When I came across Mike Kunkel's work in Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam a few years back,I became an immediate fan. His cartooning style ' is unique, expressive, detailed and very appealing in a "reminds me of every great cartoon and comic strip" kind of way. I was vaguely aware of his previous work, as "Herobear and the Kid" is memorable a title, sounding iconic, like ''Smokey and the Bandit" or "Jacob Two-Two and the Hooded Fang" or "Scarecrow and Mrs. King". While I knew the name, l hadn't read the book, a) because it was a kids book and b) despite the praise/Eisners it got was a hard-to-find indie.
After BB&TMOS I was looking for the Herobear trade and or comics for years (partially because my stepson really dug the Shazam book and commented on Kunkel's absence after the 4th or 5th issue so l thought he might like to read Herobear too) without much luck. Last Summer I came across it for the first time, finally, at a street book fair, but at a premium price of $50. Despite my hunt I felt it was too steep (even after a 20% discount). A few weeks later I found another copy (among many copies!) at our local specialty kids comic book store for cover price and snapped it up. I brought the trophy home and presented it before my kids with the pride of a cat placing a dead mouse at its owners feet... and the kids really didn't seem to care. I tried to express to my stepson the significance of the book, the artist's relationship to that Shazam book he loves so much, but he kind of flipped through its pages with disinterest and a shrug. I left it out for weeks for him to read and unless he snuck it in when I wasn't around,I don't think he touched it. Too much time had passed I suppose.
Anyway,I haven't gotten around to reading it either but I'm still excited to see Kunkel back in Comics starting with the Free comic Book Day issue and this Special. It's a visual feast. Too bad it's about the adventures of some entitled kid who sleeps in his house's library and has a butIer (who isn't taking care of him because his parents were murdered before him). Is this part of the fantasy for kids reading? Kunkel dealt well with Billy and Mary Batson as orphans so he obviously has the ability to write more complex kids stuff without getting too heady. Shame that the status of this otherwise well-meaning kid got in the way of we otherwise enjoying the book.