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Leukemia Man to the Rescue

What’s Up with Richard: Medikidz Explain Leukemia

Submitter: This one may not be in anyone’s collection yet (pub date is April 2010), but I want to pre-weed it.  There is no way I would ever purchase this for a teen nonfiction collection.  It reminds me of early 1980s X-Men comics.  We’ve been laughing at this cover for hours, especially the baby in the suit of armor at the front.

Holly: The cover IS pretty funny!  These disease books for kids are one extreme or the other:  so horrifying that it makes kids cry, or over-the-top, ridiculously upbeat and “cutsey.”

0 Responses to Leukemia Man to the Rescue

  • I guess they were thinking, “If we use superheroes, kids will automatically love it” – unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anyone involved in the decision-making process knows anything about why superheroes and comic books appeal to kids, so this is what they ended up with. Sad.

  • It reminds me of something Grant Morrison would do, where he’s exaggerating superhero tropes and twisting them around psychotropic drug references and meta-narrative. Probably not the intended effect.

  • You can see one of the guys bulges. o.o

    • Actually, that’s not unstandard for comics. Many superheros end up looking like they’ve stuffed a sausage down the front of their pants. It’s really no worse then then chests on some of the women (which seem to be inflated with helium).

  • Whatever happened to that old saw about not judging a book by its cover? It might apply in this case.

  • That has to be the most ridiculous cover I’ve ever seen. At least I’ll get a good laugh out of it. I do wonder how someone would be able to stop laughing long enough to try reading it.

  • I can’t decide who I enjoy most: the brain with bionic legs, or the red blood cell with the wide-brimmed detective hat.

  • Waldo’s brother the scientist is over there on the left.

  • What is that guy with his arms in the air in the right background even doing? It just looks wrong.
    And why is the main guy in the foreground dressed as Ponce de Leon?

  • why is harry potter’s left hand up liza minelli’s crotch?

  • If the superheroes married the kids from Fame, this is what their kids would look like.

  • oops, sorry, there are two harry potters. i meant the one w/o glasses, in the purple. but i stand by my liza ID.

  • No, no, no. This has too many warning signs of a bad book to ignore. “Kidz” with a Z. The stilted attempt at teen slang (“What’s up with. . .”). The aggressively mediocre art. If I were a child (or God forbid, a TEENAGER) and someone handed this to me, I would immediately hide it out of sheer mortification. It’s trying way too hard.

  • This particular book’s pathetic cover defies

  • This cover raises so many questions. Is the dude in the middle Richard? Are those things in the background with swords the villains?

    I actually did a Google search for “Medikidz.” It turns out they have several books, which can be found at http://www.kidzcomics.com. One is called “What’s Up With Paris: Medikidz Explain Childhood Overweight,” which sounds grammatically incorrect to me. And the cover art of “Medikidz Explain Breast Cancer” shows them riding on a wave of what appears to be breast milk. All the covers are pretty strange.

    • Oh, and I just noticed that the Medikidz are described as “super–powered actionpowered action–heroes with onwith attitude.” It’s like they just threw a bunch of buzzwords in there and hoped for the best.

      • Engrish superpowered bloodcell book for kidz no grammar necessary learned illustration mystery offshore editing Dorling-Kindersley not. I can has cheeseburger now?

  • But it must be good. It has the American Cancer Society seal of approval on it!

  • It looks like some bad Broadway musical. They are all standing on their toes dancing and singing about the evils of Leukemia. I totally don’t get the top hats and is the guy in purple wearing a WWF championship belt?

  • Is that a singing and dancing red blood cell and white blood cell down in front with the jazz hands and bowler hats? Ewww.

    Forget about what’s up with Richard? What’s up with the publisher?

  • i don’t even think this kind of thing is needed. i’m eighteen myself and when it comes to teenagers, either they’re mature enough to read up on diseases on wikipedia or even get an ‘adult’ book on it, or they’re not, which means that they’re going to need a sensitive conversation with an adult about the subject and no book is going to help them.

  • Yes, what’s up with “Richard”? Or whatever name Richard might choose to go by…

  • It looks like a musical set from the cover. Ergh.

  • I’m with Duncan. If someone gave this book to my friends and I when we were 12 or so we would have found it HILARIOUS.

    Leukemia probably should not be hilarious.

  • It looks like Arnold Rimmer is wearing a purple tunic over blue stretch pants with a huge gold belt.

  • that brain w/metal legs is…just….Wrong. like something out of a nightmare.

    is that a red blood cell w/the hat, or is it a pill?

  • i can’t wait to see what’s up with alice, medikidz’ update on “a real diary”…. they can reuse some of the characters from this one, i think.

    and, bizarrely, “overweight” is now the “preferred” medical term, used as noun, not as adj… grrr… grrr… enough to make a copyeditor puke. which would be what’s up with me.

  • I think I might know what’s up with Richard but I don’t want to insult him…

  • Presumably some committee of well-meaning experts sat down and thought this would be a good idea, though at first glance it seems pretty cringe-making. “Edu-tainment”, mentioned in their website, would get an easy laugh on the Simpsons, wouldn’t it? I also agree about “Kidz” and the stupidity of trying to use any kind of ‘street slang’. When the middle classes know a slang word, then it’s no longer cool.

    Having agreed to all that, some of these issues, notably leukemia, are scary diseases that usually come with a one-way ticket. It is therefore just possible that the people who produced the booksDO know what they are doing. Note that they have been endorsed by the London Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, definitely one of the finest (if not the finest) paedeatric centres in the world. Let’s not forget that what looks ridiculous to cynical, world-weary librarians (yes, us), may appear quite different to, um, almost everyone else on the planet. These books are almost certainly aimed at much younger children than teenagers, and younger children WILL find them attractive and interesting. If Fate has dealt you the very, very bad hand of childhood leukemia, finding that there’s a big boys’ comic about YOUR disease might actually be rather a positive thing and help you to come to terms with it.

    Anyway, before going for the Khomeini Memorial Prize (awarded every day for judging a book without knowing anything about its contents), let’s perhaps give them the benefit of the doubt?

  • I think the addage of not judging a book by its cover does not apply to comic books or graphic novels.

  • What’s up with the small boy in the foreground dressed as a baked potato?

  • “Bye-bye, life!
    Bye-bye, happiness!
    Hello, emptiness,
    I think I’m gonna die!”


  • I can’t imagine what small kids must think leukemia *is* after seeing this!

  • !!
    were there more books in this series? ‘No’? Hmmm I wonder *why*?

  • I dunno, it doesn’t seem any more ridiculous than the “imagine your body fighting the cancer” stuff I was told as a child. I drew pictures of flying monkeys with swords attacking weird black blobs at the recommendation of both my oncologist and my therapist. Apparently it was pretty standard for a seven year old back in 1992, if that’s still the case then the comic isn’t horrible for younger kids.

  • no, there ARE more books – see comments above! it’s a CURRENT book, too.

    i think it’s the art itself that is creeping us out. it’s so fascinatingly weird. (i suppose… that means it’s doing its job…? like, the kids will stare at the pictures as long as we’ve stared at the cover, and it’ll distract them at least?)

  • I can’t remember how it came into my possession, but I had a similar book in my mid-teens… it was an overview of the immune system, where the red blood cells, etc., were personified just a little, with faces and little gags. It was corny, but passable for kids. I remember thinking, “this could be a lot worse”.

    I see spiky gray turds flying through the air. It’s officially worse.

  • Siegfried and Roy cure cancer. It disappears like magic.

    Everyone on the cover has a full head of hair…hey…wait a minute….is this book some kind of trick? I remember those cheery books about “Johnny Gets His Tonsils Out”- full of smiling nurses, bowls of ice cream, a puppy peeking out from under the bed.
    And HA! At nine I learned the hard way- books do not represent reality.

    Jazz hands do not enhance the leukemia experience.

  • i just want to comment again to keep this wonderful thread alive. god help me, i just shoved it over to my desktop and made it my wallpaper.

    prince valiant. that’s what’s up with richard: he needs the prince valiant hair to fit the clothes.

    and there are three people who are touching or nearly being touched by him. richard needs more personal space.

    and why is madonna there alongside liza.

    and why no top hats for the brain on legs and the little armored guy?

    clearly, the recession is giving me too much downtime.

  • Nice slam, web site. Here’s one problem. X-Men comics are often seen as having been at their best in the early 1980s. If you want to constrain your conversation exclusively to the large number of people who don’t care about the X-Men, why put in such a qualifier as “early 1980s.” Also, what if this book brings comfort to some child who has cancer? Will your overly wordy slams help save that child? Or will you just stand there stammering out wordy slams all day long?

  • Clearly, every person who laughs at this cover is a bad person who wouldn’t care about a kid who has cancer, so why bother trying to explain the nuances of x-men comics and empathy to our lot…?

  • Jeez, that’s scarier than the “Psychedelic” book above it.

  • Somewhere,Bob Fosse is rolling around in his grave.

  • “Glee” presents the X-Men!

    I showed this to my sister. Her jaw dropped when I told her that it was about leukemia. Always the reaction you want to go for.