“Remember your childhood and pass it on…”
For around three years, I’ve been hearing about Herobear and the Kid. This story was written and drawn by Mike Kunkel, an animator who from an early age had the itch to draw. Although he chose to scratch this itch first as an animator, this personal project has lead to a second career, as a partner in The Astonish Factory.
Each year at Atlanta Comicon, I’d go see Mike speak. At first, I didn’t go because I knew who he was. I went because I didn’t know who this guy was and you never know what you’ll learn by going to sit in on a comic panel. So, for a couple of years I listened to Mike speak and discovered that he seemed to be a really nice guy, who genuinely loved the project he was working on. Each time I left with the resolve that I should try out some of his work, but every time I saw an issue, it was a collectible first printing or something that made it rather costly, and I’d pass.
I wish I hadn’t waited so long. This weekend, I dug up a copy of the Trade paperback he released for the first Arc of Herobear and the Kid. The collection is entitled, The Inheritance. I won’t spoil the story for you beyond what is written about it any ad. The narrative is written in the style of a memoir, by the main character, Tyler. The story opens at a turning point in Tyler’s life, the death of his grandfather on Christmas day. The family moves into his grandfather’s home and young Tyler inherits a small toy bear and a broken pocket watch. But nothing about this story is quite what it seems. Tyler’s toy bear can also become, Herobear, a large cape-wearing, super-powered polar bear!
This first arc in Tyler’s story is about childhood, the power of believing, and all the magic of childhood that most of us have forgotten. Mike Kunkel’s storytelling should be able to help the most jaded person recapture that little piece of youth at least momentarily.
The art is quite eye-catching. In my mind, there’s no question it’s drawn by an animator. I truly believe I would have caught onto that without having previously gotten to hear the author speak. You see the sketch lines and a sense of movement in each image, as if he’s offered you just one panel from a cell in an animated feature. And the story is presented almost entirely in black and white. Herobear’s cape, which is red, is one of a couple of exception. So far, there’s been one other colored character, but telling you who would spoil the climax of Tyler’s first arc.
I’ll definitely be on the look-out for more of Mike’s work now. I had read and heard that Herobear was all ages, but I took that to mean that it was appropriate for kids, i.e. something a parent would buy. Not fitting into that category was probably another reason I held off splurging on this book. However, in my opinion, this is a book that truly has something in it for all ages, whether you’re a kid or someone who wants to remember the magic of that age.