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This week I am pleased to bring you a collection of reviews of books from the Lion Forge family. I was luck enough to spend a bit of time with the great people at Lion Forge the weekend before last at NCTE, and their discount at the show was too good for me to pass up! Luckily for me, the books I’ve read so far have been super cool, and I look forward to sharing them with you throughout the week…
Title: The Scarecrow Princess
Author(s): Federico Rossi Edrighi
Publisher: Lion Forge Comics (2017)
Age Rating: 17+
Not going to tip-toe around anything here; this book contains a nude fourteen-year-old girl, a naked man, and a scene alluding to said fourteen-year-old girl masturbating.
I did not expect to find these things in a book titled The Scarecrow Princess that contains the art of a solid YA graphic novel. So forgive me as I attempt to figure out my ideas on this text as I write this. As I am writing one of these a day, and I just finished the book about thirty-minutes ago, thoughts are still flying through my head as I write, however, I did show my wife the pages in question, and yes, she did confirm the nudity and the masturbation. Parts of what I discuss here have been shaped by the conversation that I had with her.
One important thing to note as we continue here is that Lion Forge has a history of taking popular, successful foreign graphic novels and publishing their English translation. It’s a great idea, and I’ve been exposed to many new writers and artists because of it. This book was originally published in Italian, and I cannot speak to the cultural sensibilities of Italy. Here in America, nudity and sex = bad. Violence = totally cool! Maybe in Italy, the nudity flies.
Here in American classrooms and some households, this book would be considered too mature for young eyes. And I hope I’m not too far off base here, but this book feels like, for the most part, it should be YA. The antagonist, her issues, the plot…all speak to relate to a young audience. And maybe what I’m seeing here as questionable is just my teacher lens acting as a wall. But as I asked Craig Thompson about Blankets (one of my favorite graphic novels of all time), why not just cover up the naked parts of the body to increase school book sales? He had not thought about it because he hadn’t created his book to be taught in classrooms. We might have yet another one of those situations here. We cover up the little bit of nudity, and delete the page of alluded masturbation, this book quickly becomes 13+ instead of 17+. And I get the argument of Adam and Eve and the apple…(read to find out what I’m talking about here) but there are books with cleverly placed leaves and bushes covering up private bits.
Ronell Whitaker and Adan Alvarado think I’m a bit of a prude sometimes, but I’m just looking out for teachers and parents.
While this is an interesting conversation, my thoughts about the book do not end there. It’s actually a really cool concept! Family (mom, older brother, younger sister) move into a new town because mom and older brother are writers that investigate and write about urban myths around the country. Our teen protagonist quickly learns that the monster of the town is in fact real, and she obtains a magical scarecrow’s jacket that allows her to challenge and fight the “King of the Crows.” As her mom and brother are kidnapped by the King, she must use all the skills and tricks at her disposal to save her family and herself.
This premise lends itself to a bunch of cool imagery and color shifts, and while the pacing is a bit quick for me, the amount of story told in 160 pages is impressive.
You’ll have to read this one for yourself and see what you think. I’m curios to know. My final verdict is that this is a cool concept that would be much more universally accepted by a larger grouping of parents and teachers with just a bit more editing. But you may believe that editing the author’s original art is not true to the meaning of art itself…
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