fantasy and science fiction book reviewsViminy Crowe’s Comic Book by Marthe Jocelyn and Richard Scrimger with comics by Claudia Davila

VIMINY CROWEViminy Crowe’s Comic Book is a great book for young adults, but oddly enough, it’s not really a comic book. However, it will certainly appeal to those who love comics because the story is about two children who get pulled into a steampunk comic book. Young Wylder Wallace meets a girl his own age, Addy, at the Toronto International Comic Book Festival, and they immediately dislike each other, which creates a nice tension between the two main characters of the story. Wylder, a big fan of a comic book by Viminy Crowe, soon finds out that Addy is this great artist’s niece. The rest of the book tells the story of their being forced to work together and eventually becoming friends.

The main plot takes place IN the comic book: Through a series of misadventures, the two kids end up in the uncle’s comic book, and since they are trying not to die at the hands of the villains, they start destroying the original plot. Back at the viminy croweconvention, the struggling artist Uncle Viminy is about to meet with businessmen who will decide the fate of his book, and the actions of the children will make it look as if Viminy can’t write a good story. This extra concern means the children not only have to survive the imaginary world Viminy created, but also must fix the plot itself so Viminy can keep his contract.

The story is fun, and Addy and Wylder have some meta-narrative awareness since they both know the characters and what’s supposed to happen in the comic. They also are aware that the characters in the book think they are real. It’s very funny, and at times, just plain silly, but in a good way: One of the best narrative gags is a result of Viminy’s main girl in the story, Nelly Day, being based on his niece, Addy. Once Addy enters the comic book, the characters confuse Nelly and Addy, and at times, so does Wylder. It’s written in a parody of a pulp-like steampunk adventure, so we meet the dashing hero, Flynn Goster; the adventuress, Aunt Isadora Fortuna; and the dastardly Professor Lickpenny. Various steampunk devices and robots are dropped in for extra flavoring.

viminycrowescomicbookBasically, this book is a great chapter book about two kids on an adventure, but what makes it more than just a typical well-written adventure tale is that it combines the Chapter Book with the Comic Book. The story is mainly a chapter book, but since it takes place mostly in a comic book, there are more illustrations than is usual for a YA novel, and those illustrations, of course, are of the comic book world that young Wylder and Addy have entered. Marthe Jocelyn and Richard Scrimger write a fun story, but Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book depends greatly upon the artwork of Claudia Davila. The overall result is a very original work of art that will appeal to both boys and girls, since both Wylder and Addy are strong characters, and their interactions are the main interest of the story. I certainly enjoyed reading Viminy Crowe’s Comic Book and recommend it highly.


  • Brad Hawley

    BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia.