In Jimmy Gownley’s introduction to Buzzboy, he says, “to make serious art does not mean that you have to take art seriously.” John Gallagher has created some pretty impressive comic art – and it’s fun!
Buzzboy, a sidekick with a super-powered belt, is perfectly happy being a sidekick who watches, cheers, and eats burgers. But when his mentor, Ultraman, mysteriously disappears (along with all the other top superheroes) he has to decide whether he has what it takes to be a sidekick – or even a superhero. With the help of a teen sorceress, a supervillain who’s turned to good (and goodies), and a few other sidekicks, Buzzboy has a chance to save the day against the malevolent Time Quake, a super evil duck!
The story includes flashbacks in appropriately grainy comic style, winners of the create-a-hero contest, a tutorial on creating comics, and three short stories. The art is slick and professional with lots of action, color, and excitement. The panels are laid out in a variety of styles, but never lose track of the plot, making it easy for kids to follow the story. There’s obvious homage to classic superheroes and plenty of in-jokes, but the story and art stand well on their own for kids who aren’t familiar with classic superheroes. The story has plenty of wacky superheroes and costumes, from Captain Blue Hen (a hilarious spoof of Batman) to Doc Cyber, reformed super villain who now expends his evil genius in baking. While the text is full of jokes and corny dialogue (says Becca the sorceress, “Wow, they’re all so brave! Even if they do sound a little corny!”), the art keeps the story from becoming a joke fest by adding emotion and dimension to the characters. Even the smaller details and background faces are well-drawn and colored. Gallagher keeps the complicated elements of the story clear through his carefully plotted and laid out artwork; even when characters are hopping through time and space and meeting themselves it’s always clear who’s who in the story.
Add this to popular kid superhero favorites like D.J Steinberg’s Daniel Boom aka Loud Boy, Scott Sava’s Hyperactive, and Frank Cammuso’s Dodgeball Chronicles. Ideal for ages six and up and for parents who want their kids to read about superheroes without excessive violence or other inappropriate content. Definitely worth looking up a copy if it’s not available from your library’s vendor.