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“The Aerosmurf”

Papercutz,

Comics books: Papercutz offers Smurfs, Power Rangers, Tinker Bell, Edgar Allan Poe and more

  • Article by: ANDREW A. SMITH Scripps Howard News Service
  • October 3, 2013 - 2:26 PM

Papercutz bills itself as “the industry’s leading children’s graphic-novel publisher,” and — judging from its current output — that could very well be true.

Once upon a time, that title would have gone to Harvey Comics, which transitioned from horror titles in the 1950s to titles like “Richie Rich,” “Casper the Friendly Ghost” and “Baby Huey.” Those titles — and those characters — are long gone, replaced by the likes of Annoying Orange and Disney Fairies, all published by Papercutz.

Not to mention the Smurfs! That might elicit a groan from some American adults, based on the irritating and saccharine cartoon. But Papercutz is reprinting the original European comics from the legendary writer/artist Peyo, which are far more sophisticated and funnier than the U.S. version.

Papercutz has two Smurf collections out currently, both worthy of consideration. “The Aerosmurf” ($5.99) is Vol. 17 in the continuing reprint series, and includes not only the title story, but also “The Masked Smurf,” “The Firesmurfs,” “Gluttony and the Smurfs,” “The Smurf and His Dragon” and “Jokey Smurf’s Pranks.”

The second collection, “The Smurfs Christmas” ($5.99), doesn’t have a volume number; as a collection of holiday-themed stories, one assumes it is meant to be an evergreen seller. And there are plenty of heart-tugging tales therein, including “Little Peter’s Christmas,” “The Ogre and the Smurfs,” “Strange Snowmen,” “Hibernatus Smurfimus,” “The Little Tree” and “The Smurfs Christmas.”

Granted, there’s usually a moral or a lesson to be learned from these tales, but they’re not so obvious as to be painful. The focus is on action and humor, where it belongs. For example, in “The Aerosmurf,” our lead Smurf learns the hard lesson of being careful what you wish for, when he achieves his dream to take to the air. But while he faces unexpected consequences, he also copes with those challenges in an admirable fashion, as well as paying appropriately for his mistakes (at the hands of Smurfette). All in all, there’s a lesson in there somewhere, but “The Aerosmurf” is mainly a kid-size adventure story.

Another recent Papercutz release is “Power Rangers Megaforce: Panic in the Parade” ($7.99). The main story (there’s a backup starring the Black Ranger) is an examination of trust, and I was genuinely surprised when one of the Rangers learned that not only could trust be rewarded, but betrayed, as well. In other words, the real lesson wasn’t that trust is good, but that it needs to be invested wisely. That’s a pretty sophisticated and useful lesson for “tweenagers,” likely the target audience for this book.

“Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure” ($7.99) is for younger readers, in which the familiar character from “Peter Pan” goes on a quest to replace a magic object she has accidentally broken. Actually, Tinker Bell hurts a lot of things in this story, including feelings, because she’s really a spoiled brat throughout. I found that surprising — aren’t we supposed to like her? — and found myself more invested in her comeuppance than I expected. And when it arrived, as we knew it would, she took her lumps and made some friends in the process. I’m as cynical and jaded as any comics fan, but even I felt like this story hit the right notes.

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