Monday, January 16, 2006

Radio, Radio

I've been a comics fan ever since I was a child. And by "comics fan," I mean that I am an enthusiast of the medium, not just one aspect of it. I read superhero comics, war comics, humor comics; I read DC, Marvel, Archie, Tower, Charlton, ACG, Dell/Gold Key; I read old comics (when I could find them) and new comics; I read multi-part stories out of order without worrying about acquiring all the parts first (I read the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. stories in StrangeTales for quite a while before I ever found #135, 137, & 138, which apparently never got distribution in Rome, Georgia).

I am reminded of my omnivorous comics reading habits as I enjoy WHCH: Hold Tight, the latest release from Jane Smith Fisher and Wilson Place Comics. The first story page of this trade paperback, with its "previously seen in WJHC..." summary, might lead some readers to believe that they should forego this volume until they've read the previous book--but that's not the case at all. Between her prefatory introduction to the cast and her brief "up-to-speed" summary, Fisher has given new readers all they need to know to dive right into this engaging and entertaining story of the teenage staff of a high school radio station.

I've always thought that the high school environment was ideal for comic book stories; it's the perfect microcosm for pre-teen and teen readers, since they're familiar with it--and younger children look forward to those high school years, so they're more inclined to read books set in that milieu. Fisher manages to capture the vitality of high-school life in a light-hearted, sometimes zany adventure series reminiscent of an updated, more hip Archie comic.

Joe Staton illustrates the book with such skill that he makes it seem deceptively easy; Staton's always been a fluid storyteller, and his skill is particularly evident in this book. Colorist John Green uses a bold, intense palette to accentuate the art, making the finished art pop off the page.

WJHC: Hold Tight! is a great all-ages comic; I hope that Fisher won't keep us waiting as long for the next volume.

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