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A Stitch In Time?

As the popularity of Disney comics on Free Comic Book Day proved, the comic book market is starved for quality children's books, whether it knows it or not.

A few guys are working at it, coming up with original concepts, like the below mentioned Eisner-winning Herobear and the Kid and books like Invincible Ed (which Ryan Woodward did send us copies of, and out of sheer stupidity we forgot to review. Consider this a shout out that you should take a look at the book).

Last fall, Mike Kunkel's Herobear teamed with Courtney Huddleston's Decoy, a character rife with potential for young audiences. In its own book, Decoy skewed a little more mature, but again, Huddleston was clearly an imaginative talent with an eye for what could entertain kids without talking down to them.

While we're waiting for the second part of that crossover, Huddleston has been busy working up something new. And I'm betting that it's also something good.

So I have little doubt that if you're in the market for a book for kids, the following press release from Huddleston will point you in the right direction:

Summertime Books, the home banner of the popular Invincible Ed and Schism comics series, announces the upcoming July debut of Li'l Red Stitch, a G-rated title focused on wide audience and age level appeal.

Concentrating on the lives of nine-year old Hope and her grandmother, an ex-outlaw known as Red Feather, Li'l Red Stitch tells the story of the Texas Llano Estacado where history and myth collide in the forms of hand-sewn toys given life by a special needle and thread.

"Li'l Red Stitch is first and foremost a children's story," creator and penciler Courtney Huddleston explains, "but it's not so narrow in it's scope that it alienates adult readers. I want the book to be something that every reader-whether he or she is nine years old or ninety-can pick up and enjoy."

Huddleston, currently the Talent Coordinator for Houston-based Penny-Farthing Press, is best known for his critically acclaimed Decoy series which has been a popular title since its debut in 1999. He cites his work with both fledgling and big-name talent at PFP as his inspiration for his newest venture.

"I saw guys like Mike Kunkel (Herobear and the Kid) and Ryan Woodward (Invincible Ed) drawing on childhood fantasies and stories to create really fun comics and I wanted to do something similar," Huddleston says. "Li'l Red Stitch had been bumping around in my mind for a while and I just needed the opportunity to let her out."

The opportunity came in the winter of 2003 when Huddleston pitched the idea to veteran Warner Brothers/Sony animator and Summertime Books publisher Ryan Woodward who saw a place for Li'l Red Stitch among his whimsical product line.

"I really dug the idea," Woodward explains. "I have two daughters and I saw 'Stitch' as a comic they would enjoy. Finding comics with young girls in mind isn't easy, and I wanted to be a part of something that was a little different in the industry."

Other unique features of Li'l Red Stitch include a dual word balloon/prose story format, additional back stories by "Stitch" writer Leslie Nichols, and an exclusive sneak peek of The Spackle King by "Stitch" colorist Mike Garcia (Batman, Gen13).

"I'm really excited to be working with Ryan, Leslie, and Mike on this project," Huddleston says. "They all bring so much talent to the table and I can't think of another team I'd rather work with."

The first issue of Li'l Red Stitch entitled "The Last Ride of Red Feather" will be available on July 2, and will offer readers a four-color, forty page introduction to an all-new heroine and a magical adventure.

Summertime Books is a small publisher of children's books and comic books that specializes in entertaining stories and illustrations that are "oodles of fun to make."

In addition, Summertime Books sent us this solicitation:

Over the plains of Texas whisper the myths of ghost horses, Comanche tribes, and a female outlaw who roamed the llano armed only with her bravery and a magical sewing kit. For nine-year-old Hope, these fables are just imaginary stories her grandmother tells to bring life to an old sepia portrait or to explain the twilight rumblings of the canyon-until the day Hope takes a special needle and thread in hand and a phantom rider carries part of her life into the thunder. Features a special sneak preview of The Spackle King, an all-new series by Mike Garcia and Ryan Woodward.

Hmm. This should be out just about Comic-Con time. Hopefully we'll be able to grab a look at the book and talk to Huddleston. Remember, you can't really have a Fanboy Planet without boys (and girls) to keep it going.

Derek McCaw

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