Stone Arch Books, imprint of Capstone Press, recently released a new series of comics/graphic novels called Good vs Evil. Each book has two storylines, one pictured above each other. The top panels show the story from the antagonist's point of view (in reddish hues), while the bottom panels reveal the perspective of the protagonist. You can read each line one at a time or look at both top and bottom panels at the same time. What results is an interesting glimpse into the different perspectives held by different characters.
I've read two books from the series so far: Alien Snow and The Awakening.
In Alien Snow, a young boy, Noah, enters a shop to buy a spaceship model. But instead of selling him the model, the shop owner makes Noah look into a snow globe and traps him inside it. It turns out that the shop owner is an evil alien collecting human specimens.
The Awakening is set in Tokyo, where a girl finds a tape player at the subway. When she turns the music on, a monster under the subway wakes up and hunts her down.
At the end of each book is a 'visual glossary' that points out details in the illustrations that give you clues about the story's setting and foreshadowing as well as particular drawing techniques and their purpose. 'Visual questions' are also listed at the end of the books -- questions about the illustrations, plot, title, and author's intent in using certain images. For example, one question suggests that the reader run the words 'alien snow' together when saying it to see if they can figure out another meaning to the title (sounds like 'aliens know'). Include is also information on how the book (or comics in general) are created, from manuscript to pencil drawings to adding colour.
I really liked how the stories were told mainly through illustrations (there's very little narration or dialogue) and the endings were open ended (and a bit bizarre and disturbing!). I found that these aspects, combined with the different perspectives pictured by the two storylines, really made me engage with the plot more, requiring me to slow down to decipher what was really going on. At first glance I thought the double storyline would be a bit gimmicky, but after actually reading the books, I found I liked comparing the different viewpoints. I think this series opens the way for some good discussion and would be great for upper elementary/teen bookclubs or school novel studies. And I think think kids and teens will totally eat them up...
Thank you to Stone Arch Books, imprint of Capstone Press, for making copies of these books available to the Boys Do Read Blog writers.
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