Astronaut Elementary Lessons 5-10 by Dave Roman

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Astronaut Elementary Lessons 5-10
by Dave Roman
Cryptic Press

astroelemSomething about minicomics has been troubling me lately.

I read comics and you read comics, but when I go to conventions, I don’t see much evidence that kids are reading comics. Is it possible that the world of alternative comics is too focused on creating adult content?

If this is true, certainly the one person looking out for the little ones would be Dave Roman, comics editor at Nickelodeon Magazine and author/artist of the oh-so-delightful Astronaut Elementary.

I was assigned, as homework, the collected 5-10 lessons of Roman’s self-described “mini manga.” I haven’t read enough manga to see the parallels, but since the book reads from left to right, I don’t think its category is as significant as its cross-generational appeal. You could read this incredibly funny and adventure-charged comic with your youngest siblings or enjoy it on your own. Be sure to share though, because it’s just not fair keeping great minis to your self.

For comics fans out there who are raising kids, books like Astronaut Elementary should come as good news. I find it really inspiring to learn that there are a few artists out there who work on including kids in the alternative comics conversation. Marvel and DC characters and over-marketed Sunday morning toons may be the gateway comics that make youngsters grow to be thankful for publishers like Fantagraphics and Oni Press, but speaking as a snob, I’d like my non-existent children to have the best of the alternative comics world for every step in their lives.

Astronaut Elementary is about a school in outer space, established with the notion that “the future of education is in outer space.” How so? Well, the reason is comedically unclear.

About half of the books’ content is spent introducing the individual members of the class and their distinct personalities. Each student’s time in the spotlight may last just a single page, but when they make guest appearances in other stories, the whole world of Astronaut Elementary begins to weave very rich and exciting tapestry.

I don’t mean to be biased, because it’s just not classy for a teacher to have a favorite, but Doug Hiro is the best character ever. Doug never gets out of his spacesuit and he doesn’t seem to have any friends so, of course, he’s the funniest. Every character is likeable though, which is partly the reason Astronaut Elementary is such a fun read.

Not only are the comics funny but they’re also clearly and expressively drawn, a kind of Craig Thompson-meets-James Kochalka style, but with far more words. Not boring words though. Really fun words and odd phrasing, like this quote from the Official Promotional Guide at the beginning of lessons 5-6-7, “Only ASTRONAUT ELEMENTARY is TOPS with the learning!”

With great content, shiny comixpress binding and professional art, $3 for one of Roman’s comics is an absolute steal. Or maybe reading the story online for free is the real steal. Astronaut Elementary is updated every Friday on Roman’s WEBCOMICS NATION SITE. The comics will soon become available for sale on realmsend.com, the site he also shares with his wife and fellow cartoonist, Raina Telgemeier.

Sarah Morean

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