Silent Comics for Kids – Robot Dreams, I’m Not A Plastic Bag, Owly

Ok, so I work at a book store that has a varied selection of graphic novels. Not much Marvel or DC, but a lot of independent and even underground comics that can be hard to come by sometimes. I started working downstairs in the kids room and it’s very boring down there so I often peruse the children’s graphic novel section. I found a few silent comic books on the shelves and decided to look through them while I did nothing.

Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon, is a silent comic book about a dog who builds his own robot friend. The two become best friends until the robot breaks down and they become separated. While it is definitely a kid-friendly book, Robot Dreams holds a lot of meaning for me because I have definitely felt loss, struggled to move on and one day discovered that everything will be alright. In the end, Varon proves that pain doesn’t always have to hurt forever. We move on and we remember the good times we once had while also looking to the future for the good things to come. I have recently discovered that the future isn’t as bleak as I once thought to believe. Sometimes things get worse, but sometimes they also get better. The robot’s dreams about reuniting with his lost friend reminded me of the days I spent lamenting the past and hoping that simple thoughts could fix a great sadness that was burning inside me. Dreams will keep you afloat, help you survive the burning sun and the bitter winter, but that’s all they can do. Get up and make things better. I have and it’s made all the difference. This might be a little over analytic of a kids’ cartoon, but I think anyone can feel something after a quick read of Robot Dreams. It was very fun, but also very real.

***

I’m Not A Plastic Bag, by Rachel Hope Allison, presents a beautiful juxtaposition between the natural world and our artifacts that invade it. Centering on a giant collection of man-made garbage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I’m Not A Plastic Bag displays our effect on nature even when we can’t see it. The mound of garbage gains sentience and begins trying to make friends with various animals that go by. Allison’s rendering of the floating garbage monster evokes feelings of horror and sorrow. Something is very wrong with the images we are seeing, yet they’re very pretty to look at.

This is another silent comic, so the garbage monster only speaks through road signs and various graphic images that are present on things like plastic bags. It helps bring a silent sorrow to the book that a speaking monster could never convey. He wants to connect with others, but his appearance and his imposition on the their way of life prevents that. His facial expressions show his loneliness and isolation as an island of garbage in the middle of the ocean. Even when he interacts with animals they end up being hurt by his collection of trash.

Finally he is taken away in the end and only in his destruction does he finally find peace and love. This book exists for a reason. It is sponsored by Jeff Corwin, so it is intended to send a message. However I think it tells a lot more than a ‘corporate sponsor’ intended. This is a genuine work of art and is a fun experience for anyone, conservationist or not.

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Owly: Flying Lessons, by Andy Runton, is freaking adorable. For those who don’t know, Owly is an all-ages silent comic book series staring an owl, appropriately named Owly and his worm friend, obviously named Wormy. In this volume Owly and Wormy attempt to befriend a mysterious creature in the forest, which they soon learn is a flying squirrel. The problem is that owls are natural predators of flying squirrels so it doesn’t work out all that well.

Owly might be the cutest comic I’ve ever read. Runton’s characters are rendered for maximum adorableness and yet it’s his ability to capture emotion so well that makes this silent kids book such a fun and easy read. Owly’s eyes are gigantic, which is silly by itself, but then you see why Runton chose to do that; all the emotion is locked away in those big owl eyes. Next to his tiny beak and wings, Owly is cute as hell. Whether he’s brushing his teeth or curling up with a blanket in a tree, this is the cutest owl of all the owls. Seeing him cry was also pretty heartbreaking, so it was nice to see him happy in the end.

Yeah, it’s for kids, but I can enjoy it too if I want to! This is something to give the kids, but I’d totally flip through Owly comics if I had the chance.

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