There are some well-known names among the writers and illustrators of Epix, the graphic series from Mammoth. The books are aimed at 9-11 year olds, and their zappy, modern appearance should tempt reluctant readers. Whether they’ll stay with them or not will depend on how much they are grabbed by the individual stories.

Bad Rep by Lesley Howarth and Mark Oliver
Animal Avengers by Malorie Blackman and Stik
The Thing That Came From Jason’s Nose by Tony Bradman and Martin Chatterton
Derek Dungbeetle in Paradise by Nick Storme and Martin Chatterton
Heavenly Hosts v. Hell Utd. By Garry Kilworth and Mark Oliver
Baz the Biz by Steve May and Woodrow Phoenix

Derek Dungbeetle in Paradise got top marks for fun and excitement from Ben, my young reader. The tongue-in-cheek humour has plenty of adult appeal, too. Ben thought football fans would like Heavenly Hosts v. Hell Utd., refereed by the Grim Refereaper, but adults might find the illustrations demanding. Bad Rep (with an estate agent to avoid) should appeal, Ben thought, to the younger end of the age range, while the visually denser Colin the Goblin, with its lively language, might suit those slightly older than the target age. This one has a traditional ‘comic-strip hero’ look.

The Thing That Came From Jason’s Nose by Tony Bradman is just as disgusting as it sounds, so the events in the imaginary (thank goodness) town of Strangeville should be popular! I liked the combination of Malorie Blackman’s text and Stik’s stylish illustrations in Animal Avengers, and Ben thought this fantasy adventure the most likely to appeal to reluctant readers. Baz the Biz was the one that Ben liked least, but I liked its visual clarity, and Steve May’s cool, music-related dialogue.

All the writers and illustrators are wildly imaginative, and must have had a lot of fun producing these books. If you have a reluctant reader and would like to try some, I’d suggest, for sheer fun, Derek Dungbeetle in Paradise and for those who love a disgusting joke, The Thing That Came From Jason’s Nose.  Girls might prefer Animal Avengers which has a strong female lead character.

If you find any of these titles are out of print, try your local library.

(reviewed by Valerie Wilding, with thanks to Ben Webb)