What do you do, as an aspiring comic book author and graphic novelist, when your kindergartener wonders why you don’t write stories for kids his age to read?

“I sat down with him and asked him what he’d like to read, and next thing you know we were working on one together,” says NoCo writer/artist James Powell, whose “House of Fear” series of middle-grade comics debuts on bookshelves this summer. “Some of his ideas are outrageous and zany, and they end up being exactly what would happen!”

After launching a successful Kickstarter campaign to help fund the production costs (printing, and paying his artist and colorist), Powell printed and distributed his own copies to friends and at Comic Cons. Finally, he sold his series to publisher Dark Horse Comics, which helped take James and his son’s ideas to the larger market.

Powell calls the stories “Scooby-Doo meets Tales from the Crypt” because of the mix of suspenseful and empowering themes—like when kids go toe-to-toe with an evil tooth fairy and save the neighborhood from living snowmen. All of his stories are set in Colorado, with many of the characters directly inspired by his son. In fact, when Powell would get stuck on a plot twist, Daxton always seemed to come through with brilliant suggestions. “I watch him and his friends and how they react to one another,” he says, “and it goes right into the stories.”

The books aren’t just good, they do good—Powell has spoken at numerous Northern Colorado schools to promote using comics as a gateway to literacy for children who might initially shy away from traditional narrative formats. 

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