Howdy! This page is part of a guide to comic books recommended for younger readers (along with some stuff their parents might like as well. This page covers the letter "D", other books are linked to below.

So, come celebrate that groovy, geeky, magical medium that we all grew up on... and share that special sense of wonder with someone smaller and newer than you. By the way, this is a work in progress, and your recommendations are always welcome... )








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"Diary Of A Wimpy Kid"
Written by Jeff Kinney
Illustrated by Jeff Kinney
(Abrams, 2007)

Greg Heffley is the kind of kid you probably want to keep your children away from, except chances are that if your kids are normal American rug-rats -- especially norman American adolescent boy rug-rats -- they are already just like him. Likewise, if you are a dutifully overprotectivoid parent, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid is the kind of book you might want to want to keep your little angels away from, but chances are that many of them have already read the book, since it is a national best-seller, wildly popular with the pre-teen crowd, as well as with the adult audience it was originally intended for. Wildly funny and refreshingly honest, Diary follows the mundane exploits of Greg, a marvelously flawed, utterly self-centered junior high student who always paints himself as the hero, whether he is being picked on by his older brother or if he himself is taking advantage of his best friend, Rowley, a neighborhood kid who Greg thinks is a dork and a simpleton. Originally conceived of as an online cartoon series, Diary is the bratty smaller cousin to the contemporary "young adult" novel boom: the themes are dark and cynical, but drugs and sex haven't entered into Greg's world yet, so there's still an innocence that is just as compelling as Greg's conniving narcissism. Writing in his journal, Greg mercilessly picks apart the foibles of his parents -- a humorless, lecturing mom and an utter patsy of a "nice" dad -- as well as his dopey, heavy metal-loving older brother and various and sundry teachers, etc. Greg has a harder time focussing his lens on himself and his peers: the same kind of manipulation you use on your family looks less cute when you try it out on your classmates, but Greg, the character, doesn't have the self-awareness to see what a rotten little punk he is. And that's the brilliance of this series: it's a joyful celebration of the clueless Eddie Haskell in us all, a Katzenjammer Kids for the 21st Century. Because of author/illustrator Jeff Kinney's utter honesty in presenting a real-live, all-American sneaky brat, the character leaps off the page from the very start. This is a version of adolescence that many people will identify with and remember all too clearly. We'll be charmed by Greg's callow selfishness and shake our heads fondly, remembering the days when we were just like that ourselves. Then we'll hide the book and hope to heaven that our kids'll never find it! It's a fun read. (B+)


"Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules"
Written by Jeff Kinney
Illustrated by Jeff Kinney
(Abrams, 2008)

This second volume of Wimpy Kid stories is just as compulsively readable as the first -- indeed, it reinvigorates the series a bit by focussing more attention on Greg's rotten older brother, Roderick, and delving into their ongoing sibling warfare. Roderick throws a Risky Business-style house party when the 'rents go out of town (and locks his little brother in the basement so he won't get in the way...) but Greg gets in trouble anyway, just because that's the way it works when you're a kid. Meanwhile, he's up to his usual hijinks at school and at home: Greg becomes popular after inventing a way to psychologically torture another kid by getting the whole school to pretend he doesn't exist; he has ongoing difficulty understanding why his durfy pal Rowley is so popular with the girls, and he frets endlessly that Roderick will "out" him over an embarrassing incident that happened over Summer vacation... Greg gives Roderick all kinds of power over him all year long (and won't tell us what happened, until the very end) and of course it turns out to be hardly anything at all -- just the kind of thing that a preteen kid would agonize over, although the panic doesn't really translate into the adult world. I have to admit, this series got to be a little exhausting after a while, although I read it from start to finish, unable to put it down. It's just that I had this nagging feeling that I should chase that kid away or call the cops or something... And what the heck is a twelve-year-old doing going out trick-or-treating, anyway? What a rotten kid! (PS - for more on the series, check out www.wimpykid.com ) (B+)


"Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (Book 3)"
Written by Jeff Kinney
Illustrated by Jeff Kinney
(Amulet Books, 2009)

(-)


"Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Book 4)"
Written by Jeff Kinney
Illustrated by Jeff Kinney
(Amulet Books, 2009)

(-)


"Diary Of A Wimpy Kid (Book 5)"
Written by Jeff Kinney
Illustrated by Jeff Kinney
(Amulet Books, 2010)

(Due out in November, 2010.) (-)


"Doctor Strange - Marvel Masterworks, v.1"
Written by Stan Lee
Illustrated by Steve Ditko
(Marvel Comics, 2010)

Out in paperback and no longer out of print, the classic 1960s adventures of Dr. Stephen Strange, master of the mystic arts... This was one of Marvel's most offbeat and visionary comicbook titles, with wild, imaginative stories and super-groovy artwork. The series lapsed into tedium, but these early adventures are a lot of fun. Maybe not suited to younger readers, but tweeny kids who are into Harry Potter and all that might get a kick out of the dimension-hopping Dr. Strange, in all his bright, primary color glory. Highly recommended! (A+)


"Duck Tales: Carl Barks' Greatest Duck Tales Stories, v.1"
Written And Illustrated by Carl Barks
(Gemstone, 2006)

A magnificent introduction to the world of Donald Duck, his misery Uncle Scrooge and their nephews, the intrepid Huey, Dewey and Louie. Many of these stories may be familiar to viewers of the 1980s animated TV series, Duck Tales, but these are the original versions of these stories, magnificent comic strips written and drawn in the 1950s by Carl Barks, the definitive Donald Duck artist. Included here are epic stories such as "Back To The Klondike," "Land Beneath The Ground," "Micro Ducks From Outer Space" and "Hound Of The Whiskervilles," which are all classics, and immensely fun. There are few comic books that I've enjoyed reading with my kid more than the Uncle Scrooge stories, and this is a first-class collection of some of the best Duck stories. Highly recommended. (A+)


"Duck Tales: Carl Barks' Greatest Duck Tales Stories, v.2"
Written And Illustrated by Carl Barks
(Gemstone, 2006)

The second volume of this series is equally delightful, with classics such as "The Giant Robot Robbers," in which the thieving Beagle Boys get the (giant-sized) upper-hand on Scrooge and the boys, "The Unsafe Safe," featuring the sorceress Magica De Spell, "The Status Seeker," in which Scrooge feels insecure about his social status, despite his enormous wealth, and "Tralla La," about Shangri-La-esque paradise where money has no value. It's all great stuff, although it should be noted that several of the stories, particularly "The Golden Fleecing," have some racial stereotypes that the more PC among us might want to vet first, before turning 'em over to small, impressionable minds. But in terms of sheer entertainment value, it's hard to beat Carl Barks at his peak. (A+)




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