Oct 15, 2015
On this episode of The Comics Alternative‘s “Young Readers” series, Gwen and Andy are back to take a look at two books about robots. (They didn’t plan it that way, really.) Both titles actually have more in common than just robots in that they each address issues of friendship, belonging, and how technology has changed our lives and the lives of our youth. Both books also contain strong young female protagonists whose friends aren’t always human. Gwen starts things off with a look at Veda: Assembly Required (Dark Horse), by Samuel Teer, Hyeondo Park, and Kelly Fitzpatrick. Gwen and Andy both thought the premise of a young girl raised by robots in a factory was interesting and perhaps not as dystopian as you might think. The use of icons as a communication device takes a bit of getting used to, but most readers will quickly adapt to them and will no doubt find they are an essential component of the story. For younger readers, Andy describes Ben Hatke’s new book, Little Robot (First Second), a project writer and illustrator Ben Hatke discussed briefly with the Two Guys in an interview from last year. In this new, largely wordless graphic novel, Hatke takes readers on a journey from the trailer park to a junkyard where a young girl discovers a set of tools and a new friend in the form of a little lost robot. But someone else is looking for this robot, someone whose intentions are not as friendly as our young protagonist. Gwen and Andy discuss not only Hatke’s wonderful artistic and storytelling abilities, but also the fact that he has chosen a young African American girl as his protagonist, something no one else in the comics world seems to be talking about. Hmmm…. In all, Gwen and Andy find it fascinating that both books — by different creators working in different styles — speak to some universal truths of friendship, social constructs, and finding your place in the world. And since we are just a few weeks away from Halloween, Gwen and Andy decided to hand out a few early treats (no tricks, we promise!) in the form of some spooky graphic novel suggestions for teens and younger readers.