Toon Books – going up a level…. Toon Graphics

Published On May 10, 2014 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Comics For Children, News

We do like Toon Books here at FPI, and in my role as librarian at a primary school the line of graphic novels for new readers is extremely popular with the children. The whole idea of comics for new readers came from Francoise Mouly, art director at The New Yorker and co-creator (with husband Art Spiegelman) of Raw, the alt-comix comic to end them all in so many ways. The idea behind Toon Books is all about promoting literacy through visual literacy…

“With the Toon Books we were building from (Little Lit’s all ages appeal) … and also narrowing it down to a very specific moment in childhood development where you enter into school, where you enter into literacy. What we set out to do was to share our love of books, of books in general, of the printed object” (Mouly interviewed in Teachers & Writers magazine, Summer 2008)

Such a simple idea, but one that’s long been ignored by comics. Toon Books started coming out, attractive, easy to read, each new book leveled for reading skills and ages. But most importantly each book was exciting, visually a delight, loads of fun for parents, educators and readers. Toon Books managed to make worthy books interesting and fun.

However, Toon Books catered very specifically to a young market, and it’s absolutely no surprise to me that they’re going to be launching a new group of books, under the TOON GRAPHICS name, for readers aged 8 and above.

This is a good thing, as this age group loves graphic novels, devours them, wants more. I’d be expecting this new Toon Graphics line to be up there with the likes of First Second and Scholastic with their titles.

From the PR:

“TOON Graphics are comics and visual narratives that bring the text to life in a way that captures young readers’ imaginations and makes them want to read on—and read more. Children also develop their aesthetic sense when they experience the relationship of text to picture in all its communicative power. Vetted by our team of educational experts, TOON Graphics introduce great storytelling traditions from around the world.”

The first three books were announced as:

Theseus And The Minotaur by Yvan Pommaux (August)
Cast Away On The Letter A by Fred (September)
Hansel And Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti (October)

All three books look quite lovely, and immediately I see two very obvious things; all three books are completely different from each other featuring Euro work, mythology, and fairytales with a dark twist, but most obvious from the interior art (under the covers below) is that the three all run the gamut from comic to picture book, with Theseus and Hansel & Gretel very much picture book / comic hybrids… that blurry line between the two gets blurrier and blurrier every year it seems. I have absolutely no problem with that, I trust you don’t either.

cast away

Meet Philemon, one of France’s most beloved comic book adventurers!
On an ordinary day in the countryside, Philemon falls into a well on his father’s farm and lands… in the Atlantic Ocean?! He begins a wild and whimsical journey through a fantasy world as original as Alice’s Wonderland, as richly imagined as Little Nemo’s Slumberland, and as exciting to explore as Oz.


Relive Theseus’s fantastic adventure as he comes face-to-face with the terrible Minotaur!

Son of both a god and a man, Theseus was destined for greatness. How did he become both the king of Athens and the creator of democracy? And why did he abandon Ariadne after she risked her life to save him? Thanks to the unique flair of writer and artist Yvan Pommaux, this classic tale is brought vividly to life in a glorious retelling of the original myth. A must for fans of Percy Jackson and mythology-inspired video games–it will captivate young readers and nourish their imaginations.


This all happened a long time ago, in your grandmother’s time, or in her grandfather’s. A long time ago. Back then, we all lived on the edge of the great forest.

Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti both remember the horror and fascination with which they read the Grimm Brothers’ “Hansel and Gretel.” The writer and the artist now join forces for a brilliant reimagining of one of humanity’s most enduring tales. Be brave, be bold, and keep your wits about you–Gaiman and Mattotti are welcoming you into the woods.

Interior pages from Cast Away On The Letter A:




Interior pages from Theseus:




Interior art from Hansel and Gretel:



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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.

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