It’s the Fall, and as the colours turn from the lush greens of summer to the vivid rusty reds and browns of the season, so too do young minds turn to Halloween, surely the best of the children-orientated holidays after Christmas. Better than Easter, definitely! And so, to mark this year’s All Hallow’s Eve, Humanoids Kids have published an all new anthology of stories aimed at younger readers.
With art provided by Olivier Boiscommun on all three stories (and providing the scripts two) this is a coherent book style-wise, and even script wise there seems to be familiar themes running across each story. Not the obvious themes associated with Halloween either, but the theme of friendship which stood out to me the most. These ain’t the stories of haunting and horror you may imagine, but rather stories that are touching and moving that just happen to have a shared context. The artworks pretty damn beautiful too, with a mix of styles all from the one artist.
So, in the first tale, Halloween, we have a lonely girl all dressed up for Halloween but having just lost her brother. A sad tale, but one in which she is befriended by a ghost who, like those of A Christmas Carol, are not necessarily spooky (alright, The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come in the Dickens classic is spooky, I’ll admit), offers some guidance, through rhyme at that, to this lonely little soul. It’s heart-warming and therefore not what you would expect from such an anthology.
And this theme of friendship through hardship defines the second tale too, The Story of Joe, as well as the final in this trilogy of tales, The Book of Jack. But, that’s not a theme I want to dwell on as it’s an all too obvious theme, but one that I am sure young children – particularly any kids who feel isolated, or even socially awkward – can take some solace from.
Ghost, vampires and monsters all feature within these pages, but the artwork by Boiscommun is remarkable as he adopts different styles for each of these tales. Halloween is a beautifully painted story that is awash with the colours of autumn and decaying urban facades. The friendly ghost is more akin to a street mime artist than Caspar, and the page layouts and composition favours the bold and big over compresses pages and cluttered panels, allowing each page, and the emotional overtones to breath and be marvelled upon.
The Story of Joe, is illustrated in grey and white washes, giving it the sense of being from a bygone era. But then, all three stories, due to the architectural details that fill up the backgrounds, are timeless. While, the final story (The Book of Jack, written by D-P Filippi) is the less impressive, colour wise only, because of the feast of delicate colours and grey, moody washes present in the first two stories. But, it wouldn’t be out of place in your average American comic. It’s just that the colours on the first two tales are that good.
With the appropriate level of supernatural monsters and things that go bump in the night about it all, this would be an ideal alternative to allowing your kids to gorge themselves on corn syrup filled candies this Halloween. They may well be tales wrapped up under the umbrella of ‘Halloween’ but they are universal tales of kids everywhere. Kids having to show their worth to their peers by taking on daring challenges, or kids trying to cope with bereavement. And, as such, these are stories for all year round and not just once a year.
Both spooky and sentimental, but not saccharine. And, out now priced $23.99/£20.99 from Humanoids Kids.
Olly MacNamee 10009 Views