Monday, April 2, 2007

Bumperboy & Sweaterweather

Bumperboy and the Loud, Loud Mountain by Debbie Huey (AdHouse Books)

One of our favorite graphic novels ever is Bumperboy Loses His Marbles, which Debbie Huey published using her Xeric grant. When we heard that there was another book on the way, we made a beeline for Debbie Huey’s Comic-Con booth to pick it up. Bumperboy and the Loud, Loud Mountain is just as fun as the first book and unexpectedly touching as well. When Sarah finished reading it she walked up to me with tears in her eyes and exclaimed, “This book is so good it made me cry!”

The character design of Bumperboy and Bumperpup are enough to make me love these books, but the stories are just as satisfying. Debbie’s art is deceptively simple – there’s a lot more going on than the cuteness might lead you to believe – and the panel layouts are some of the most creative and effective I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking for a way to hook little kids (or big kids!) on comics, these books make a perfect gift. Visit Debbie, Bumperboy, and Bumperpup at

Sarah says: Bumperboy and the Loud, Loud Mountain is a great story for all ages. It’s a story about Bumperboy and Bumperpup, his dog. Bumperboy is a boy who explores borp holes, which are things that take people to different lands. Bumperpup always goes with Bumperboy and they’re best friends. The story is they find a borp hole that leads them to a talking mountain. They become friends and try to find out what’s behind the mountain and why all his brothers and sisters are sleeping all the time. It sort of makes you cry, but the happy way, because the ending feels so real. You should also read Bumperboy Loses His Marbles because it’s as good as the second one, but it doesn’t make you cry.

Shelby says: So far there are two books of Bumperboy. Bumperboy is a boy who wears a white suit and he has a pet dog that wears a white suit. The new book is called Bumperboy and the Loud, Loud Mountain. There are these Grum trees and creatures called Grums. They’re like little marshmallow dudes. Some kinds have ears and some don’t so they speak Bumperpup’s language, which is all pictures. I liked it because the art is very, very cute and the evil dude in it looks very lanky and very mysterious with his moustache. If your kids like to draw this is the perfect thing for them to practice drawing – it’s not really hard, and it’s cute. The story is entertaining and everyone would like it – all, all, all ages!

Sweaterweather by Sara Varon (Alternative Comics)

This is one of the few new finds we made at Comic-Con. I saw Sweaterweather sitting on the table between Owly and Spiralbound, so I picked it up and thumbed through it. I was immediately drawn to the illustrations and intrigued by the mix of short stories, paper dolls, stamps, and postcards. I bought it and read it over lunch because I couldn’t wait!

Sweaterweather definitely has an “indy” sensibility and style. Most of the stories are printed in dark blue and Varon makes liberal use of her brush, solidly filling in the backgrounds of many of the panels. Many of the stories are wordless, but when she uses lettering, she makes it an integral part of the art. The characters are mostly animals (rabbits, dogs, turtles, sheep, raccoons, and more) but also include a snowman, a beekeeper, and Sara herself. The stories are original -- there’s a terrific and very educational piece about beekeeping, a couple of stories about making soup, and a story about pawning a pie eating contest ribbon to make rent.

While Sweaterweather is an all ages book, there are a couple small items to watch for. One story involves a snowman who smokes, but it ends badly for him so I’m guessing that it won’t encourage smoking. Also, in one story the characters are reading magazines and one of them is clearly titled, “Bitch” and there’s a copy of Playboy displayed at a supermarket checkout. Neither of the girls noticed, but if you’re considering buying this book for someone else’s kids you should be aware of it.

Sweaterweather is different and charming and will certainly appeal to adults as well as kids. Visit Sara at

Sarah says: Sweaterweather is stories that are combined that don’t have to go together. I thought it was going to be a really long story, like Spiralbound, but it was a bunch of little stories and I liked it that way because it’s different than most large-looking books. It’s a picture graph in most of the stories, but in two of them it has words. It also has arts and crafts in the back like paper dolls, postcards, and stamps. I want to cut them out a little later. The art is special because it only has simple shapes. My favorite story was the public pool story. A turtle and a sheep build a pool in Chickenopolis and almost everyone comes to swim. I like it because it shows how you can make money and have fun at the same time.

Shelby says: We found Sweaterweather at Comic-Con. My mom picked it up and she said, “Wow, this looks really good. Let’s get it.” So we did. When we got home, I read it, and it was good! There are no speech bubbles, there are just words that are right next to the characters who are speaking. Some of the stories have no words at all. At the back, there’s a bit of learning because the author went to a beekeeper and learned how to take care of bees and get the honey without getting stung. She wrote all about how the box that they keep the bees in works, and how to tell apart different kinds of bees, and I learned that the queen bee does not wear a crown, she’s just a regular bee that is slightly bigger than the rest and she lays all of the eggs.

In one of the stories, each panel has something about a letter of the alphabet. For example, the first one says, “Are you ready?” for the letter A and the second panel has, “Be here soon” for B. Some of them don’t have any speaking, like for F there is a flower shop. It goes all the way to Z. When I read it, I thought it was just a regular story, but the last panel says that every panel has the next letter of the alphabet, so I read it again. She’s really good because you probably won’t know which story it is!

The art is very good but in an odd way. She was probably using a brush pen because sometimes the edges are a little bit rough and they’re not exactly straight. But that makes it look like a cartoon – it doesn’t look real, which is nice. It’s pretty much for everyone – little kids will like it because it’s cute and they can make up their own words for some of the stories, and grown-ups would like it because it’s different and the stories are good.


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