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BOO Power! Should My Kids Be Reading ‘Johnny Boo’? [Kids’ Comics]

Cover to Johhny Boo Goes Like This! James Kochalka/Top Shelf Productions
Cover to Johhny Boo Goes Like This! James Kochalka/Top Shelf Productions

 

It’s Kids’ Week at ComicsAlliance! As the summer draws to a close and young comics fans get ready to go back to school, we’re presenting a week of articles focused on great kids’ comics, including comics recommendations for younger readers. Hey! Kids’ comics!

There are a lot of kids’ stories about ghosts. There are a lot of kids’ stories about friendship. But what if there was a kids’ comic about ghosts… who are friends?!? That’s what James Kochalka‘s Johnny Boo books are about and they’re delightful, combining simple stories, good lessons, colorful artwork, goofy humor, and ghosts and monsters, to create an appealing series of tales that can be laughed over and read again and again.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Johnny Boo is a ghost boy. In his own words, he’s the “best ghost in the world!” He has a little pal named Squiggle, who’s also a ghost but smaller. Small as a raindrop, actually.

 

From Johnny Boo & The Happy Apples. James Kochalka/Top Shelf Productions.
From Johnny Boo & The Happy Apples. James Kochalka/Top Shelf Productions.

 

They don’t seem to have a house or anything. They just kinda hang out in a field all day. Well, that’s not all they do. Squiggle has “Squiggle power” — the ability to fly around in loop-the-loops — and Johnny has “BOO power,” where he just yells “BOO!” really loud.

They also like eating ice cream, which Johnny keeps in holes because he and Squiggle like it “all warm & melty.”

 

From Johnny Boo & The Happy Apples. James Kochalka/Top Shelf Productions.
From Johnny Boo & The Happy Apples. James Kochalka/Top Shelf Productions.

 

Together, these two friends deal with troublemakers like the Mean Little Boy and the Ice Cream Monster — who both likes ice cream and is in fact made of ice cream — as well as mysteries like, “What’s up with Johnny’s hair?” and, “How do stars twinkle?”

WHO’S IT BY?

James Kochalka is the cartoonist behind the series, as well as the first Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont. Given his lengthy, varied resume — which includes the long-running diary comic American Elf and the superhero satire Superf*ckers— you might not think at first glance that he’d be a good fit for a children’s series. But Kochalka’s vibrant cartooning and bright colors are a perfect fit for kids’ stories, particularly ones full of aimless, oddball humor like these.

Besides Boo, Kochalka has published other all-ages comics like Pinky & Stinky and Dragon Puncher, and has contributed material to every issue of Spongebob Comics.

WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?

Johnny and Squiggle are just fun to be around. They act like real kids, with all the weird digressive thoughts and impulsive actions that implies.

 

From Johnny Boo Does Something! James Kochalka/Top Shelf Productions.
From Johnny Boo Does Something! James Kochalka/Top Shelf Productions.

 

While there’s conflict, there’s no violence. In addition to being a nice reminder that not all stories need violence to have conflict, this means there’s not really anything to scare kids. The scariest thing that’s occurred in the series so far is when the Ice Cream Monster, well-meaning dope that he is, decided to steal Johnny’s hair!

WHO SHOULD READ IT?

Kids who have torn through Andy Runton‘s Owly books and want something with words, but still with the same sense of joy. Any kid who has grown up on the current crop of Cartoon Network shows like Adventure Time or Steven Universe. Fans of Dav Pilkey and Louis Sachar.

WHERE CAN I BUY IT?

The seven Johnny Boo books — The Best Little Ghost In The World, Twinkle Power, Johnny Boo & The Happy Apples, Johnny Boo & The Mean Little Boy, Johnny Boo Does Something, Johnny Boo Zooms To The Moon, and Johnny Boo Goes Like This, and the crossover book Johnny Boo Meets Dragon Puncher, are available digitally on Comixology and Kindle, and in print from Top Shelf Productions, a variety of retailers and your local library. 

 

Next: James Kochalka Talks Power Rangers And Putty Patrollers

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