Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman
Posted by Alysa Stewart
This is a fun book. Fun and silly.
It begins with an introduction to the academy -- almost a pamphlet for prospective students and their parents ("Only Astronaut Academy is tops with the learning!"). We quickly find out that the school floats in space and is the academic home of many quirky kids. None is so mysterious as Hakata Soy . . .
Rather than being one long comic, the book is made up of loads of short comic scenes from different perspectives -- some as short as a page, others more chapter length. This made me wonder if it was originally published serially, and lo and behold, the answer is yes. This is a webcomic compilation.
Over the course of the book we learn more and more about Hakata Soy and his past. Though Hakata is the main character, we also learn a lot about Maribelle Mellonbelly (rich girl extraordinaire) and her nemesis Miyumi San, and (my personal favorite) loner Doug Hiro.
High wacky factor is going to make it a big hit with some kids -- the dinosaur racing was a highlight for me. But all sorts of fun shenanigans go down: watches that can freeze time, androids programmed for revenge, fireball fists, the giving away of literal hearts as a token of affection. Yes I can see this one really taking off with the middle school crowd.
I first saw Dave Roman's work in the anthology Nursery Rhyme Comics. Don't tell the other cartoonists who contributed, but Roman's rhyme is my favorite. Completely original.
Give this one to those who like their chicken nuggets with a side of random-sauce. Fans of Bone might like it. Recommended.