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Amazing Finds [at Book Expo]: BATTLING BOY by Paul Pope and more

When I attended this year's Book Expo America about a month ago, one of my aims was to find graphic novels that I hadn't heard about. Although I'm always looking for books that I'd like, being a father has also changed the way I look for books, as I'm always building the bookshelf for my little guy.

I wasn't expecting to find a cool book like BATTLING BOY by Paul Pope, a book I really enjoyed, and something I know the little guy will dig when he gets a little older. That future book shelf just got a lot more awesome.

At "The New Graphic Novel" panel hosted by Calvin Reed--the comics man of Publisher's Weekly, sports aficionado and gentleman around town (seriously, this guy is everywhere) along with three comic book creators with new graphic novels coming out this Fall, discussed their projects. All had really cool books coming out, and I look forward to reading all of them. 

The three creators were Faith Erin Hicks (The Last of Us, Dark Horse), she came out of the webcomic world, and through sheer perseverance landed the gig at Dark Horse working on her first licensed tie-in project--which looks like great fun. Gene Yang (Boxers and Saints, First Second Books) is the man behind the award-winning, American Born Chinese, and his new book which retells the history of The Boxer Rebellion as told from both sides, and comes in a two-book slipcased edition, looks terrific. I will be pre-ordering soon.

Paul Pope's book, BATTLING BOY, grew from his feeling that his 12-year-old nephew may not have a great selection of comic book choices that don't include a long and complex back story (this from his comments in the panel). He wanted to create something fun and new, with a young boy as the star of the book, and weave in mythology, super powers and creepy nightmarish monsters and beasties. This book is fun and takes the reader beside BATTLING BOY's first adventure, thrown into the fire of his new role as hero. Like his dad.

I'm not going to spoil any more than that, but Pope's artwork is just amazing and quirky and I love it. When his Batman Year 100 came out a few years back, I was taken by his twisted spin on the dark knight and continue to reread that book time and time again.

This is only the first volume of a multi-book BATTLING BOY series and waiting for more will be torture (although I can't complain having already read an advance reader's copy). I'll be buying a hardcover when it comes out October 8th (it is being published in both hardcover and paperback) but I'm also quite proud of my advance copy which I had signed for the little  superhero in my life when I got the chance to meet Paul at the show. First Second also gave out very cool t-shirt with Pope's art of the little but fierce Battling Boy in front of a hoard of monsters. Very cool.


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