Nursery Rhyme Comics

Nursery Rhyme Comics

Nursery Rhyme Comics is an all-star line-up of cartoonists and illustrators who use their artistic chops to put fun spins on all sorts of old rhymes and songs. Fifty rhymes adapted by fifty cartoonists. Woo-hoo! I'd like to take a moment to point some choice selections.

There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe is a great variation on the old favorite. Lucy Knisley turns it into a tale of a rock 'n' roll babysitter who, when overwhelmed with a number of pint-sized clients, has them form a band called the Whips. Such clever ingenuity helps her get around the "...whipped them all soundly..." part of the rhyme that I seem to have forgotten from my childhood.

Nick Bruel, author and illustrator of the Bad Kitty series, appropriately takes on the rhyme The Three Little Kittens in a straightforward manner. No bad kitties show up in this adaptation—just some forgetful ones who want their pie.

Patrick McDonnell, who has been quite prolific lately in the children's book world, focuses on a lesser known rhyme called The Donkey. It's a short, simple rhyme and a good example of how many nursery rhymes have fallen by the wayside over the centuries. Many of the rhymes that mention death, the infectious Solomon Grundy for example, seem to have evaporated from our consciousness. Despite this, I do believe this book would be a perfect fit for a bedtime story for a couple of weeks straight.

My favorite of the batch is Craig Thompson's take on The Owl and the Pussycat. Thompson normally focuses on 500-plus page graphic novels about entering adulthood. His art is as intricate and mature as his characters often become. The dense, swirling visual style that Thompson brings helps to craft a stunning adventure that contains joyous and sinister elements.

For example, when the Owl and the Pussycat embark on a quest to get married with the beastly pig with a ring at the end of his nose (His nose! His nose! With a ring at the end of his nose!), Thompson's attention to detail creates a grotesque hog who thankfully lets the couple have the jewelry.

There are so many more amazing pieces in this book that it is definitely worth a close look of your own. They might remind you of some childhood tale or rhyme that you thought you had long forgotten. The artists bring these rhymes to life in such funny and innovative ways that its no surprise the publisher First Second is releasing a follow-up book, Fairy Tale Comics, later this year.