I recall days when I was a child, imagining that the old lady who lived down the block was an alien from Pluto, here to spy on us. And the UPS delivery man was really a secret agent, using the friendly brown uniform and neatly stacked boxes to gain entrance in to secure locations. There was even that ime that I was pretty convinced that my cat knew more than he was letting on. those were the days.
In Gene Luen Yang’s book, Prime Baby, Thaddeus becomes convinced that his baby sister is an alien. When he learns about prime numbers in his third grade math class, he believes he has stumbled on to the perfect method for testing his theory.
Yang’s dialogue and characterizations are spot on. His characters are young enough to be endearing, but have a mature enough demeanor that they are still relatable to adults. The main character, Thaddeus is very much in the mould of Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes fame). He is biding his time until he is made President of the World and he can make everyone wear his awesome facial hair design, The Thaddeus. This is exactly the kind of fantasy that clutters the mind of an 8 year-old boy.
The art is cute and accessible. Yang’s characters are cartoony and expressive. The reactions to Thaddeus and his hair-brained ideas brings a level of realism to the story, because, let’s face it: who is really going to believe that an 18 month old is an alien?
Prime Baby is another home run for Yang. It deserves a place alongside his other stories of life and growing up, including American Born Chinese and Level Up. Look for it in a comic shop near you…but beware of the cute little baby. She might be up to no good!
Originally published in The Funny Papers of the New York Times, you can read the entire story on line for free! You know, just in case you are worried that the guy behind the counter at the comic shop might really be n evil wizard.