Drawing for Myself – Doug Hiro!

July 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, News

Fan art of Doug Hiro, one of my favorite characters from Dave Roman’s Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity. Pencil, brush pen, and Photoshop on 5.5×8.5″ bristol.

I picked up his book while Dave was in town for Kids Read Comics, and I’ve been reading it over and over ever since. It’s one of those rare comics aimed at young people written and drawn by a guy who actually remembers what it’s like to be a kid. The comic is filled with an exuberant sincerity, the characters are super fun, and the jokes have that rascally sweetness that you rarely find outside of a Muppets special back when Jim Henson was alive.

The story is about a group of students attending a school in outer space, and the main narrative bounces around to be explored from the viewpoints of the various students and teachers. Each chapter is a mini-story about one of the students, sometimes in the context of the larger story, sometimes as a tangent. As we get to know these characters we’re constantly reminded of the dread looming over former space hero and newest student Hakata Soy as his past slowly catches up to him.

Dave is a former editor of Nickelodeon Magazine, so it shouldn’t surprise me that his book reminds me of the kinds of comics I used to love reading in ’80s kids’ publications like Hot Dog! magazine. It’s a buoyant story, full of references to cartoon and toy franchises that 20- and 30-somethings will recognize. There are adventure teams whose space vehicles combine into a super warrior robot, a “Guidance Chancellor” with a chrome plate over his face, dinosaur driving, and bunnies, bunnies, bunnies. What’s most exciting to me about this book is the complete absence of an adult mindset;  there is not the slightest hint of irony, neither do you find the breathless affectation of a storyteller who speaks down to children. It bears repeating: Dave truly remembers what it was like to be a kid, and it shows in his work.

You can purchase it on Amazon (and if you do, I get an affiliate kickback from that link), or get it directly from Macmillan. If you’re looking for a really, really good comic for a young person or for that someone who sighs fondly when you mention Hot Dog! magazine, get it for them.

Did I mention it even has a neat foil cover that reminds me of Lazer Blazers? Everything about this book makes me feel like I’m 8-years-old again.

Anyway, I hope he doesn’t mind my take on Doug Hiro.

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