Every so often, you discover something that you may have overlooked, ignored or simply didn't know it existed that irrevocably changes your life, like sliced bread or fire. "Howtoons [Re]Ignition" #1 is one such revelation. Originally created by Doctor Saul Griffith, Nick Dragotta and Joost Bonsen, the concept is given a new life in floppy form from writer Fred Van Lente, artist Tom Fowler, colorist Jordie Bellaire and letterer Rus Wooton. The rare unicorn on today's comic rack, "Howtoons [Re]Ignition" #1 is completely all-ages and truly delivers on every level, entertaining readers with a fun, loose story punctuated by how-to projects.
Presenting readers with an elementary, but not patronizing, explanation of energy and energy transfer, Van Lente opens up this series by providing Fowler with an opportunity to draw dinosaurs, an exploding volcano, a marshmallow gun fight and an uncertain future waiting for Celine and her brother, Tuck. The story itself addresses a hare-brained idea for curbing the effects of climate change. That idea, executed by a major energy provider, gives Van Lente a chance to elucidate about climate change, but also affords him the opportunity to jumpstart an adventure for the extremely animated pre-teens.
Fowler handles the art chores on this comic book with great flair and extremely animated style, giving Celine and Tuck as much personality through their appearance and actions as possible for a comic book. Remarkably, Fowler sets the wildly expressive characters within lavishly detailed settings and backgrounds. The juxtaposition of styles can only work in comics, and in "Howtoons [Re]Ignition" #1, it works quite well. Jordie Bellaire's colors are a fine match for Fowler's work, frequently adding dimension through shading, while tinting the world around our protagonists in the most comfortable and natural way possible. Ingrid Dragotta is credited with "project design," which I presume means the layouts for the projects readers are introduced to in the pages of "Howtoons [Re]Ignition" #1. Those projects include safety goggles, a marshmallow shooter and a makeshift flashlight. Readers only need basic household materials to follow along and craft their own devices to match those Tuck and Celine use.
While the concept of "Howtoons" has been around for over a decade now, it is new to me, and I cannot get enough of it. It's informative, entertaining and masterful. While it will certainly be a hit among regular comic book fans, "Howtoons [Re]Ignition" #1 is a must for teachers (especially science), parents or bored officemates trying to liven up the dull gray cubicle farms. As noted inside the front cover, adult supervision is recommended. Who knows, those adults may even learn something. I sure did, and I'll be back for more.