There seems to be a resurgence in “all-ages” storytelling, and I applaud this development!
Let me be clear about something – just because something is “all-ages,” that doesn’t mean it’s been dumbed down for the kiddies. I often find the opposite to be true – these stories are often well done because they need to appeal to children and the adults who are likely to pick them out for their kids.
That’s the case with this wonderful book, just out this week!
Previously in HILO: “Introducing Hilo—a funny, action-packed, full-color new middle-grade graphic novel series that Bone creator Jeff Smith calls ‘delightful.’ D.J. and his friend Gina are totally normal kids. But that was before a mysterious boy came crashing down from the sky! Hilo doesn’t know where he came from, or what he’s doing on Earth. (Or why going to school in only your underwear is a bad idea!) . . . But what if Hilo wasn’t the only thing to fall to our planet? Can the trio unlock the secrets of his past? Can Hilo survive a day at school? And are D.J. and Gina ready to save the world?”
AN ENGAGING BOOK WITH GREAT CHARACTERS
I’ve been a fan of Judd Winick’s work for quite some time now. He’s written many great comics stories, including work on Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Batwing, Catwoman, Countdown to Infinite Crisis, The Trials of Shazam! and his very own The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius. What folks may not know is that he’s also an accomplished TV scripter, having created The Life and Times of Juniper Lee as well as writing the script for Batman: Under the Red Hood, and is currently serving as the head writer for The Awesomes, an animated series now airing on Hulu.
What’s enjoyable about his writing is that he can see the humor in situations and how characters would react to them. He brings that talent to bear in Hilo (pronounced “High-Low”) quite well.
The book begins with D.J. and Hilo running from a big robot, all the while yelling, “AAAHH!” Winick plays this to great comedic affect, and it pulls us into the story right away. It’s no coincidence that “AAAHH!” is also the title of the first chapter.
D.J. is quite a sympathetic character. He thinks that the only thing he can do well is be friends with Gina, who moves away after living next door to him during much of their early childhoods.
One day, D.J. finds Hilo, who has crashed to Earth. He feeds and clothes Hilo, and they become fast friends. But Hilo has an interesting past, and it will plunge D.J. into an adventure he didn’t expect!
The pacing is quick and strong, with wonderful comedy as well as drama and action taking place. I don’t have any kids, but I imagine anyone from the age of 10 and older will find the script powerful and engrossing. I think the characters are also well done, telling us what we need to know now with hints about what we’ll encounter soon provided as well.
The humor is what kids would love, including burping, passing out and getting dressed. Hey, even a grown-up like me enjoyed it!
STRONG VISUALS TO MATCH THE SCRIPT
Winick has long been a great illustrator as well as writer, and he has fun with the faces of the characters while making us feel the activity taking place as well.
He makes the eyes of the characters take a “Batman”-like quality in that sometimes the eyes are just white circles while other times the pupils are visible when needed to convey an expression. Winick also portrays the various emotions well, so it’s works well on the printed page.
THE BOTTOM LINE: ‘All-Ages’ Includes You!
If you like an entertaining story that appeals to kids as well as adults, Hilo is the perfect book for you! This is the first volume, so I expect many more to come! It’s also the perfect time to get on board!
Hilo may be found in your local comics shop, but it could also be located in your neighborhood book store. If neither option works, then go to Amazon.com to order yours. Everyone you know will get a kick out of this first volume in what I’m sure will be a long-lived, successful series of books!
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