Knights of the Lunch Table: The Dodgeball Chronicles Book Review.

From Frank Cammuso. Printed by Graphix through Scholastic.

What’s this? Some kids comic book/graphic novel about lunch and school and dodgeball? Some might say that sounds ridiculous. This is the tale of a new kid at school trying to adjust. Arthur, Artie to his friends, Wart boy to his sister Morgan, never fit in before and he’s scared to death he won’t fit in here either. He meets up with other outcasts, Percy and Wayne. They all fall afoul of the school bullies, Joe and the Horde. Plus there’s that nasty Principal Dagger. She even assigns him the legendary locker that won’t open. Just to mess with Artie. School pretty much sucks. Thankfully his science teacher, Mr. Merlyn seems cool.

Everyone on the same page and see where all of this is going?

This kid friendly retelling of the Camelot legend was one of the most fun comics I’ve read. Every day I see someone ask suggestions for a kid getting into comics. Every time people suggest Watchmen, or The Boys, or Walking Dead.  Great things for an eight year old. Work like this that isn’t 32 pages and two staples with capes and cowls are where we need to direct these kids.

Frank has such an amazing art style. Cartoony with echoes of his influences but also super detailed telling a serious story. School is brutal if you don’t fit in. Whether it be Artie and his friends, or any of us who lacked athletic abilities but had creative minds needing focus. If you’re lucky you found some like minded friends. Otherwise there’s no escape when chances are many of the adults in your life – teachers, aides, etc – would have also been the type to pick on you at that age.

The comic teaches kids the real important things in life. Not being the biggest or the toughest. It’s a far better thing to be loyal, to sacrifice for your friends. Best of all if you can’t believe in yourself then maybe you can believe in those who believe in you.

The last page tells me Frank Cammuso lives in Syracuse, NY. As a fellow upstate resident I’m thinking the tale of Artie was influenced by some amazing comic book stores in the area. Support the good shops! The ones that listen and direct you to the comics most appropriate for you or who ever you’re buying for. Shops like that can help any wide eyed kid discover his/her own locker of treasures or sword from a stone beginning a lifetime of four color adventures.

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