I know most of you probably don’t go in for comics or graphic novels, but I’ve been revisiting one I really like. FireBreather, by Hester, Kuhn and Crabtree.
In this post-Rowling age — where every publisher wants you to rip-off Harry Potter — Phil Hester and Andy Kuhn take the young Potter formula and kick it off a cliff, turning the entire concept on its tail.
Like a lot of these stories the origin is a little thin, but Duncan is half-human and half-dragon. And he looks it. Comments made behind his back (though he hears them) include “monster” and “orange iguana.” Of course the bullies underestimate his strength.
Duncan doesn’t find relief at school, just the usual parade of bullies, and stoners and maybe a friend or two. His differences alienate him from pretty much everyone.
Duncan isn’t heir to a magical heritage filled with lollipops and cotton candy dreams. He doesn’t get a magic wand and a sweet pet owl. He gets anthracite and iron ore. And that’s his lunch. On top of that his dad is a monster (literally) who makes his entire life miserable. [Both quotes are from the Forward by Brad Meltzer.]
A more realistic portrayal of High School you won’t find anywhere, and finding it in a graphic novel is a special treat.
If you search for FireBreather on the web, you will find copious references to the fairly bad animated movie by The Cartoon Network. It is a poor adaptation of the graphic novel, it is badly animated, and it is poorly directed. It still manages to have a couple of really fun scenes, though overall I can’t recommend it.