Sunday, May 8, 2011

FCBD Preview, Part 6: Radical Free Book Day at comic shops

JAKE THE DREAMING FREE COMIC BOOK DAY PREVIEW  (Radical, May 2011):  Created & Written by Adam Freeman & Marc Bernardin.  Art by Andrew Jones.  Art Direction by Jeremy Berger. Design by Baptiste Ringot. . . . . . A selection of passages from JAKE THE DREAMING Young Adult Illustrated Novel coming in December 2011.

A review of JAKE THE DREAMING FCBD preview in the USA TODAY national newspaper implied that this could be the next “Harry Potter” in terms of popularity.  That may seem a little over the top, but if enough young readers were exposed to this it might just catch on.  It’s certainly worthy.  The art is fabulous, the story holds your attention, and the production values are extremely high.

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Ten-year old Jake and little sister Ella are used to fending for themselves and staying occupied. Their single parent mother has her hands full after starting a new job and moving her family to a new town at the same time.  Jake and Ella adjust to life in quiet Lumberton and handle the time alone without parental supervision in different ways.  Ella enjoys homework and study, which seems peculiar enough. Jake has a vivid imagination and spends much of his waking hours absorbed in creative daydreams, often getting carried away and having difficulty separating fantasy from reality.

Jake’s imaginative creativity stems from a more elaborate and special skill, one which didn’t manifest as often but is starting to work it’s way to the forefront more now that Jake is in a new setting.  Jake has the ability to enter the dreams of others and effect events.  Soon after discovering his deep-seated ability, Jake learns that he is “The Dreaming”  - - chosen for this role because he is needed to save the world from an evil threat.  The evil creature Nocturnus patrols the dream realm and hopes to obtain enough power to put the entire world to sleep forever.

JAKE THE DREAMING is lavishly illustrated, and seems to follow a format where two pages of text are followed by gorgeous two-page spreads of colorful art.  Even the text pages have smaller illustrations in sepia tones and the manila pages are a little shaded and faded, even frayed at edges to give the appearance of a old, bound manuscript.  And, just as Jake views reality and bends it to his vision while day-dreaming the art is not strictly straight-forward but seems to be a little interpretive, which should be both challenging and rewarding to readers - - giving them pause to thoroughly scrutinize the art pages before moving on. 

Rather than just reprint the first chapter of JAKE THE DREAMING, the FCBD preview offers excerpts from seven different chapters - - allowing it to showcase the diversity of art here as well as reveal the complexity of the storyline.  I  think it may be a little more challenging for those readers who haven’t yet reached the third or fourth grade in elementary school  - - but I’m thinking they will still want to make the effort  (and some will get help from their parents we hope and believe).  I’m going to keep my eye out for this when it debuts in December.

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This FCBD offering may be a little more difficult to find/locate.  It wasn’t part of the “Gold” offering to FCBD participating shops so order quantities were smaller than many of the other books.  My local source, Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark DE had just one copy.   That’s unfortunate, but maybe it can be rectified later if Radical decides to offer a second printing and Diamond agrees to solicit orders again. But, even though this should be of interest to comic shop customers, I have a feeling that Radical could attract even more attention to this upcoming book just by previewing it to some book stores as well as public and school libraries.  Even though it’s an “illustrated novel” rather than a graphic novel - -  the fabulous art as well as the fantasy story should attract a lot of new readers to similar fare in comics.  I’m thinking about offering my copy to Joe Murray, the co-owner of Captain Blue Hen.  He often works with local libraries to start up or expand their comics/graphic novel sections for young readers.  He just might want to show this around and see if any libraries want to order it.  Personal aside to Joe - - no pressure intended. Just thinking out loud and sharing here.   A book like this could be a door-opener for enticing younger readers into the world of comics.  I’m thinking of how the Harry Potter movies helped encourage even more young adults to pick up the books - - even though they had a good audience before then. Of course, that’s why they made the movies. Ditto for Twilight. 

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