By the time you see this, Julie and I will be on our traditional anniversary road trip. Just a little one, a weekend in Bellingham… but we are looking forward to it because we will finally get to meet our honorary grandson, of sorts.
Brianna is the oldest of ‘our kids’ that have become our family; the loose group of former Cartooning students of mine Pol Rua has dubbed “The Hatchlings.” You can see Bri here in this shot from an Emerald City show a few years back.
She started as my student, then became my first TA, and finally my colleague at the Y as an instructor herself. She went to college in Bellingham and ended up moving there permanently. Eventually she met Brandon….and toted him down to Emerald City to meet all his nerds-in-law shortly thereafter.
It was pretty obvious that Brandon was The One, and he took our teasing with remarkable good humor. (As I have often said, scaring the boyfriends isn’t just a perk, it’s a requirement. Julie was hinting very strongly that year that they needed to make it legal– this photo was from his second visit to see us at ECCC, so he’d demonstrated he could go the distance.) To Julie’s great delight, they did eventually marry, making Brianna’s the first Cartooning wedding we attended, and their boy Asher is the first baby to be born to one of ‘our girls.’
That was a while ago. Asher’s slightly more than a toddler now. We have yet to meet Asher in person, but when Brianna happened to mention that he liked Aquaman I knew what I had to do, and got this in the mail to him as quickly as I could.
I am reliably informed that this was a big hit.
Of course it was. I’ve never understood why there aren’t still Big Little Books; they are perfect for beginning readers. Not just because of the every-other-page illustrations, but because their small size makes them feel right to a kid, like it’s for them.
Emboldened by this success, I’ve been setting aside books and comics in a ‘for Asher’ pile. Just stuff I happened across cheap that I thought he might like.
Of course this one was a no-brainer. Tarzan: The Mark of the Red Hyena.
It’s not actually a kid’s-table version of an original Burroughs novel like most of the earlier Tarzan Big Little Books were, but an original by George Elrick. Very much in the Burroughs tradition, though, and it features Jane, Korak, and the Waziri along with Tarzan.
Maddeningly, the illustrator is not credited, but it’s from 1967, which is when Russ Heath was doing the Gold Key comics from more or less the same publisher; so if it’s not actually Russ Heath it’s somebody that was told to work in his style.
Another no-brainer was this one, the “Super DC Giant featuring Aquaman!”
I got this one off the stands when I wasn’t much older than Asher and adored it. The cover is by Dick Giordano but the interiors are all from the spectacular Ramona Fradon, including possibly my favorite page she ever did…
And we can’t overlook his classical education, so I threw in these four DC Specials from back in the day.
These are great old stories from the earliest incarnation of The Brave and the Bold. My hope is that they’ll serve as the same kind of on-ramp as the old Hanna-Barbera Musketeers cartoons did for me.
I found a couple of doubles of the old DC 100-pagers, so of course they went into the pile.
Obviously this is a little DC-heavy, and I happen to know that Brianna is all about Spider-Man, the Lee-Romita stuff in particular. She’d never forgive me if I ignored it. So I dug this old trade out of the library.
This is a lovely sampler of Spidey stuff from the 60s to the 90s, including this one…
And also this one.
So there you go. Christmas in July. Since the pandemic and then the cancer blew a giant hole through my teaching career, Julie and I haven’t had any youngsters to spoil, but Bri assures me Asher is more than happy to step up and assume that responsibility. I know his dad reads them to him, and I will be sure to let him know he has to do the voices. In fact, there may have to be a demo from Cartoon Grampa.
I’ll let you know when I’m back with the trip report. Hopefully soon.