The Deep

The-Deep-HBD-0-196x300The Deep is thrilling sci-fi adventure. The Deep is something the whole family can enjoy. The Deep is a series of comic books collected into two wonderful volumes. And The Deep is an upcoming animated television series. The Deep is something well worth checking out.

Written by Tom Taylor (Injustice: Gods Among Us) and illustrated by James Brouwer, the first issue of The Deep came out in 2011. The individual issues have now been collected into two wonderful volumes — The Deep: Here Be Dragons and The Deep: The Vanishing Island.

These comics follow the adventures of the Nektons, a family of under water explorers aboard a sophisticated submarine, The Aronnax. The parents, William and Kaiko lead their two kids, teenaged Fontaine and her younger brother Antaeus, on a tour of the ocean’s depths as they investigate mysterious aquatic incidents.

TVI--196x300In Here Be Dragons, the family go to investigate the appearance of a sea monster. In The Vanishing Island, they go in search of an island that has somehow survived a tidal wave and mysteriously shifted location. And through it all is their desire to search for the fabled lost continent of Atlantis.

These are great adventure stories. There is enough action and sense of wonder to keep younger readers enthralled. But there’s also an intelligence to the plotlines and a depth to the characters to keep older readers satisfied. The stories have an unashamedly environmental vibe to them, without ever being preachy. Through it all is a wonderful, gentle sense of humour and lovely sense of family. It’s pretty much the perfect all-ages comic book.

And I’ve gotta say, I was laughing out loud through the whole spelunking conversation. You’ll know it when you get to it.

“You don’t love spelunking. You don’t like exploring caves. You just love saying the word ‘SPELUNKING’.”

Brouwer’s artwork is stunning. Crisp and vibrant, it submerges the reader in the oceanic depths along with the Nektons, and practically jumps off the page.

I’m not at all surprised that The Deep has been picked up for a television adaptation. I was lucky enough to see the trailer for it at a recent convention and I can say that it looks AWESOME!

But before the TV show hits the screens, I highly recommend you all check out the comics.

Catch ya later, George

PS.  Check out the official website for The Deep.

PPS. I got to meet writer Tom Taylor at a convention last month, so I have signed copies. Just saying! 🙂



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YA Reading Matters

NonaI’m just back from Melbourne for the second time in a month. Despite busy May in the book world, this was my long-awaited chance to attend ‘Reading Matters’ conference, which is organised by the Centre for Youth Literature (CYL) and focuses on YA literature and storytelling. Presenters aimed their content at librarians and teacher librarians; and aspiring or other authors would also have benefited from the program. The overall theme of diversity is hot on the heels of a US movement.

Before the conference began, delegates were invited to the Text Publishing party where the winner of the 2015 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing was awarded to Kimberley Starr, author of The Book of Whispers. Her book sounds like an original historical fantasy set during the Crusades in a world of demons. I wonder if it will be a cross between Catherine Jinks’s Pagan stories and Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy?

This is ShynessThe Text party was one of the weekend’s highlights, particularly because I met one of the Text Prize’s former winners, Leanne Hall. Her first YA novel, This is Shyness, is one of my all-time top three YA books. I can’t wait for her novel for younger readers, to be published in 2016.

The Reading Matters conference started with a panel of three teen readers, overtly selected for their physical diversity. Male rep, Chris, began by praising The Sky So Heavy, which was fantastic because author Claire Zorn had been incognito in the audience until then. He also clarified that ‘YA lit’ is a category, not a genre. There are genres such as speculative fiction and historical fiction within YA. The three panellists agreed that upcoming books should cut the romance – they’re over love triangles and insta-love/lust (instant attraction) and forget the suicide books. They simply don’t want to read them.

Authors on other panels didn’t necessarily agree about the teens’ views on romance although Will Kostakis was instructed by his editor of The First Third to write a big kiss scene. Will told us that he writes ‘awkwardness’ and ‘embarrassing’ well so that is where he took his scene. Will also wants his readers to experience the emotional side, rather than just the mechanics, of relationships.First Third

Along with other panellists, Will made some good points in a panel called ‘Hashtag Teen: Engaging teens and YA advocacy’. He turned a reluctant writing class around by running a whole lesson on Twitter. He also recommended  PTA (Penguin Teen Australia) where there’s a weekly chat. Authors such as Amie Kaufman (The Starbound trilogy) even drop in.

These Broken Stars

Hip-hop, today’s spoken poetry, raised its head unexpectedly and powerfully twice. Year 12 student, Jayden Pinn from Creative Rebellion Youth performed two lyrical, metaphorical, hard-hitting pieces. And founder of CRY, formerly illiterate Sudanese refugee and now awarded performance poet, Abe Nouk encouraged us to feel, not always think; say a prayer; deliver a service – smile; use a comma, not a full stop (don’t end, keep going); be kind and gracious; invest in people; and do not be afraid to reveal your insecurities to your pen. Abe credited hip-hop with changing his life.

Tom Taylor, Australian creator of the current Iron Man and other international comics urged us to recognise comics. His comic for young readers, The Deep, deserves a wide readership.

Clare Atkins made some important points in her sessions, particularly about consulting with someone from a different background or group you are writing about. She did this with an Aboriginal friend in Nona and Me . (See my review here.) Authors shouldn’t avoid writing about other ethnic groups if they consult respectfully.

On a Small Island‘Literary Landscapes’ was another of my favourite sessions because it took an interesting perspective by exploring the landscape behind books by Clare Atkins (Arnhem Land), Sean Williams and Kyle Hughes-Odgers.

Jaclyn Moriarty and Sean Williams’s debate on ‘Science Vs Magic’ was fresh, articulate and intelligent. Jaclyn challenged Sean with two wands but he retaliated with a laser. Jaclyn Moriarty is a lyrical speaker and delegates later mentioned that they ‘could listen to her all day’ – exactly what I was thinking. She and Sean had a feisty, ultimately gracious, battle.

Keynote international authors, Laurie Halse Anderson (The Impossible Knife of Memory) and Sally Gardner (I, Coriander; The Door That Led to Where) both had horrible childhoods. Laurie told us that she writes ‘Resilience Literature’ and explained that good stories teach you about the world; about falling down and how to get up.I Coriander

One of the most exciting parts of the conference was discovering authors hidden in the audience such as Melissa Keil (The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl), Claire Zorn (The Protected), Margo Lanagan (Red Spikes) and Karen Tayleur (Six).