Edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Published by Amulet Books
Copyright © 2012
“Explorer: They Mystery Boxes” is a beautiful, fun, and original collection of short graphic fantasy stories created by 8 excellent comic writers and illustrators.
Under the Floorboards (by Emily Carrol) is the story of a young girl who finds a box under the floorboards of her bed. In the box she finds a note and a wax doll. This doll is alive and while it seems helpful it soon lets its true colors show.
Spring Cleaning (by Dave Roman & Raina Telgemeier) is the story of a young boy who has to clean out his closet. His brother suggests that he sell some of his stuff online, but when he tries to sell an odd box it catches the attention of three very eager wizards.
The Keepers Treasure (by Jason Caffoe) tells the story of an intrepid treasure hunter who makes it through a land filled with dinosaurs, chest-deep bogs, and “glacial wastelands” only to find that his final destination comes replete with a Labyrinth and its guardian who will lead him to the box he’s looking for.
The Butter Thief (by Rad Sechrist) tells the story of a little Japanese spirit who likes to steal butter from the refrigerator until grandmother traps it in a box. That is when the fun really starts for her granddaughter who just has to see what she actually caught.
The Soldier’s Daughter (by Stuart Livingston w/Stephanie Ramirez)is the story of two siblings who have lost their father in a war. The daughter feels a compulsion to seek vengeance for her father’s death. A stranger with a visionary box shows her what she must do.
Whatzit (by Johanne Matte w/Saymone Phanekham)is a comical tale of alien warehouse hi-jinks. When Deet gets a big promotion by his grandpa to help with stocking the Grand Universal Exhibition he finds that the job might be more than he can handle when he finds and opens a box marked “?”.
The Escape Option (by Kazu Kibuishi ) is a story about a seemingly random hiker and the extinction of the human race. James is hiking in the wilderness where he happens upon a huge mechanical floating box which sucks him in and gives him the option of saving himself from mankind’s fate.
Kibuishi has given us a collection of graphic stories/comics that are unique and different from each other in all ways but one. Each story contains a mysterious box. Whether it is the box, that is unusual or what is in the box, these writers/illustrators have created stories that are thoughtful, haunting, and even funny. Some of the stories have morals and some have punch lines, but all of them are well written and colorful. I particularly enjoyed “Whatzit” and “The Escape Option” because I don’t think there are enough alien stories anymore. Comics/graphic novel fans of any age will enjoy this compilation, but it is most suited to children ages 10 and up.