sizable group) and a hankering for humor will likely take to this title.

–Travis Jonker, Dorr Elementary School, MI

The Maltese Mummy
by Trina Robbins, illustrated by Tyler Page

If Rob Reger’s Emily the Strange accessorized, swept her bangs to the side, and got an extra-strength dose of perkiness, she would be very much like Megan Yamamura, one of the partners in the Chicagoland Detective Agency. Megan’s adventures with Raf and his talking dog, Bradley, continue in this installment when a teen rock idol has a suspicious connection to a mummy at the museum’s ancient Egyptian exhibition. While the characters are in high school and the black-and-white artwork at first glance seems to lean toward edgier fare, the Goth look is actually cheerful and supports the juvenile humor quite well. Examples of tween-centric touches include Bradley collapsing a dinosaur skeleton because he cannot resist a bone, riffs on Humphrey Bogart-inspired film noir, obvious red herrings, and an easily recognizable villain from the previous book. Those who want plots that are more Scooby Doo than Nancy Drew will enjoy this silly romp of a mystery.

–Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library

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