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To Be Read by Flashlight

(This  Stripped column originally appeared in the July 24-30, 1997 Long Island Voice. Click on the artwork for a larger image.)

by Beth Hannan Rimmels


"Crime-fighting technology is useless without good citizenship. And a superhero's work is never done. Especially his laundry. I'm covered in the paint of villainy."

— The Tick in "A World of Pain[t]" from Fox Kids Funhouse #1

Yeah, yeah, yeah comics aren't just for kids. For you slow readers who haven't figured this out yet, that's my mantra. But then I run across a slew of cool books that are aimed at the ankle biters among us, and I remember what got me started in the first place. Soon I get lost in my reading, blissfully rediscovering gentle, innocent stories rather than the usual subversive, bloodthirsty books I favor, like Preacher. Can't get more subversive than hunting down God to make Him account for His indiscretions. But I digress. Sample my summer discoveries and find out what discriminating little buggers are reading under the covers:

Akiko (Sirius, $2.50). Mark Crilley's all-ages creation is utterly delightful. Akiko is a fourth-grader who regularly visits the planet Smoo (a robot takes her place so her parents don't worry), an elliptical world filled with magical creatures. Reminds me a bit of L. Frank Baum's novels chronicling Dorothy's adventures in the Land of Oz. Akiko is a terribly good-natured little girl with uncommon ingenuity. Gentle but exciting stories for boys and girls. Akiko Volume One ($14.95) collects issues #1-7.

Disney's Enchanting Stories and Disney's Action Club (Acclaim, $4.50). These illustrated story collections debuted last month with an emphasis on Hercules, to tie into the film. Each book is aimed at a single gender, but I think girls might enjoy some Action Club stories like the Lion King tale and boys might like "A Torch for Meg" and laugh at "Not So Good Morning" though "Indian Fashion" would probably bore them. True to Disney form, all are wholesome without talking down.

Reality Check (Sirius, $2.95). Kids are wild about Reality Check. In the near future, you'll be able to access the Virtual Internet System (VIS) and interact via avatars [graphic alter egos] representing you, but the avatars can look like anything. Collin Meeke had fun on the VIS until his pet cat, Catreece, decided to plug in, too. Online, she's a humanoid cat-girl with a knack for trouble and hijinks. Kids' fascination baffles grown-ups a la Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Lively, colorful and harmless.

Fox Kids Funhouse Fox Kids Funhouse (Acclaim, $4.50). Several stories based on Fox cartoons. I was only ever so fond of Bobby's World and Life With Louie, but the stories here are fun, particularly the Bobby entry Straight Flush. But my fave is "The Tick: A World of Pain(t)," written by a personal rave, Dwayne McDuffle.

DC Comics has a new line of comic books tying into Cartoon Network shows. I haven't seen all of them yet, but they're basically true to the cartoons, which is great if you adore the Jetsons or Flintstones; not as good if, like my husband, you were never fond of Scooby-Doo. I have more mixed feelings about DC's Animaniacs book. When it's done right, it's like a hand-held episode of the multi-layered TV show. But they assume the comic has a kid-only audience. Go figure.


Column 1997 Long Island Voice. Akiko 1997 Mark Crilley. Reality Check  1997 Sirius Comics. Fox Kids Funhouse 1997 Acclaim Comics/Fox Kids.