Pencilmation: The Graphite Novel

Penguin. (Pencilmation). Dec. 2022. 192p. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9780593383742.
Gr 6-10–This graphic novel of 23 short chapters is based on an animated Youtube series of the same name. The series started its run in 2009, aimed at an adult audience. Pencilmate, the lead character, was created by Bollinger when he was 16. As in the animated series, there are plenty of cartoon explosions, violence, and scatological humor here, as Pencilmate makes his way through a variety of dilemmas. The slapstick humor works in a few episodes, such as “Romancing the Stone,” “Put the Pebble to the Metal,” and “Host Busters.” The full-color illustrations fill each page with a mix of panel sizes and bleed into the gutters. There are mock ad pages interspersed throughout for services, such as unusual pen pals, or items to make or purchase, such as clothes for pencils or (borderline creepy) best friend handcuffs. There is very little dialogue. All the stories are narrated by a sophisticated third party whose vocabulary and jokes buried in the chapter titles will go over most readers’ heads. The YouTube series may have a huge following, but children (of any age) deserve better.
VERDICT This wannabe Warner Cartoon/MAD magazine mash-up is better suited for older teens who enjoy the animated series. For younger readers ready to move on from “Captain Underpants” and “Dogman,” offer them Frank Cammuso’s “Knights of the Lunch Table,” Ben Hatke’s “Mighty Jack” and “Zita the Spacegirl,” Jimmy Gownley’s The Dumbest Idea Ever, or Jennifer L. Holm’s “Sunny” series.

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