Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (August 10, 2010) – All-ages comics and graphic novels are still a rarity in publishing. As comics have skewed to an older and more mature readership, relatively few titles are currently being published which appeal to younger readers. And, of the currently available titles, very few feature girls as the story's protagonists. Von Allan, an Ottawa-based artist and graphic novelist, is trying to tackle this problem with the publication of his all-ages fantasy graphic novel, Stargazer.
“Comics and graphic novels have appeared to skew toward older readers over the past twenty years or so,” said Allan. “While there's nothing really wrong with that, it's a shame there aren't more age-appropriate graphic novels for younger readers, especially when you consider the history of the medium. Characters like Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. all had a very diverse readership back in the 1930s and 1940s. Boys and girls embraced these characters in a way that rarely happens in today's publishing climate. I think that's a shame; when readers are not introduced to comics at a young age, it's much harder for them to embrace the medium as they grow older.”
“Comics and graphic novels are such a wonderful form of storytelling and I believe it's very important to reach out as much as possible to younger readers,” added Allan. “I think this situation is actually made worse by the lack of stories featuring girls as the main characters. While there are a strong female protagonists in young adult fiction, in comics this is far less prevalent. Part of the reason I wanted to create Stargazer is to challenge all of these norms. And I also wanted to try and show that just because a story may appeal to a younger reader certainly doesn't mean that it has to be dumbed down or otherwise simplified. People often forget that children can often handle subject matter that belies their age.”
Stargazer is the story of Marni, a young girl dealing with the recent death of her grandmother. That death has left Marni emotionally devastated and struggling to cope. Granny Hitchins was a wonderfully curious woman, responsible for giving her granddaughter a rich sense of imagination and adventure, as well as an old and mysterious "Artifact." While not a replacement, the Artifact is nonetheless a treasured memento for Marni after her grandmother's death. With the love and support of her two best friends, Sophie and Elora, and the magic of the Artifact to comfort her, Marni is just beginning to cope with the loss of her beloved grandmother when her life takes an abrupt and strange turn. While the girls are examining the Artifact on a backyard camping trip, the object suddenly takes on a life of its own, transporting the three friends and their tent to a strange and distant world. After summoning their courage, Marni, Sophie and Elora venture out to explore their alien surroundings, where they find a surreal world containing a robot, a mysterious far-off tower, and an illusive yet terrifying monster. Scared, yet buoyed by the stories and songs that they've heard while growing up, the three girls gather their meagre supplies and head out into the wilderness, determined to find a way home. A magical tale with the most unlikeliest of heroes, Stargazer is an exploration of friendship, loss, and hope. By turns terrifying, poignant, and humorous, Stargazer is part fairytale, part science fiction, and part adventure story.
Stargazer Volume One has an ISBN of 978-0-9781237-2-7, a suggested retail price of $14.95 US/$15.95 CDN and is 122 pages in length.
About Von Allan: Von Allan was born red-headed and freckled in Arnprior, Ontario, just in time for Star Wars: A New Hope. The single child of two loving but troubled parents, Von split most of his childhood between their two homes. Additional information about the graphic novel can be found at http://stargazer.vonallan.com
P.O. Box 20520, 390 Rideau Street,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. K1N 1A3
Sample Images from the graphic novel (please click on each image to open larger versions):