Review: ‘Wallace the Brave’
Welcome to Snug Harbor – a quaint coastal city and home for the year-round comic strip adventures of elementary students Wallace, his best friend Spud, and their new friend in town, Amelia. Wallace is adventurous and brave; Spud is the opposite of Wallace – he’s afraid of everything – but in love with food and Amelia; Amelia would rather throw a water balloon at Spud. Wallace lives at home with his fisherman dad, garden-savvy mom, and rambunctious little brother, Sterling. Wallace and his friends tackle the first days back a school, going fishing, avoiding mom’s cooking, complaining about homework, going to the comic book shop, and all year round adventure during all four seasons in a fictitious town in Rhode Island.
AMP Kids has collected the first strips of Wallace the Brave, which originally debuted online in 2015, in their easy to access AMP Kids format. The series is a welcome throwback to comics like Calvin and Hobbes and Cul de Sac, where each day with Wallace and his friends is a brand new adventure. The series is a fun read for not only kids but nostalgic adults and harkens back to the joyous days of when kids were kids and were allowed to explore the great unknown barefoot, brave, but with a punchline added in sprinkles.
Like any great family cartoon, the family is a big part of the story, and Wallace the Brave has a fun, well-rounded cast. Wallace’s dad is a simple fisherman, but he’s an integral part of the story, reminding Wallace how awful school was, taking Wallace fishing, taking over coaching Wallace’s t-ball team, telling tall tales about the family history, and forgetting the names of Wallace’s friends (it’s a trait I share as well). Wallace’s mom loves maintaining the garden, secretly loves comic books, makes horrible lasagna, and tries her best to contain Wallace’s younger brother Sterling.
The art by Will Henry does share much in common with Bill Watterson’s art. It’s a very simple inked look, but each of the characters has distinct facial structures. Wallace and Spud look nothing alike but are distinctly recognizable. Very similar to Calvin and Hobbes, when the panel calls for it, Will Henry provides some really dynamically detailed art, especially for when Wallace and Spud imagine a giant monster lurks just below the surface.
Overall, I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed Wallace the Brave. My son read it as well and loved it. As he’s a die-hard Calvin and Hobbes fan, it doesn’t get much better than that. Anxiously awaiting the next volume.
About Mike Pawuk
Mike Pawuk has been a teen services public librarian for the Cuyahoga County Public Library for over 15 years. A lifelong fan of comic books and graphic novels, he was chair for the 2002 YALSA all-day preconference on graphic novels, served as a judge for the Will Eisner Awards in 2009, as well as helped to create the Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee for YALSA. He is the author of Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, and co-author of the follow-up book Graphic Book II both published by Libraries Unlimited/ABC-CLIO Publishing.
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