Overview

Scratch9 #1

Review

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Scratch9 #1

Credits

  • Words: Rob M. Worley
  • Art: Jason T. Kruse
  • Colors: Digikore Studios
  • Story Title: The Pet Project
  • Publisher: Ape Entertainment
  • Price: $3.95
  • Release Date: Aug 4, 2010

Scratch9, an all-ages comic from Ape Entertainment and writer Rob M. Worley, is a breath of fresh air that hits all the right sweet spots. When it comes to all ages entertainment, having a product that appeals to new readers while not talking down to them is a subtle balancing act. Many good writers have failed at capturing not just the voices of young characters, but matching the reading level of that age range without it sounding forced.

An all-ages product that’s more successful will not only elevate a young reader’s comprehension but also throw a little something in for the adults along for the ride. It's an art from that an establishment like Pixar has down to a science. It’s especially an art form that this book has the potential to tap into further in consecutive issues.

Scratch is a lovable and mildly mischievous housecat, taken care of by the young Penelope. After the threat of a bath and being weighed down by a collar, Scratch panics and bolts for the yard. In his haste, he overshoots the perimeter and jets across the highway, into the city. He’s never seen this part of the yard before.

Scratch is quickly picked up by Animal Control and taken to the clink. The narrative picks up pace when Worley introduces us to Scratch’s fellow inmates and their backstories. Marco is a stray, born on the inside. During one of his escapes, he meets up with Pollo, a Mexican chicken forced to fight. Marco frees him and they run off and explore together. Marco and Pollo. A chicken and a cat, exploring free. Get it?

Its small flourishes like this that endears the story to the adults possibly sharing it with their kids, classroom, or a co-worker’s young one. Even the evil scientist responsible for Scratch’s predicament is named Dr. Schrödinger. It’s obvious to older readers, but at the same time, quite charming in its delivery. Perhaps some kids will ask about the little things, sparking curiosity and questions, which is the best kind of education. Teaching the fun of reading through a journey of discovery is a button this book definitely pushes.

What follows in the second half of the book is typical superhero origin fodder, rendered wonderfully by Jason T. Kruse. His art is exceptionally playful, filled with wonderful expressions and sight gags. In order to successfully pull off a simple looking style, it requires a skillful hand able to level moderation, necessity, and emotion. It’s just as technical and impressive when an artist is able to convey humor, action, and wonder with strong, bold lines. Cross hatching, heavy shadows and finely sketched facial features are tools to tell a story, not the industry standard for quality. Kruse’s pencils nail the story beats and its inherent humor perfectly.

Scratch9 is a fun little super kitty romp made specifically for the new reader, boy or girl. Fanboy parents should rejoice over the fact that there is smart and stylish material for children available outside of the Big Two. To compare it favorably, Scratch9 shares a kinship with Johnny DC’s Tiny Titans. Not necessarily in style, per se, but definitely in readability and a palpable sense of wonder.

Not shipping until August, but available for pre-order at your local comic shop, Worley and Kruse’s Scratch9 is a fun and safe read for those of you with kids, or that are just kids at heart.

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