Although Big Fat Little Lit wasn’t part of the graphic novel nominations for the 2006 Cybil Awards, we’re still in a comics kind of mood here at Readers’ Rants. Edited by Art Spiegelman (of Maus fame) and Françoise Mouly, co-founder with Spiegelman of RAW Comics, this collection of kid-friendly comic shorts is good, clean, all-ages fun.
This treasury is nothing if not varied, containing everything from jokes to visual puzzles to retellings of fairy tales. What might surprise older readers who pick it up are some of the big names—in comics, writing, and illustration—who have contributed: Maurice Sendak, David Macaulay, Lemony Snicket, Jules Feiffer, Patrick McDonnell, Daniel Clowes, Walt Kelly, Neil Gaiman, Gahan Wilson, J. Otto Seibold, and David Sedaris, to name several, not to mention Art Spiegelman himself. It’s like a who’s who list.
The writer-artist pairings have resulted in some unique collaborations—for instance, Gahan Wilson’s disturbingly visceral, toothy drawing style is a good fit for a quirky, dark, but endearing tale by Neil Gaiman. And it’s great to see artists and authors who usually write for an adult audience creating work for younger readers—Daniel Clowes, for instance, or David Sedaris.
But the appeal for younger readers will be in the variety of styles and stories; the unique, creative, and interactive puzzles; and the re-readability of this charming collection. The "It Was a Dark and Silly Night" stories are especially appealing. The humor is gentle and reminds me of the sort of comics and puzzles found in Highlights magazine, only it’s full-color and just a bit edgier and more modern. Culled from their three bestselling comic collections, this best-of is a great choice for comix conoisseurs, especially those with small children.