A. L. I. E. E. E. N.: Archives of Lost Issues and Earthly Editions of Extraterrestrial Novelties

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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 ...

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

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, WA

Review 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.

Publishers 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. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Working out of France, Lewis Trondheim is one of the hot talents in European comics. His "Archives of Lost Issues and Earthly Editions of Extraterrestrial Novelties" proves his originality and adeptness in both wordless plotting and illustration. Purportedly based on an alien book left at a Catskills campsite, Trondheim creates a dark vision of a bright, flower-filled, extraterrestrial world. Happy, hopeful little blobs bound through the seven interrelated stories. Speaking in caption-balloons filled with hieroglyphic-like words, these gentle protagonists seek only peace and friendship. Alas, they are repeatedly squelched. The images are filled with odd, disconcerting violence: a doctor who destroys; cities overcome by mudslides of excrement; blood pouring from the mouths of illogically battered creatures. As beautifully fantastical as the premise and the execution of this book is, the final message is one of despair. This is definitely not for youngsters. 2006 (orig. 2004), First Second/Roaring Brook Press, Ages 12 up.
—Kathleen Karr
KLIATT
a.l.i.e.e.e.n. stands for Archives of Lost Issues and Earthly Editions of Extraterrestrial Novelties. It was "discovered" by the author, Lewis Trondheim, when he was camping with his family in the Adirondacks, and purports to tell us what alien kids read. This graphic novel is entirely visual; the aliens talk, but in an unknown alphabet. These beasties live in a world Salvador Dali would love, and come in all shapes and colors. Many resemble deformed M&Ms brought to life. There is a plot of sorts, which involves an alien creature that gets its eyes poked out and then proceeds to bury the rest of the characters in a poop flood. a.l.i.e.e.e.n. isn't for everyone; if there's a moral to this story, it escapes me. There is scatological material and quite a bit of violence, much of it surprisingly intense for a children's book. Of course, little kids love violence and poop jokes, but this is still a difficult graphic novel to classify: I doubt older kids will like it, and the violence may be a bit intense for younger grades. Twelve-year olds may like it. a.l.i.e.e.e.n. contains scatological material and violence, and is an optional purchase for middle school library collections. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2006, First Second Books, 96p. illus., Ages 12 to 15.
—George Galuschak
Kirkus Reviews
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 its 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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596430952
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Publication date: 5/2/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 8.35 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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