"Good Vs. Evil: Alien Snow" Graphic Novel Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
Published by Stone Arch Books
Written by Michael Dahl
Illustrated by Roberta Pares
2011, 48 Pages
Graphic Novel Released on August 1st, 2011
Over the past few years, comic publishers have lost focus on who their primary customer once was. Right now most comics released are geared towards a teenage to adult audience with only a handful of books appropriate for young readers. This is why it's refreshing to see something like the Good Vs. Evil series from Stone Arch Books. Here we have a short sci-fi / horror comic that's easy to read that parents can feel comfortable reading to or with their kids.
This series is set up in such a way to allow — and encourage — multiple read-throughs. Each page is split in half with the top half given a red tint and depicting the "evil" point of view and the bottom half in blue for the "good" story. They can be read together or one and then the other.
Alien Snow follows a young boy who sees a trinket in a shop window that catches his eye. He goes in to buy it, but the shopkeeper has something else in mind. He captures the boy in a snow globe and takes him home next to several others like it. It turns out the shopkeeper is an alien and he's collected specimens to bring back to his home world. The boy must now escape his chilly prison or be transported off-world to untold horrors in space.
Author Michael Dahl's story relies heavily on the art to explain everything. Several pages go by without any word balloons at all, almost like he's asking the reader to fill in the blanks. The pencils, handled by Roberta Pares, look very similar to that of your average anime series, but work well with the overall tone of the book.
Also included in Alien Snow is some behind-the-scenes info on how the book was put together from the script to storyboards to coloring the final page. There's also a section with discussion questions. This is clearly a book that could be easily found in a classroom as it would be perfect for any young reader, especially anyone interested in the creative process.
Alien Snow is not for everyone. I'm certainly not its target audience, but I recognize what the company is trying to do and I fully embrace it. If comic publishers continue releasing books only for older audiences, what are they going to do when those people start thinning out? You need new readers and books like this one can get kids interested in the medium early on. It can also do so in such a way as to encourage reading in general.