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Nick Mag Presents The Best of Nickelodeon Magazine All-Comics Special
posted March 9, 2007
Viacom International Inc., magazine, 52 pages, February 2007, $4.95
Saying that the Nickelodeon comics section is one of the best things in comics always sounds a bit like a pose. Saying you like a suite of comics aimed at kids is counter-intuitive in these graphic novel times, and the magazine is removed in a sense from the regular day-in, day-out discussion of comic books ironically giving it some status as a publication outside of comics circles.
However, any sort of a flip through a publication like the wonderfully-named Nick Mag Presents The Best of Nickelodeon Magazine All-Comics Special
and it's easy to come away with a positive view of its content that more than counters the doubts from those skeptical of front-runners and poseurs. In English: there's a lot of neat cartooning here. A lot of alt-comics' best humor cartoonists prove equally adept at crafting jokes for kids (Michael Kupperman, Johnny Ryan, Sam Henderson) and the best artists can provide stunning-looking work no matter the intended audience (Craig Thompson, Brian Ralph, Jordan Crane). In fact, in the case of the latter, the comics they do for Nickelodeon reflect a color and printing process that may be miles ahead of how we're used to seeing their art, and is flattering as all hell. This issue, which includes plenty of cartooning advice, even confirms which cartoonists are good teachers and better interviews.
If there's anything keeping this from making the move from constant, pleasant, mainstream source for quality cartooning to arts comics must-have the kids be damned, it's the lack of transcendent discoveries that has distinguished anthologies throughout comics history. There's a bunch of solid work, but almost inevitably when you go searching for a credit it's someone with whom you're already familiar. Is that really a criticism? Well, sure it is, but one that's so far away from the quirky but rock-solid entertainment the magazine attempts to provide I'm not sure it matters. Well into my teens when I went to the dentist's office I cracked open Highlights
for its mediocre comics. Those were the days when any comic anywhere was cause for celebration. In a day where I'm surrounded by comics 24 hours a day, and can't escape them, I'll still pick up periodicals like this one and enjoy the experience that much more.