Barbara, our 11-year-old protagonist, is unconcerned with fitting in socially
or academically. She can see things that no one else can. She has a higher
Pretty standard fare for pre-teen fantasy, right? There are zillions of YA
graphic novels out there, though. I Kill Giants’ theme sets is apart.
When books in this genre strive beyond simple escapism, they usually don’t go
much farther than coming-of-age tales. To be honest, I probably would have been
satisfied with that. The mixture of teenaged angst and zany fantasy initially
hooked me because it felt like a combination of two of my favorite cartoons,
Daria and FLCL. But the central conflict in I Kill Giants is much heavier
than either of those two, and so it’s emotional punch is much stronger.
Of course, that’s only possible thanks to the performance of the creative team.
Both writer Joe Kelly and artist JM Ken Niiumura deliver.
Kelly’s dialog is convincing, and his pacing is damned near perfect. That
wouldn’t usually be noteworthy for a book as short as I Kill Giants, but the
story’s delicate subject matter makes it much more complicated to tell. Kelly
meets the challenge with an intricate arrangement of plot points.
Niimura pulls his weight with spectacular art. Whether it’s wide establishing
shots or tight reaction panels, his work is consistently poignant. He’s control
of light and shadow will make you forget you’re reading a black-and-white book.
He captures the story’s bubbling dread perfectly through glimpses of the
terrible monsters which reveal themselves in lock-step with the realities they
This is one of those stories where the less you know going in, the better.
That’s why I’ve tried to be brief, hopefully mentioning just enough to convince
you to read it. I believe most everyone would be moved by I Kill Giants.