Beaten up, tattered, and weather worn, this volume has crossed through space to become the first extra-terrestrial comic book in print on earth. The language and even the alphabet are alien, but as human readers will soon discover, the themes and stories are universal. These interwoven stories and vignettes start out quite simply, but a darker, more complex side is gradually revealed as alien characters act out very human problems, from peer pressure to intolerance to the challenges of friendship. Beneath its apparently childlike and cartoony style, A.L.I.E.E.E.N. explores human nature, cruelty, and kindness with surprising depth and loads of humor. A.L.I.E.E.E.N. is a nominee for the 2007 Eisner Awards for Best U.S. Edition of International Material and Best Writer/Artist - Humor.
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A phenomenally prolific and well-regarded artist and writer, Lewis Trondheim has published more than 35 books in the last ten years. He is one of the leading figures in French comics, and is a cofounder of the alternative publishing house L'Association. Hilarious and caustic, he has a huge international following.
Review in 3/15/06 Booklist
Enter Trondheim's alien landscape at your own risk. In a chuckle-inducing, sadistic way, it inculcates that old lesson, "Never judge a book by the cover" over and over. Trondheim introduces cute character after cute character, only to have them die, kill, beat someone up, or accidentally destroy a city. Hidden inside of the mayhem is also a lesson in universal humanity. Although Trondheim's characters look alien, they can still make friends, smile, cry, be cruel or kind, and succumb to peer pressure. While loading A.L.I.E.E.E.N. up with violence (and the mother of all toilet jokes) Trondheim infuses the characters with an implicit innocence that allows them to transcend their alienness. The line work and color pallette impart rather a retro look as they call to mind Pepperland in the Beatles animated film Yellow Submarine in all its glory. More distinctive, perhaps, is Trondheim's decision to "write" the limited dialogue in an "alien" language with alien characters, thereby leaving the protagonists' motivations, backgrounds, and even names up to the reader's imagination. Some laugh-out-loud humor, but definitely for mature teens.Review in 4/15/06 issue of Kirkus
Designed to look like a weatherworn comic found in the woods, this outrageously imaginative graphic novel touts itself as the "first extraterrestrial comic book on earth." Through a series of untitled nonlinear vignettes, the wide-eyed and seemingly innocent-looking alien characters embark on a series of adventures (and misadventures) that capture intrinsically human characteristics. In some episodes, bright, boldly colored cutesy aliens—who bear a toy-like resemblance—juxtapose violent situations, portraying both beauty and horror, in smart cohesion. Evincing the cruelties, the comedies, and the oft-bizarre traits of the protagonists through an inventive and unique format, Trondheim distinguishes himself as a trailblazer in the youth graphic-novel market. Readers will be delighted by the wordless tale with endearing, yet rascally alien characters and the sometimes crude plot that encompasses a variety of motifs, from invoking compassion to scatological humor. Not for the younger set, but an accomplished offbeat selection worth considering. (Graphic Novel, 12 - 14)Review in 3/20/06 Publisher's Weekly
The latest offering from the prolific French cartooning sensation winkingly purports to be an extraterrestrial comic book found by the cartoonist while on vacation in the Catskills. Trondheim fills the stories with "alien" dialogue, which naturally can be read without the help of any words, filled as they are with Trondheim's trademark silent comedy. Creatures stroll through psychedelic landscapes and have adventures in miniature. They are eaten, operated on and transformed, all in just a few short pages. Like a Pokemon story gone horribly, and hilariously, wrong, these cute little aliens are always being tortured or haplessly having their eyes poked out; one even floods an entire city with an endless stream of extra-dimensional poop. The artwork represents a departure for Trondheim, as its alien "source" results in its appearing to be old: pages are yellowed, and subtle but gorgeous dot-screens fill in the lines. Adult comics aficionados who appreciate Trondheim's work will find this book quite enjoyable. Older children should also be amused by the violent but delightful whimsy found within.Review in July 2006 issue of Library Journal
What at first glance appears to be a charming wordless graphic novel for young children turns out to be something more complex and much more sophisticated. The conceit is charming enough: while vacationing in the Catskills, Trondheim supposedly came across a comic book that appeared to be of alien origin. In it, strange creatures speak an unrecognizable language and go about their adventures on a planet that seems both familiar and strange. The design of the book is marvelous, with the cover and pages given a slightly weathered look to match the framing story. The art is bright and enchanting, but the stories themselves tend to be dark, with terrible things happening to small vulnerable creatures or sweet monsters with good intentions. For teens seeking entertainment both whimsical and sardonic, this could be a real treasure, but most middle schools will find this French import to be an uncomfortable fit for their collections.—Dawn Rutherford, King County Library System, Bellevue, WAReview in 6/23/06 Kirkus 2006 Graphic Novel Spotlight
According to Mark Siegel, editorial director at First Second Books, the critical response to A.L.I.E.E.E.N. has been surprising—and overwhelmingly positive. Indeed, it's difficult to categorize Lewis Trondheim's merger of adorable wide-eyed aliens with ghastly horror-comic violence (with a bonus of toilet humor thrown in for good measure). Kirkus called it "outrageously imaginative . . . portraying both beauty and horror, in smart cohesion." These brightly colored vignettes of aliens surviving in a frightening and violent world offer cuteness and terror in equal measure—Kirkus noted "the wide-eyed and seemingly innocent alien characters embark on a series of adventures (and misadventures) that capture intrinsically human characteristics." As a plush-toy-like alien wears the skin of a dead friend and participates in mob violence to avoid being victimized, the morality of the bizarre tale shines through. Are there lessons to be learned from such, well, alien creatures? "There's a meditation in it, about peer pressure, about being oneself," says Siegel.
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