Maker Comics Survive the Outdoors Review

By | Thursday, July 01, 2021 Leave a Comment
I could swear I did a review of one of First Second's previous Maker Comics books, but I'll be damed if I can find it now. In any event, today I'm taking a look at the latest in the series: Maker Comics: Survive in the Outdoors! by Mike Lawrence. The series sa a whole is aimed at Young Adult readers, with each book offering to teach them how to do a vareity of things around a single topic (e.g. grow a garden, fix a car, draw a comic, etc.) through a related narrative. In Survive in the Outdoors!'s case, two kids are taken fishing with their grandfather. He teaches them how to fish, but sprains his ankle on their way back so also teaches them about first aid and making an emergency camp.

Like the other Maker Comics books, the protagonists are kids. This not only helps to justify why they don't know much (if anything) about the topic at hand, and I expect it also makes it a little easier for the primary reading audience to relate to the characters and their experience. The stories are thus very deliberately centered around "here's how you do this thing" and flow pretty naturally, as an adult walks them through things step by step. That these are all comics makes the diagrams perfectly at home with the story as well. When we're shown how to tie a fishing line here, for example, each step of the instructions has a clear illustration showing you what the line is supposed to look like and where the end should go next.

For the past several years, I've been working with more of a prepardeness mindset. I'm increasingly of the opinion that, if a disaster occurs, the government will be unable (if not unwilling) to provide the support needed and your survival as an individual will largely depend on your own ability to save yourself. I've posted here before how we need an ongoing webcomic to address the types of things people should be learning and doing. And while Survive in the Outdoors! is limited by its page count, it does go a fair way down that type of path, even though it's couched more in terms of a simple fishing trip.

I haven't read all the books in the Maker Comics series, but creator Mike Lawrence does a good job here when held up against those I have read. I'll admit that I wasn't keen on his illustration style at first glance, but it didn't take long for me to begin to appreciate what he was doing with it. Even more importantly, I saw his storytelling skills were on point and that worked particularly well in several of the instructional portions.

In the story, beyond just learning how to fish, the grandfather teaches the kids how to gut and cook a fish, with an excellent manner of addressing the obvious "ew, gross" reaction from the kids. But then the sprained ankle the grandfather sustains also means they aren't able to make it back to his car and are forced to camp overnight. Which means building a campfire and a shelter, as well as providing solid reasoning for everything he packed in their emergency kit. It really does become a Boy Scouts/survival skills type of adventure, despite being presented in more of a hiking/camping light.

The book obviously doesn't go through every type of knot you're "supposed" to know, or how to bushcraft other types of shelters for different environments and/or purposes, or how take care of broken bones, but I do think it serves as an excellent starting point for learning these types of skills and what it covers, it covers very well. If the only "preparedness" you do is read this book, you'll likely be miles and miles ahead of most people. Well worth picking this up!
Newer Post Older Post Home