ozFriend, do you fear for the future of nerddom as I do? Do you look around in disbelief at the happy, normal couples – couples! – filling the seats of the multiplex for opening night of the new comic book movie – the one for which you Fandango’d tickets months ago? Do you shake your head in wonder at the fact that thick-framed glasses have gone from being bully beacons to the new must-have fashion accessory? In short, are you worried that the nerd gene pool is in danger of becoming more watered-down than Aqua Man’s loofah?

Well friend, I would rather light a candle than curse your darkness. For I have discovered the cure for what ails you: comic book illustrator and writer Skottie Young.

How is this man with the adorable first name capable of renewing hope for our species’ socially-challenged yet fantasy-able, you ask? By dint of his beautiful and utterly whimsical artwork that no child could possibly help but fall in love with. Get them started on the path to comic book appreciation early and often, I say.

Start with his most-famous works, the Oz graphic novels.  To date, Young has illustrated the first six adaptations of L. Frank Baum’s Oz books: The Emerald City of Oz.  The uniqueness of his artwork cannot be overstated. Forget Burt Lahr and his costume’s Shirley Temple curls; Young’s Cowardly Lion looks like an oversized feline puffball in need of some industrial-strength Frizz Ease. And did you know that the Tin Man had a mustache? Well, he does now. You get used to it.

Once you’ve laid this groundwork, introduce the subject…er, your child…to one of Young’s other works, Fortunately, the Milk, written by Neil Gaiman. It tells the harrowing tale of a brave father and the fantastic challenges he faces during his trip to the store to pick up milk for his children. Or so he claims. In no time at all your child will be begging you to hightail it to the nearest comic shop to seek out Young’s work on Marvel’s New X-Men, Spider-Man and the new Rocket Raccoon series. At which point the transformation will be complete, and nerddom will be secured for at least another generation.

Fun fact: I first learned about Young in a local newspaper article that revealed he currently resides in Princeton, Illinois, less than two hours away from WPL!

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