By Mike Kunkel
Herobear and the Kid is the brilliant creation of Mike Kunkel, and while the book is intended for a younger audience, it is perfectly crafted, beautiful in every respect, and a fantastic story all around. The first volume, The Inheritance, is a true awakening in terms of showing how magnificent even a kids’ book can be given the right care behind the writing.
First off, Mr. Kunkel does it all here; creator, writer, and artist all rolled into one, every aspect of this book is executed with the utmost perfection. This is a perfect story for any kid or adult, and it will probably provoke a heap of nostalgia from the older readers. This is the kind of story we all loved reading as kids, and parts of Herobear even feel reminiscent of the always classic Calvin & Hobbes. The kid himself has proven to be a well-written and interesting character, which can be a rare occurrence in this type of story with a supernatural sidekick. Despite this, Herobear is the real star and a wonderful character; a loveable and powerful bear in a cape who transforms from a small stuffed toy when the grown-ups aren’t around? How can you go wrong with that?
While the characterization is enough to make this a hit book for young readers, the story itself is actually a tremendous product of care and attention on the part of Mike Kunkel. There’s something here that practically anybody can empathize with, the story has real depth and is insanely fun and interesting, the character interactions are a blast, and there are no holds barred in the overall writing. While many kids’ books typically seem to underestimate the ability of young readers’ comprehension, or come off almost patronizing, Herobear and the Kid has a fully-developed, real story that carries on throughout the series. There is also a surprising amount of writing for this kind of book, but it was immensely appreciated. Despite being a visual medium, it’s so great to have fully fleshed out text present, especially for younger readers to flex their burgeoning literary muscle. Honestly, there is almost too much that can be said about just how great everything in this book is. Suffice it to say that this really is a perfect example of how to write comic books for a younger audience.
Aside from the terrific writing, story, and characterization in Herobear and the Kid, the artwork by Mike Kunkel is awesome. Everything in the book is black and white, with the exception of Herobear’s bright red cape, but the visuals maintain a ton of life and vibrancy. The shading in particular brings a lot of extra depth and really enhances the overall appearance. The paneling is interesting, especially for this genre, and the visuals are very dynamic. A number of moments throughout the series play very cinematically and everything just flows together very well. Like the writing itself, there isn’t enough that can be said to adequately capture how great the artwork is, but this is a creator truly at the top of his game, doing what he loves to do.
Being someone who doesn’t often read comic books intended for kids, this one was a hugely pleasant surprise. There is something here for everyone to enjoy and it makes for wonderful reading the whole way through. The artwork goes above and beyond was is typically found in books for a younger audience, and this one could easily find a place among even a veteran readers’ catalogue.