wandering star coverDover Publications is mostly known for two things: papercraft books (including coloring books back before they were cool), and reprinting lost literary treasures, mostly in the public domain.

That reprint model changed a few years ago, when Drew Ford, then an editor at Dover, started a graphic novel line, reprinting many forgotten classics from the recent past. Not just reprints, but restorations. Handsome bindings, with extra back matter! (Even if you’re not a fan of Mercy and the brilliant artwork, definitely read the addendum.)

I, like many comics historians, have a wishlist of titles I would like to see collected. I may have met Drew Ford at NYCC a few years ago, and like most conversations, I mentioned Wandering Star, which I felt would be a great Young Adult title. I became a fan back in 1994, drawn initially by the simple cover, and by the rich art inside. But it was the story which hooked me, and which I recommend now.

Casandra Andrews is the daughter of the President of Earth, an ecological wasteland in the 22nd Century, still considered a barbaric backwater of the Galactic Alliance. Earth had repelled an alien invasion years earlier, and thus was granted membership. Casi is now on her way to the Galactic Academy, an elite school for the children of the Alliance’s rulers. Given the prejudices of the other races (magnified by adolescence), Casi deals with alienation and finds her group of friends, but by doing so, soon finds herself in the midst of another galactic war. Casi must grow up too fast, and too soon, as her father sides with the invaders, and the Alliance debates while star systems crumble.

You can read a Google Books preview here, but her style is such that it doesn’t translate well to pixels on a screen. Go buy the book…it’s a beautiful, satisfying chunk of storytelling, and you’ll want to reread it again. (And probably recommend it to young readers!)

Ms. Wood has been absent from comics since the completion of this series, but hopes to make new comics once again. In the meantime, her words of encouragement, from the introduction:

And therein lies a little secret I’d like to share with you all. If you create something, and put it out there, you are no longer alone. You are now part of the magical world of creation. Put love in it, buff it till it shines, and you will draw other people who create to you. It’s practically inevitable.

It might start at a desk, alone, in the back of your parent’s house. But like my twelve issue, limited series, it grows.


  1. Dover’s got great tastes in getting books back in print (and WANDERING STAR is a shining example), but they seem to be deadly terrible at KEEPING THOSE BOOKS available — of the recent “new wave” of Dover comics reprints (BOZZ CHRONICLES, MERCY, MURDER BY REMOTE CONTROL, NIGHT AND THE ENEMY, PRIVATE BEACH, PUMA BLUES, A SAILOR”S STORY… and, yeah, WANDERING STAR), there are no copies available from Diamond (big shock), nor from Baker & Taylor (who only will take backorders for these books now, usually a sign of OOP, not merely OOS)

    Being “back in print” doesn’t *really* help if books are not actually available to booksellers, and actually scare me because it might tie up newer printings of some of this stuff for a few more years — I could easily have sold another 10+ copies of PUMA BLUES in particular, if I could actually order them from a distributor…

  2. “Ms. Wood has been absent from comics since the completion of this series, ”

    Except the (unfinished) DARKLIGHT from 2000.

    I’m sorry to hear that Dover hasn’t been able to keep the books readily available to retailers. There’s some great stuff there, hopefully whatever the logjam is can be cleared up (though I guess with Ford having left the company the question of whether it’s going to continue to be an active imprint beyond the stuff already in the pipeline from Ford’s tenure is open).

  3. I’d always intended to read this series, but had difficulty locating sequential issues at the time (I’d find, say, issue 4, but not 1, 2 or 3 on the shelves.) After reading this review I did something I haven’t done for years; I went down to the bookstore, bought the book, and sat down and read it cover to cover in a single sitting. A very unique and compelling work. Typically Sci-fi tends to see-saw between hard science and action, but this was a very character based story whose style was endearing. Millions die, yet most of the blood letting was off-panel so it remained firmly in the YA story space. Like so many small press works of that era you can literally see the cartoonist growing in their skills, chapter to chapter. The early chapters are a bit clunky, the story slow to take off, but once it does she manages some really powerful moments. Thank you for the recommendation. I really enjoyed it.

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