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Howtoons [Re]ignition #1

Written by Bryant Thomas on Wednesday, August 06 2014 and posted in Reviews

Howtoons [Re]ignition #1

The Anarchist Cookbook. FOR KIDS!

I am taking a bit of a segue away from my typical genres and picking up something that is aimed towards a completely neglected market; children! Admittedly, this series might be more for kids in their early-tween years which may be the very reason why I enjoyed it. With a lot of appealing DIY experiments, Fred Van Lente and Tom Fowler create a very interesting and very involving read. 
Fred Van Lente (Archer and Armstrong) offers his comedy chops to bring a tween-centered, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic comic that blends conflict with fun DIY experiments and it works. It not only has these little projects but it comes up with some pretty funny, on-the-nose social commentary about our current issues with climate change. We are quickly introduced to our two protagonists, the brother-sister team of Tuck and Celine, as they are suddenly dropped into a bunker to avoid the last ditch effort of Dinosaur Energy corporation to prevent global warming. Dinosaur Energy Corporation, in all their genius and glory, want to blow up volcanoes so that a layer of ash can block out the dangerous radiation from the sun. This is some Looney Tunes ridiculousness right here, but then I look at our current climate change situation...and I can't help but see this as some terrible possibility. 
Fred Van Lente is a great writer and Tom Fowler's fun, cartoon art really elevates the engagement. The brother-sister relationship is displayed perfectly for new readers to get a quick rundown on how these two interact with each other. Fowler's facial expressions and style reminds me of Codename: Kids Nextdoor and it really brought this energy to the pages that I really appreciated. Jordie Bellaire on colors is a wonderful addition to an almost flawless execution.
I had no idea that Howtoons was something that Image actually did in the past. So when I picked this up, I wasn't sure what I was in for. To my delight, I opened it up and within the first few pages I was given a diagram on how to make some kick ass safety goggles (not safety-rated, of course). These diagrams enticed me, a 25-year-old, to look around my apartment and make some of these makeshift items. It really spoke to my inner MacGyver to use a toilet paper roll and create a flashlight. The creative team makes these diagrams really easy to follow and even explains the science behind it in very easy terms. I wish I had this when I was in elementary/middle school. 
I had mentioned earlier about how this is geared towards a market that is criminally neglected in the comics industry and I firmly stand by it. During a visit to the states last year, my now 9-year-old nephew was incredibly interested in superheroes (still is). Looking through my collection...the only thing I could find that may fit, or come close, his age-group was Batman Beyond 2.0. But even THAT was too brutal. He even called me out on it for being too violent which, in retrospect, it was. He's a good kid. 
I have been wanting to share my interest with my nephew. Comics should be shared! But all of his favorite heroes are dismembering, torturing, and blowing people up. This is why I am very appreciative of Howtoons. Not only do I have a fun, climate-change allegory, but now I have DIY toys to make with him! He's a very curious child, too! After reading this first issue, and finding myself engaged and entertained more so than a lot of the more mature titles I read, I'm going out and picking up the collection of Howtoons (aptly titled “Tools of Mass Construction”). This may not be for everybody, but I definitely appreciate Van Lente and Fowler's effort to continue a title that is engaging for future readers. 


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About the Author - Bryant Thomas

Bryant Thomas is far too over attached to his dog, Dexter. He talks to him. Confesses to him. But most of all, he reads comics to him. When Bryant isn't working for the energy industry, helping companies figure out what to buy to make them profitable, he reaches for a new trade or drools over all of the insane JH Williams art in Batwoman's early issues. Growing up in Texas has given Bryant a very complex palate to BBQ Sauces, ranch dressing, and the occasional whiskey. His free-time is filled with panels and panels, and even more panels as he writes reviews for the wonderful institution that is, The Outhouse. 

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