Review: The Bug Zapper
I didn’t know what to expect when Tom Eaton reached out to me about his self-published Bug Zapper comics. I’m a bit of a snob and very wary about self-published works, but after all, Bone by Jeff Smith was first self-published, so I don’t know what my problem is.
Well, let me tell you, these were a hit. I had so much fun reading them. But don’t ask an old lady… talk to the kids who these books were intended for and I will tell you I had a weekend of both quiet as the Keller Kids were mesmerized with the books and then a barrage of questions as if I knew the author personally and knew all his future plans for these characters or his thought process as he wrote and drew these books. In fact, my 10-year-old son had so many questions that we brainstormed interview questions. But I haven’t gotten around to it just yet.
The first book is a collection of webcomics where we learn the origin of the Bug Zapper and how he came to have his power. It also introduces his young sidekick and many of the villains he fights. These titles are just funny. The idea is a bit bizarre but works. Which is why young kids will really enjoy the titles. And the way the bugs (hey, a little science too!) are incorporated is absolutely clever.
In the second volume, it seems like the Bug Zapper’s arch enemy, the Ant, has reformed. But we soon learn otherwise. The second volume is even stronger than the first, as the story is much more robust and fleshed out. It’s almost as if in volume 1, Eaton was playing around and finally in volume 2 he got his groove. It really made me (and the Keller Kids) want a volume 3.
The pages are laid out with very standard panels, though they vary in size and layout. The color palette is soft but colorful. The artwork is boxy and a bit zany. It made me think of the artwork in Art Baltazar’s Superman in Smallville. Quirky and fun and light and humorous. These titles aren’t meant to make us think of the real world.
These books are available for purchase online. In addition, there are animations the author has put up on his website. In light of the difficult times we’re living through a little levity wouldn’t be all that bad. These titles will give young readers a good laugh!
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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