Monthly Archives: May 2012

Review: “How I Spent My Summer Invasion” from a grown-up/kid perspective

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Indie publisher We Comics’ new all-ages sci-fi series “How I Spent My Summer Invasion” written by Patrick Rieger and illustrated by Mark Sean Wilson, places a pair of rarin’ for summer-fun boys, Russ and Tim, unexpectedly in the service of a hotel that caters to extraterrestrial clientele complete with giant bug-like maitre d’s, free-roaming internal organs and even an alien princess.

Will this book hold pass the test of multi-generational readership? Here are a couple of thoughts from the grown-up/kid perspective:

Part One — by Lisa Kay Tate

For a new comic, I found this a witty story geared towards the ‘tween set, with just the right mix of mild and droll humor to hold that age group’s attention.  Nothing in the book was a particularly laugh-out-loud moment for me, except I did find the comment “If you’re not doing anything later, I’m hitting puberty in about three years,” pretty dang cute. The story did seem to be rushed along a little too fast in places, but I think as Rieger continues to grow as a writer this pace will even out. This story has potential to blossom in some rather clever places.

As for the art, I was taken with Wilson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” meets “Men In Black” style. The lines were crisp and the colors were fun and bold, which made even its kid-friendly “gross-out” moments kind of endearing. His work is a good pairing with Rieger’s words.

As a comic enthusiast who regularly finds myself drawn into fights with Ultron and near-world-ending Infinity Gauntlet searches, this book may not hold the interest of some adult readers. However, it was a refreshing break from the “over-the-top” cutesy plots or inane sight gags of some young readers books, as it managed to balance Tim and Russ’s misadventures with just enough silliness, as well as a lot of heart (and stomach and eyeball) to keep the pages turning.

My biggest gripe was it was just all too familiar, given the similar storylines of the non-conventional guests that are popping up frequently in movies and books; most notably the forthcoming Sony Pictures animated feature film “Hotel Transylvania,” and the 2011 children’s novel “Aliens on Vacation” by Clete Barrett Smith.

I’m always on the lookout for plots that are new and original, and I felt I needed a little bit more of that for this to be an entirely satisfying read for me.

But then again, I’m not 9…

Part Two — by Molly Kay Tate, age 9.

I thought this comic was extremely funny, and it reminded me of the book “Aliens on Vacation,” and I think that’s a very interesting type of story.

The artwork was pretty funny and cute as well, and my favorite part was when the bellhop just kept coming back even when he was practically getting all chewed up. My favorite character was definitely Starlei, especially since the way she was drawn was very pretty and colorful.

I thought the end was a little sad, though, and would have liked to see (SPOILER ALERT) the poor bellhop’s legs grown back, even when he was still missing his torso and his hands. Quick Mom interjection: not exactly sure how the latter suggestion would be anatomically possible, but we can always imagine.

I do want to read more and see what happens next, because altogether I really liked this story and think it is something kids will want to keep reading.

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How To Make a Wikus-style “District 9″ Flower From Rubbish

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As I’ve said before, is there anything more touching than a hideous prawn lovingly making a little tin flower for his soul mate in the midst of a South African landfill?

Prawn-approved token of affection.

Fans of the alien drama and all-around love story “District 9” know there isn’t. Therefore, here’s the perfect display of Mother’s Day affection, Wikus Van Der Meer-style, for all those Moms, Wives and Mee-Maws with exceptional taste in discarded metallic trash.

I realize none of you (to my knowledge) have alien pincer-like claws capable of both ripping apart enemies and lovingly bending steel scraps into delicate floral designs, so I’ve made Wikus’s idea a little more human-friendly.

Anyone who has ever made a tissue paper or bathroom tissue flower in grade school should be able to do this without too many problems. If you haven’t then (sniff) I’m sorry you’re lacking this happy childhood memory, but this should still be easy. I made this craft with my 9-year-old (who I won’t even let see “District 9” for a few years) and she did a stellar, or should I say interstellar job!

Let’s get started:

Step One: Scavenge for Supplies

To make this flower look metallic like Wickus’s, find any type of easily pliable metallic wrappings and assorted trash such as:

Fruit drink bags

Aluminum foil

Candy wrappers

Wrapping paper, or anything else you think might fit.  Be creative and think “WWWD” What Would Wikus Do?”

Also, you will need wire coat hanger or metallic pipe cleaner for the stem.

Optional materials include an aluminum can for the leaf, beads from old craft projects or broken jewelry, ribbons or other embellishments you might find lying around.

Step Two: The Flower

This is the part that should stir up those tissue paper memories. Cut your found wrappings in rectangles about 4”x 6” in size. You can use an old photo for a template, if you need.

Next, stack about three or four rectangles on top of each other and fold them like a paper fan.  If you can, use pieces with some variance in color just to make it more interesting. When you have folded the entire paper, pinch it in the middle so it resembles a little metal bow tie.

Step Three: The Stem

Bend your coat hanger (or pipe cleaner if working with younger kids) over the pinched middle of the “bow tie” shape. Twist it so it secures the papers tightly. If you are working with a coat hanger, you might want to do this with a pair of needle nose pliers. The pipe cleaner you can do easily with your hands.  If you use a coat hanger wrap the bottom with a little electric or Duck Tape so the end isn’t so sharp.

Once the flower is secured, peel the layers apart to create your flower shape. This is done by gently pulling each two layers in the opposite direction for those novice flower makers. You can finalize the shape a little better when you are done with the whole craft.

Step Four: The Leaf

Here’s where the aluminum can comes into play. With a sharp pair of scissors you don’t mind ruining a little, cut a long teardrop shape from the can.  Again, if you are making this with younger kids, use some of your leftover wrapping paper, foil, etc. for a safer option.

Next, take the “leaf” and place it up against the coat hanger stem, and secure it by wrapping the tapered end with a ribbon, piece or twine, wire, or even old copper wires.  Remember, you can be creative in what you use.

If you want to add a center to flower, take a small piece or piper cleaner or wire and run it through the bent top of your “stem.” Then curl it, twist it, or place beads, washers or small spring on the end of it to make it pretty.

Make a whole bouquet if you’re ambitious, or give this with your favorite geek mom’s card, on her dinner plate or leave it anonymously at her doorstep with a note “To My Angel.”

Flower accomplished; now your loved one can enjoy a little gift to remind them in just a few short years the Mother Ship will return and change you back into your human form…we hope.