Crane, Jordan – The Clouds Above
There’s one definite pattern in my reading of comics that has shifted since starting this website 9+ years ago: I don’t read as many of the titles from the “big” publishers.Â It’s odd, as I was an avid reader of most things D &Q/Fantagraphics/Top Shelf put out back in the day, but between the piles of free minis (three cheers for review copies!) and publisher who do send me their books, I just don’t get around to the big three as much as I’d like to.Â That might be changing, as the library here in Champaign has a much better selection than the one in Columbus, so I get to answer on of the many nagging comic book questions in the back of my head: “Whatever happened to Jordan Crane?”Â He’s done other books, as you can see on his website, but I was thrilled to see he made the leap to Fantagraphics.Â They have a very low bullshit thresh, after all.Â This book blurs the line between being kid’s book and a graphic novel, although I suppose you could say that it’s both.Â It’s the story of a young boy named Simon who is late for school and his fat cat Jack. After unsuccessfully trying to sneak into class, Simon discovers a staircase that leads up straight up, seemingly to nowhere.Â Jack isn’t thrilled with the idea, but the two of them go up the staircase, run into a group of misinformed birds and learn that they can walk on clouds. They find a cloud who is sad because it can’t fly so they give it a few pointers and also encounter a group of storm clouds before getting in some serious trouble.Â If you’re thinking this sounds exactly like a kid’s book and not at all like a graphic novel, well, you’re sort of right.Â I’ve never been completely comfortable with the term “graphic novel” anyway.Â For the adult enthusiast, the use of color here is brilliant in all senses of the word, and there enough cute turns of phrase to make most folks smile, at the very least.Â But yeah, it’s a children’s book more than anything else, complete with the “This book belongs to: ____” on the inside front cover.Â It’s up to you to decide whether or not that’s a good thing; I generally prefer the stuff more geared to adults, and it looks like Jordan has kept up on that end of things too with his other comics.Â If you’re simply starved for color in the dreary black and white world of small press comics, this could be a welcome antidote, or if you’re looking to get your kids into comics by quality artists where they can eventually grow into their older work.Â Parents, it’s your call.Â For the rest of us childless heathens, maybe stick to some of his other stuff, unless you’ve somehow managed to stay a kid at heart…Â $19 (for hardcover).