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September 12, 2007


CR Review: Dinosaurs Across America

imageCreator: Phil Yeh
Publishing Information: NBM, hard cover album, 32 pages, 2007, $12.95
Ordering Numbers: 9781561635092 (ISBN13), 156163509X (ISBN10)

A reformatting of a popular comic distributed by Yeh's Cartoonists Across America, one would guess in order to extend its audience into venues where a simple, stapled comic book might not be welcome, Dinosaurs Across America is an educational book aimed at kids. This means I have little to no idea if it succeeds in its desired task, and any guess I'd like to lob up there risks counter-voting by the 190K previously sold. What struck me about the books was its manipulation of formal qualities: it has a framing sequence that operates like comics, but its state-by-state breakdown doesn't necessarily encourage panel to panel flow. That means this is a comic that works or fails to because of the control comics readers have in controlling how quickly and repetitively they get through a book. There's also something about the staging that is reminiscent of Larry Gonick's in a way to make you question what that author does in those panels where a great deal of information gets presented. In this book, Yeh counts on a classic children's story element of providing false information that's corrected by the smarter characters, which one assumes might put the reader on the side of the smarter characters and allow her to think of similar corrections before the dinosaurs step forward. There's a lot going on here that might not be immediately appreciated, although the sensibility and narrative drive are thus where I can't imagine an adult enjoying this material to any extent beyond wanting to read it to a four year old.
 
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