Monday, April 2, 2007


Owly by Andy Runton

Unless you’ve been living under a comic-free rock, you’ve most likely heard of Andy Runton’s Owly. In a comic world dominated by hyper-violent, sexually charged stories aimed strictly at adults, it’s amazing that these sweet stories of a kind little owl and his forest friends have become a breakout hit. Owly even has his own laser show!

Owly, our hero, must overcome the owl’s fearsome reputation as a predator to make friends with loveable little forest creatures such as worms, hummingbirds, and raccoons. The deceptively simple black and white art and lack of text make this perfect for even the littlest kids, but adults love it just as much. Shelby read Owly to her two and three-year-old cousins, and Sarah read it to her grandmother, and everyone is in love with Andy’s work.

Why are these sweet stories so popular? Part of the appeal of bigtime “all ages” fare like Pixar movies is that the kids can enjoy it on one level, while there are plenty of wink-wink-nudge-nudge jokes for adults. Owly, however, has none of that, which is what makes it so remarkable. Andy Runton writes stories that are completely devoid of any angst, snarkiness, or irony – they are genuine tales of a truly loveable character with a pure heart. The tension in these stories arises from misunderstandings between characters or from their struggles with the forces of nature, not from villains and evil plots. Problems are resolved by acts of kindness and, of course, there’s always a happy ending. While many comics aimed at kids are like Pop Rocks – lots of fizz and too much sugar – Owly stories are like good chocolate – rich and complex, just sweet enough, and thoroughly satisfying.

Owly is such a big hit around here that the girls have made plenty of Owly drawings and paintings, Owly and Wormy hair clips, an Owly sleep mask, embroidered Owly kitchen towels, and Owly baby blankets to give as gifts. Shelby has even created an Owly costume to wear to Comic-Con.

Visit Andy and Owly at

Shelby says: Owly is about a friendly owl who saves a worm from a flood. The worm’s name is Wormy. Soon they become best friends! They meet all kinds of other birds, other insects, and mammals. It’s one of the best books for kids (or anyone) because there are no words. The only things in the speech bubbles are pictures or symbols. I read them to my little cousins and they love them! They kept saying, “Let’s read another one!” and, “Read it again!” It’s one of my favorite books (and my sister’s and my mom’s and my little cousin’s) ever! I‘ll even recommend it to friends! The art is sooo cute that you can’t even believe your eyes. Speaking of eyeballs, Owly’s eyes cover most of his head. It looks almost manga because of the eyes on Owly, and the tears on all of the characters when they’re crying. I draw a lot from this book. I LOVE IT!

Sarah says: I like Owly because he always helps other nature animals and always cares about other things. One thing I like about Owly is that I know how he feels by his faces that he makes. Like gloomy faces, happy faces, or loving faces. He takes time to grow flowers while he’s waiting for his hummingbird friends to come back. It’s very easy to understand and there are pictures in the word bubbles instead of words. My favorite character in Owly is Wormy. I like Wormy because he’s really cute, he’s always loveable, and he believes in Owly.


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