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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Best of 2013: Halcyon & Tenderfoot

Writer: Daniel Clifford
Artist: Lee Robinson
Cover colours: FiverArts
Publisher: Art Heroes

What's it about?
Halcyon and Tenderfoot are a father and son superhero team in Brink City.  Issue 1 opens at a press conference where Halcyon is introducing his new sidekick - Tenderfoot.  On the same day an old villain is watching the press coverage from gaol.  When he is released he seeks revenge on Halcyon, and the issue closes with tragedy.

I would never normally put spoilers in a review but the death in question is a vital plot point for the rest of the series.
Halcyon dies and Tenderfoot is left bereaved and angry.  His only remaining family is the household robot.  Issue 2 is called Funeral for a Super-Man and is desperately sad.  Halcyon's fellow heroes come out to give their eulogies and Tenderfoot has to decide what path his life will take - will he continue crime fighting? Will he seek revenge?  Who is the mysterious new female hero who has demanded a team up?


Halcyon and Tenderfoot is aimed at ages 10 and up, however younger readers have enjoyed it.  There are dark themes to it, so if you are buying it for young kids perhaps have a read through first.

What's good about it?
This is a really fun series, with a lot of heart and a mature approach to writing.  I don't mean that it's written for adults, but that the creators take the subject and audience seriously and don't dumb down the story just because it's for kids.

The series deals with pretty serious themes, but there is still humour and overall it feels uplifting.  The characters don't get bogged down by negativity, they overcome their difficulties develop as heroes.
The plotting is good, the pace works well, the  characters feel real and the series has passion.  It feels inspiring, it feel like great young adult literature,

The creative team have given us something really special and this series deserves to be picked up by a bigger publishing company.  It needs more exposure and more readers.  It's certainly a lot better than most of the stuff the big American publishers are putting out.  Clifford and Robinson are on my one-to-watch list - if they keep creating at this standard they will go far. 

What's bad about it?
I'm not sure that the character of Jenny Wren works well enough.  Sometimes she feels a bit forced, perhaps a bit rushed. 

What's the art like
The art is one of my favourite things about this series!  It's black and white and has a cartoony style.  The action scenes are fabulous - full of energy and emotion.  Just look at this page on the right here.  It's dead easy to read and it's exciting!

Another favourite page of mine is this one, below.  It perfectly captured the energy and impatience of youth.  If you combine that insatiable desire for doing things with a power like superspeed, you end up with someone like this kid.
The characters are drawn simply but distinctively.  It reminds me of the animation style used in Pixar films like Toy Story.  Halcyon, the father, has a broad shouldered body and a traditional superhero chin.  Tenderfoot, the son, is drawn like a typical cartoon kid with a big head, big hands and skinny limbs.  The villain is thin with a long moustache and looks like he should always be rubbing his hands together and smirking.  Kids will understand the coding of the character types, and that's important when producing stuff for a younger age group.

More information
Buy Halcyon and Tenderfoot from the Art Heroes website: http://artheroes.co.uk/
Their shop lists all four available issues, priced at £3 each.
Art Heroes are a great business, offering comic making workshops to improve kids' literacy.
If you enjoy this series you may also want to check out Sugar Glider, written by Daniel Clifford and drawn by Gary Bainbridge.  We reviewed one of the issues here.

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