A young boy is transported to 17th century France, where magic and his new monster friends band together to stop evil.
Humanoids! Since I started as a humble reviewer here at AiPT, I’ve been devouring a steady diet of Humanoids books for a few reasons. First, they’re usually complex as hell, in a way a great deal of your average American comics are not. Two, the artwork is divine, since most of their titles are not monthly or bi-monthly and the artist gets the time needed to complete a far more in-depth journey.
As you might have seen last week, Humanoids has just announced a new imprint for Kids and Young Adults called HumanoidsKids. I jumped at the chance to review one of the first titles, Gregory and the Gargoyles (and not just to see how my own children would like it).
First off, this is 100% a kids book. If you’re expecting an intense Carthago experience, with a bit less gore — not so much. This is bright and light and lovely from cover to cover. The story is not breaking any new ground, but tells a tale that had my 3-year-old very interested. Gregory has moved to a new bustling city with a huge cathedral across the street. As he’s cut from the same cloth as many other smart-aleck kids of fictional fame, like Dennis the Menace or Calvin, his intellect and big mouth get him into trouble from day one. Through his many escapes from the local bully, or cutting class, he finds himself transported back to 17th century France where a cast of dragons, gnomes, griffins, and a gargoyle named Phidias all band together with magic, portals, and various villains to get Gregory back home and to protect their own.
The story and the art and the pacing all combine to tell a very fun and exciting tale. My older son is generally a fan of reading comic books with me, as he’s starting to learn how to identify words, but the average book is so full of full word balloons, it’s a bit of a chore. This book balances the art and the talking quite well, allowing each page to be both eye catching and easy to read aloud.
The art itself is incredibly bright and lively, with deep glowing greens and blues for magic, and a richness that seemingly paints the page. Gregory’s hair, a fire engine red, is perfect for excitable kids who need something to catch them and bring them back to the page. I found myself looking at individual panels outside of reading and letting my son discover the small hidden details.
As this is the first volume of a trilogy, this does set up quite a bit of foreshadowing, but it does it in a very smart way. Gregory, for all the power and responsibility pressed upon him is still a kid, and his battles with his homewor, and with magic users looking to destroy the last dragon take their toll. The book seems to be building in pauses, not in action like most trilogies, but in pacing – since this kid is doing quite a bit, and frankly, could use a break. This was pretty refreshing as a bedtime read and since Gregory had his own bedtime that was very well regarded in the book — there’s many a natural pause for the sleepy kids in and outside the book to get some rest.
My son gave it a rating of a “Twenty in a one!” which means nothing to me, and subsequent attempts to get more info out of him failed. “What do you mean buddy?” “I don’t know.”
I’m going to give this a 8.5 out of 10. I’m not the target audience for it, so while I might have seen the ending coming my son ate it the hell up. We don’t have 20 in a 1 on our rating page, so let’s split the difference and go with a 9.