Picture Book This: Meanwhile…..

Published On January 22, 2011 | By Richard Bruton | Books, Comics, Comics For Children, Reviews


By Jules Feiffer

Harper Trophy

My recent forays into the world of librarianism at the primary school and thinking about suitable comics to get for a primary school library has made me think about the strange and very blurry boundary between comics and picture books for children.

The definition of where the boundary between comics and picture books has always been blurry, and is nigh on impossible to really pin down.

Jules Feiffer’s Meanwhile (a book I’d often seen talked about as a perfect children’s flight of fancy, but never seen until this week) sits firmly between the two, wonderfully so. Speech bubbles and captions are there, but so is the descriptive text accompanying the pictures found in picture books. But most of all, it’s the very mechanism of the story that owes it’s all to Feiffer’s mastery of comics and illustrative art.

Little Raymond is up in his room, lost in the world of his comic book, in a thought bubble of his own making, almost deaf to the ever increasing demands of his mother downstairs. What he needs is a way to ignore her properly. Which is where Feiffer’s brilliance really takes hold:

And then Raymond’s off into the world’s his imagination merely dreamt of until now – a prate adventure, the wild, wild west, deep into outer space. He does the lot, and always using that magic word, carefully written down somewhere, somehow to escape – despite finding a few problems along the way:

That sequence above resonated with me – I’d seen the style before, not just from Feiffer. And the tone was there in my head from someone else. And then it clicked – Kyle Baker. The brilliant, the wonderful, the doesn’t make nearly enough comics Kyle Baker. Everyone’s got influences, and if Feiffer isn’t one of Bakers I’d be really surprised.

The story in Meanwhile is quite simply magical, and brings the best of both comics and picture books to the page. And Feiffer’s art is so gorgeous, with such incredibly relaxed lines, so few of them that manage to get across so much. It’s simply a masterpiece for children. And something that adults will adore – with or without a child to read to. This is one definitely bound for my library shelves. Lets see what the children at school make of it.

In fact, I may well see what other delights are there in the picture book library to share with you. Interested?

As for me, I’m off to explore more of Feiffer’s works.

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About The Author

Richard Bruton

– Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he’s written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard’s day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children’s graphic novel library in the country.

One Response to Picture Book This: Meanwhile…..

  1. Interested, yes! I need to get a copy of this one. Thanks for the tip!