Comics : Spider-Man 123 Sticker Activity Book (China)
This review was first published on: Dec 2012.
This Chinese-origin Write and Colouring Activity Book is 10.1" x 7.4". It features 20 pages of line art which encourages children to write numbers and perform basic counting. It also contains a centrefold with two pages worth of stickers featuring Spider-Man and numbers. The cover is enhanced with a holographic-effect sparkle. The code on the back is WLD-858-123.
This is a companion book to the Spider-Man ABC Sticker Activity Book (China). Note that due to some inexplicable design decision, the word "Spider-Man" doesn't actually appear on the cover.
Spider-Man 123 Sticker Activity Book (China)
Year 2011 : SM Title
The paper is surprisingly high quality... for a Chinese-created product. Which is to say it is standard white paper, compared to the super-cheap flimsy paper which is often used. The printing quality is the usual mediocre format, with all pages coloured monochrome blue or pink.
As for the artwork itself, that is a most extraordinary mix. To call it ecclectic would be to grant it a dignity it did not deserve. Most of the Spider-Man art is the same ill-proportioned Chinese-illustrated stock art which fills most of the latest batch of this Asian rip-off material. The two Chinese-origin villains "Maximum Shock" and "Lizard" appear once each.
There are the occasional fragments of Western-origin art. I think I spotted one panel that looked like Bagley Ultimate Doc Ock. The Spider-Man 3 movie logo is stamped on every page for no particular reason, while the front cover features art that looks very similar to that used on one of the Spider-Man video games. The back cover features a generic western Spidey with an "Amazing Spider-Man" title.
As if this hotpotch wasn't confusing enough, the "Number" part of the book features random clip art from other sources. An anime-style mouse illustrates one page, while coffee cups feature on another. In the sample page, children are exhorted to count clip-art vegetables. Vegetables? In a Spider-Man book?
Even the choice of vegetables evokes the culture-clash mentality behind this fiasco. Hey kids, count the number of eggplant, lentil, and carrot!
Many books these days are printed in China, and no harm comes by it. But this book offers a reassuring reminder that the creative elements of producing top-quality Spider-Man material are not going to be outsourced to Asia any time soon.
Mommy! Mommy! I want to count lentils with Spider-Man! Buy me a lentil-counting book, Mommy!
One lentil. I mean, one web.
Bad as this book may be, at least the ink isn't toxic. Hmm... well, I presume it isn't. But to be on the safe side, maybe I'll pop this book back in its plastic bag and never open it again.