If you’ve been reading comics for longer than a day then you’ll know that there aren’t enough titles out there suitable for kids. It’s kind of ironic that comic books are stereotyped as childish nonsense when in actuality the vast majority aren’t even suitable for any child to read. Well thankfully there’s a new kid-friendly comic out this week called Penny Dora & the Wishing Box. It’s written by Michael Stock but is actually based on his daughter Nico Ludwig-Stock’s plot, who had created the character and story for school when she was just 8 years old. Meanwhile Sina Grace is the book’s artist and brings the whole thing to life.
The story begins on Christmas Eve as a mysterious present is left at the house of a young girl, Penny Dora. The entirety of the story takes place within her house as Penny Dora, her mother and her cat Iggy celebrate Christmas together. Through some casual references we learn that Penny Dora’s parents are separated but that’s basically all the backstory we get. Instead the comic just lets the characters be themselves and there’s really no other baggage to keep track of or details to memorise.
Penny Dora herself is a typical kid, she’s adorably goofy at times and has a kind of simple innocence to her outlook. It really helps the comic that she’s our point of view as we see everything through her curious and optimistic eyes.
The artwork is a perfect fit for the premise, it’s simple looking but not left lacking. By keeping it straightforward, but with a cartoonish edge, it matches the lighthearted nature of the story. It’s perhaps a little bit inconsistent though, as detail varies here and there, but there are no glaring problems or anything that’d yank you out of the immersion. Most importantly it flows well, the panel structure is dead on and it makes for a pleasant read. Tamra Bonvillain’s soft colours add another very welcome layer of charm too.
There’s almost something fairy tale-like to the comic. You can feel that something magical is going on but it doesn’t feel dangerous or threatening, it’s a Disney kind of magic. You know the characters are relatively safe, but the story is no less alluring and interesting. It’s simple but it’s still engaging, you won’t find a complex plot here but there’s tons of fun little moments all the way through.
The best thing about Penny Dora & the Wishing Box #1 is honestly how incredibly charming and appealing it is. It’s not just one single element but everything working together that builds this atmosphere. It’s the wholesome art style, the straightforward story, Penny Dora’s fun personality, it’s even the curious behaviour of Iggy the cat. There’s a cohesive feel to the book that’s just really darn likable.
If you’re a parent looking for a comic series to buy your kid then you can’t go wrong here. There is no reason not to pick this up. That said, as an adult I still got a lot of enjoyment out of it. It’s a very warm story that reminds you of the excitement and energy of being a child. In a market dominated by gritty and brutal storylines Penny Dora & the Wishing Box is a wonderfully amusing example of how fun comics can really be.