Kodi by Jared Cullum hits shelves next Tuesday, and IDW and Top Shelf Productions have provided The Beat with an exclusive first look at this adorable story of a young girl and a burly bear.

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This middle grade graphic novel is the first of an upcoming series, illustrated with Cullum’s gorgeous watercolors seen previously in Jim Henson’s Down at Fraggle Rock from BOOM! and Archaia. As depicted in this exclusive scene, Katya and her Meema are out in the Alaskan cottage when a new friend stumbles into their lives: an injured (and frankly irresistible) kodiak bear with a gentle heart and a knack for fishing. All’s well for awhile until Katya has to pack up and head home to Seattle, leaving Kodi behind to fend for himself – or so she thinks. Katya soon finds out that nothing – not even a 1,500 mile journey – can keep these two apart.

For Cullum, the story is a bit more personal than that. It’s not just about friendships, but also about the struggles of losing a love and rediscovering it. Here’s what he has to say about the inspiration for Kodi:

Kodi came from a few different ideas I had, focusing on belonging and finding your place in the world. It ended up being a story about finding something you love, losing it, and then the arduous journey to find it again. That lost thing could be a person, a place, or in Katya’s case, a huge bear named Kodi. For me, it was art. So, when I tell the story of their love and separation and reunion, I’m also drawing on my own experience: of losing touch with what I had loved about drawing and painting when I was a kid, and the long process of rediscovering it. So, this book really is a happy ending in more ways than one, because I did find that joy again. I found my Kodi. And these pages are the result.”

Check out the scene below to get a glimpse at Cullum’s work, and, if you still want more, you can find a trailer here. Kodi hits shelves next Tuesday, August 25 from Top Shelf.

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