Princess Decomposia And Count Spatula

Image By First Second Books

Andi Watson has created a creepy-cute romance with the new graphic novel, Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula. The Princess is overwhelmed taking care of the business of the Underworld while her father convalescences in bed and complains about his food. In comes a pastry chef vampire, Count Spatula, who sees the stress the Princess is under, and tries to help.

Andi was kind enough to answer a few questions about this sweet gothic tale.

GEEKMOM: What was your inspiration for the story and characters?

ANDI WATSON: As always with a book, several different elements have to come together to spark things off. Most importantly I wanted to create a full length graphic novel for the first time in my career, a challenge I hadn’t met after many years of making comics. At first I was a bit intimidated, knowing I’d have to write the whole thing ahead of time, but that became an advantage as I could go back and forth over the course of the story, adding and taking away scenes and dialogue. I loved being able to clearly see the overall shape of the story, something it’s quite hard to do when I’m serialising. The other inspirations came from my sketchbooks. Both Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula had been lurking in the pages in separate stories for years, but neither of their stories worked alone. It was only when I put them together that the book fell into place. I love it when that happens.

GM: Did you see romance right away for the Princess and Count?

ANDI: One of things I wanted to achieve with the book was tell a relationship story, a romance that would be fun to write and draw. I’ve told “real world” romance stories before, and enjoyed writing the dialogue and creating characters. The slight downside is that I’ve found them a bit less fun to draw. It’s often two or more people in a room talking. That’s a real challenge to keep visually interesting, so I wanted to combine a relationship story with a strong visual element and I found I enjoyed drawing the spooky stuff. Having more freedom to play visually and allowing my imagination a bit more of a free reign was a real treat. That the Princess has the cute bat-wing hair and the Count is a vampire made it extra fun to draw. Add to that, designing all the other characters and I had a blast.

GM: The relationship between the Princess and King changes over the course of the book. What’s the message about father/daughter dynamics?

ANDI: Yes, I thought it would be interesting to explore the family dynamics of who’s in charge and who is driving things behind the scenes. The child has adult responsibilities without being allowed her own choices, while the King enjoys power with none of the obligations. The adult is the child and vice-versa. The shape of the story follows how that balance changes. I’m not sure I have a message about father/daughter dynamics, although I am interested in them, being dad to a daughter myself. One thing that strikes you as a parent very early on is how much and how little power you have over your kids. On the one hand you’re completely responsible for every aspect of their lives, on the other you can’t make a child eat, you can’t make them sleep, and you can’t make them stop crying. You are utterly helpless, as any parent with a crying toddler on a long haul flight knows!  As children grow up that divide is less stark but you’re still trying to juggle how much responsibility to give a child and also the anxiety that comes from letting them go little by little. Perhaps this whole book is about my daughter becoming a teenager and my wanting to take to my bed and hide!

GM: The Count’s fun desserts like Mud Monster Cake and Lemon Drizzle Cake were charming to see and imagine the taste! Do you bake? What’s your favorite dessert to make or eat?

ANDI: Yes, I began baking with my daughter when she was little. We both enjoyed making a mess and eating the results. I hadn’t baked since school so it was the perfect way to begin again as the emphasis was on fun and play, not on some exquisitely presented end product. As long as it was edible we were happy. I’ve continued baking over the years, which is why it was a joy to invent the Count’s set-piece desserts. My job was to flick through recipe books and doodle ideas in my sketchbook… it was tough, I tell you. Sadly, my own skills fall well short of the Count’s, but I do enjoy making quick and simple recipes like cookies, rock cakes, fairy cakes and the like. I’ll have a go with fondant icing for birthdays. Past projects have included Minions from Despicable Me and a crash landed Tardis. I also made a traditional Yule log over Christmas that turned out all right. The recipe my family likes best is a chocolate cake with Terry’s Chocolate Orange ganache. Super sweet and easy to make.

GM: Finally, what project are you currently working on?

ANDI: I have a couple of books in the bag, including my webcomic Princess Midnight which finishes up at the end of January. I’ve also finished a graphic novel for grown ups that I’m hoping to find a publisher for. As for brand new stuff, I’ve finished writing another spooky graphic novel that I’ll start drawing and aim to have done by the summer.

GM: Thanks, Andi!

Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula comes out February 24th by First Second. GeekMom received a copy for review purposes.

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review Presents Macbeth

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Image by First Second.

“I like how it got all the plot points across, but kept it kid-friendly.”

This was my son’s comment after reading The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth by Ian Lendler and Zack Giallongo. He recently took a Shakespeare course, and Macbeth was one of the plays studied, so I was curious about his take on this graphic novel. My son gave it a thumbs up.

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Review Presents Macbeth is a First Second offering for this fall that will appeal to Shakespeare fans of all ages, but especially the younger set just meeting the Bard. This version is full of animals, food, and humor.

The story takes place in a zoo, where the animals put on shows for each other after the human crowds go home. The audience is as much fun as the cast, with silly-to-witty commentary throughout. I particularly liked the little aside from the vultures with their opera glasses:

“Ooh! I love the witches look!”
“They say warts are the new black.”

Macbeth is played by a lion who thinks he loves food more than anything until he meets the witches, and realizes he’s really hungry for power! However, he would have to eat the king to become king himself. He talks to his wife, Lady Macbeth the leopard (out damn spot… hee-hee!), who hands him a cookbook, “100 Ways To Cook A King,” suggesting they saute in lemon-butter sauce.

“But still, Macbeth refused. Eating someone just didn’t seem polite.”

He finally relents and eats the king: “What follows was horrible and gruesome and definitely the best scene in the whole play…” But of course, we don’t see it because the elephant shows up right then to see the play and blocks the whole stage.

And so the silliness continues in this amusing version of classic theater. The artwork bounds through the pages, with the dialogue and narration clear, but with a kid-friendly twist. Like the best animated movies, the jokes are on a couple of levels, so parents reading this to their children will find it just as fun.

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth comes out the end of this month, recommended for ages seven and up. Check it out!

GeekMom received a copy for review purposes.

Son of Batman Review

Son of Batman \ Image: Amazon
Son of Batman \ Image: Amazon

DC Comics’ latest animated movie, Son of Batman, follows the first significant moments in Batman’s relationship with his headstrong son, Damien. Even though it’s based on the book, Batman: Batman and Son by Grant Morrison, I can count on one hand how many similarities there are between the book and the animated movie.

The movie starts with an introduction to the League of Assassins and the Al Gul family. Ra’s Al Ghul, family head and leader of the League, is attacked by his former right hand man turned mercenary, Slade Wilson (AKA Deathstroke). One thing leads to another and we find Talia in need of a safe place for her son and everybody knows that there is no safer place than with Batman.

What bothers me most about this movie isn’t that it doesn’t follow the book, but how Damien was conceived and how Batman remembers it (or lack thereof).

When Talia brings Batman aboard her vessel after saving his life against Killer Croc, she asks her beloved (as she affectionately calls him) if he would like a drink. Batman replies with a curt no, because he remembers what happened last time he accepted a drink from her, to which she replies (while hanging on him like a cheap date), “Oh yes. I slipped something into it. It wasn’t all bad though was it?”

To break this down, Talia just admitted to slipping a drug into Batman’s drink and then something physically happening between them. In other words, she raped him.

Now, rape is a touchy topic in all circles, not just comics. Usually the one getting raped though is a female character. In this case we have a male character who was sexually violated and how does he respond? “No. It wasn’t all bad.”

So, he went from being a victim of rape, to being okay with what happened because he ended up having a good time.

This isn’t the first time a male character has been raped recently in a movie/television storyline, and for whatever reason the writers chose to ignore how the character would truly feel after such an experience.

It plays out a bit differently in the book with Batman being held down by man-bat-ninja-assassins and telling Talia (rather angrily) that he remembers being “drugged senseless and refusing to co-operate in some depraved eugenics experiment.” To which Talia replies,”We chose you, the perfect man, to breed the perfect heir to the empire of Ra’s Al Ghul. And believe me, you cooperated magnificently.”

Batman Talia Scene Image Kindle
What was wrong with Batman getting angry over what Talia did to him? \ Image: Kindle

Anyone else see something wrong with this?

What was so wrong with Batman’s legitimate anger at being sexually abused that made the movie writers go, “Nah! Let’s have him enjoy it in the end.”

Once the scene is over, the movie picks up the pace and adds some humor to the mix.

Batman has a few sarcastic moments and Nightwing has a strong presence as well. Damien is the star of the show though and is a hard-headed brat with more of his mother in him than desirable. He has some of his father in him as well; it just takes certain events and some “quality” time with Batman to bring them out in him.

My favorite scene is when Nightwing calls Batman on the phone to ask if he’s “misplaced” something. Nightwing’s physical appearance and Damien’s scowl made me laugh.

Other than that one scene (and Talia’s forgetting to zip up her shirt to cover her always perky, front-and-center boobs), the movie was really good. It’s not as gruesome as Flashpoint Paradox, but it does have its moments that are not for the faint of heart. In the end, I’ve decided that his is one of those rare cases where I recommend you skip the book all together and go straight to the movie.

Son of Batman is available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Father’s Day Gift Guide–Bookworm Edition

These dads are pretty cool! Images Courtesy of 501st Legion Troopers
These dads are pretty cool! Images Courtesy of (top left to bottom right) Scott Will, Savanna Kiefer, Gary Collins, and Bryan Sithari.

Welcome to the Father’s Day Gift Guide for bookworm dads. Here you will find our favorite books for our dads. We hope you will consider them for yours.

Avengers vs. X-Men Companion: For the Marvel dad, check out the Avengers vs. X-Men Companion. This hardbound, limited edition combines all the tie-ins to the Avengers vs. X-Men event. Complete with a digital copy, this is a must have for any Marvel dad. $58.00

Grimm Fairy Tale Omnibus: The Grimm Fairy Tale Omnibus collects the first 50 issues of Zenescope’s acclaimed Grimm Fairy Tales series. Coming in at 8 lbs, this is a heavy but enjoyable comic book for any dad. $40.00

Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero: The ultimate history book for Superman fans is here and just recently released in a softcover format. $13.00 and up

For the Star Wars dad, check out Star Wars: Legacy Volume 1–Broken: Broken v. 1, Heirs of the force: Young Jedi Knights #1 and Heir to the Empire: Star Wars (The Thrawn Trilogy): Star Wars, Volume I all come highly recommended by 501st Legion troopers and fans alike. Various prices

Saga Vol. 1 and Vol. 2: Saga is one of the hottest comic books currently on comic book shelves. Help dad get caught up in the story by picking him up Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 from the bookstore. $10.00 and up

DC Comics Trades: For the DC Comics Dad, Animal Man and Swamp Thing both come highly recommended. I’ve read the first few issues of Swamp Thing and Scott Snyder (Batman) has me hooked! $15.00 and up

Superman: Birthright: It’s rumored that The Man of Steel was partially based off of Superman: Birthright. What better way to prepare dad for the movie than to pick it up for him? I’ve read this title myself and absolutely loved it! $16.00

Backyard Ballistics: This title, by William Gurstelle, is revised with new and expanded projects to make using inexpensive household or hardware store materials. Match-powered rockets, dry cleaning bag balloon, tennis ball mortar, and more for a total of 16 ballistic devices. $20.00

Handy Dad: This title, by Todd Davis, has instructions for 25 projects, some that take only five minutes and others that will take a weekend. We’re talking zip lines, rope swing, climbing wall, stunt dummy, bike ramp, and all sorts of great ideas. $20.00

Craft Cocktails at Home: This book, by Kevin K. Liu, assembles innovative ideas from taste scientists, engineers, and top bartenders. Lean how to make delicious, one-of-a-kind cocktails. $9.00

Cooking for Geeks: This cookbook, by Jeff Potter, has the why and how behind everything culinary. With nearly 400 pages, this science-as-cookbook is jammed with excellent obscurities and useful tips. $22.00

Great Maps of the Civil War: For the Civil War history buff, this is a fun read that is educational for the whole family. $28.00

Lectures on the Theory of Games: For the gamer dad, check this book out and dad will learn about the “modern mathematical discipline known as the Theory of Games.” Sounds fun, right? $28.00

Survival Wisdom & Know How: For the outdoors-man, check out Survival Wisdom and Know How to make sure they know what they’re doing while out exploring mother nature. $15.00

Need more ideas for Father’s Day? Check out our Father’s Day Gift Guide for more geeky gift ideas!

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

First Second Books
First Second Books

I have to admit, when I was sent a review copy of Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, a YA graphic novel by Prudence Shen and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks, I wasn’t as excited as I could be.

I’m a huge fan of Faith Erin Hicks. Her book Friends with Boysis one of my favorites. My daughter and I used it as our selection for our mother/daughter book club. In Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, Hicks was only doing the art.

The premise sounded like a cliche high school drama, pitting nerds against jocks. Eh. But I should have trusted that Hicks wouldn’t collaborate on something unless it was worth her mad skills. I, and my two teens, very much enjoyed it. Amusing dialogue, great art (duh), and characters that have fun with their stereotypes, tossing or flaunting them at a whim. Continue reading Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

Family Pets — All Digital & Kid Friendly by Zenescope

Family Pets \ Image: Zenescope
Family Pets \ Image: Zenescope

Zenescope has books appropriate for children? Who knew? Not me that’s for sure. When I think Zenescope I think sexy grimms girls or Robyn Hood and her bow and arrow. Family Pets is the latest to come from Zenescope, by Robyn Hood writer Patrick Shand and artwork by Sarah Dill.

It only took the first issue to know that this was something my son and I would both love!

The main character is Thomasina. After her parents died in a car crash when she was five, she’s lived with her Grandmother (aka Abuela) and now also lives with her Uncle and his family. She sometimes feels like the “family pet” and doesn’t care for it to much. My impression of her is that she’s a tom-boy dreamer who just wants to escape the life fate has dealt her. I can relate to her in many ways, including her fashion sense and loner status at school.

Continue reading Family Pets — All Digital & Kid Friendly by Zenescope