We might as well begin this post by addressing the elephant in the room, I suppose. Adam Rex is…not a lady. I mean, it’s obvious, really, what with the facial scruff and the name Adam and the fact that his Twitter handle is MrAdamRex. He is indeed just about as un-lady-like as a person could possibly be. Yet here I am, blithely bestowing lady-hood upon him. What’s up with that?
Well, after all, it is only honorary lady-hood. Much as a celebrity can earn an honorary doctorate from a university without the years of debt and cramming, so too can a gentleman, through significant acts, prove to be worthy of the Honorary Lady of Comicazi title. Now that we’ve cleared that up, you might be wondering – just who the heck is Adam Rex?
Like our previous Honorary Lady recipient, Mr. Rex writes books, mostly intended for younger audiences (anywhere from 5-16). However, he’s also illustrator, both of his own books and those of others, including very recently Neil Gaiman. He displays a mastery of a variety of art styles and media, including drawing, painting, and sculpture.
I first came across his work in the form of Frankenstein Takes the Cake, a picture book I gave to Tiny Doom for her birthday, which falls in the general vicinity of Halloween. Though Tiny Doom has progressed well beyond picture books in her literary career, I couldn’t resist this one, with its fantastic illustrations, amusing poetry, and variety of monsters (Tiny Doom and her husband, The Goog, are known to be fond of monsters.)
I was particularly impressed with the range of art work in the book, and it led me to do a little research on the creator.
I learned that he’d written a couple of non-picture books, The True Meaning of Smekday (TMoS) and Fat Vampire, and decided to order them from the library to check them out. TMoS arrived first – it’s a middle-grade targeted book about an alien invasion. Intrigued by the mix of prose, illustrations, and comic panels, I began to read and immediately fell in love.
Since then I’ve read several of Rex’s books both picture and chapter – besides the two mentioned above he’s recently come out with new series called The Cold Cereal Saga,which involves two of my favorite things, comic fantasy and social satire. And I’ve really enjoyed them all, from the seeming-simplicity of Psst, a picture book I shared with the second grader I read with, to Fat Vampire, which is a bit dark and sad and targeted to much older teens. But I’ll be honest, I’m bestowing this title in a large part due to TMoS and its super-fabulous protagonist, Gratuity “Tip” Tucci. Frankly, Tip is one of the best female characters I’ve seen in a book for kids OR adults in quite some time. She’s funny, and smart, but while she’s clever and resourceful you don’t ever totally forget that she’s a kid – she misses her mom, she’s sarcastic and jumps to conclusions sometimes. She also happens to be of mixed race, a fact that is handled subtly yet leads to some excellent opportunities for social commentary.
Tip’s foil and partner-in-crime J.Lo is worthy of an entire blog post of his own, but I am digressing. TMoS isn’t the only reason Mr. Rex is up for this prestigious distinction. He’s also a great advocate for comics as an art form – they inform much of his illustration and design sensibility.
Female-friendly, a true comics lover, and funny to boot – what we call around these parts a triple-threat! For these great feats I am proud to name Adam Rex – Honorary Lady of Comicazi!
PS: The True Meaning of Smekday! has been optioned by DreamWorks to be a movie starring Jim Parsons and Rihanna. Let’s hope it isn’t ruined.