Hello Kitty, Hello 40
Comic – Anthology
1 Volume (complete)
To celebrate Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary, various artists share a tale starring the pop culture icon. Hello Kitty celebrates her birthday, battles monsters, enters contests, goes to space, and a whole lot more!
Hello Kitty is everywhere. You name it, there is almost certainly a Hello Kitty version of it. And now she’s going to star in a Hollywood movie. The character has come a long way since her debut on a wallet over 40 years ago. To celebrate the big 4-0, a long list of creators were commissioned to draw a short comic starring Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty, Hello 40 collects these works.
The biggest question about Hello Kitty, Hello 40 is whether this is for children or adults. While I have this listed as a Viz Media publication, it’s really listed under their Perfect Square imprint which targets children. In addition, Hello Kitty, Hello 40 is primarily a comic book, not a treasury of written stories or a visual history of the character. So is this collection just for little kids?
Each story in this anthology is two or three pages long with minimal text. There are some words on invitations and maybe an aside “oops”, but otherwise, these are wordless comics. Some are presented in more traditional Western comic format of individual boxes with pictures while others are more of a giant collage.
Of course, as you would expect, the stories themselves are generally cute and/or funny. A lot of the comics are of Kitty’s everyday life while others are more fantasy-ish. (To be fair, some of those are just her dreams.) There are a couple that feel like three pages weren’t enough to tell the full story, and one in particular had me initially confused as to whether I was supposed to read it up to down or left to right. But since others flow so nicely (a few even throw in a surprise ending), this all balances out. I do want to add it’s not an even 50-50 between good and bad stories; the fun ones outnumber the meh ones.
Somewhat surprisingly, the number of characters is rather limited. Kitty’s family and her boyfriend appear regularly. However, friends like Keroppi and Pochacco don’t make too many appearances. After Mimmy and Daniel, it’s Tracy and My Melody who show up the most. I expected a lot of Sanrio character cameos, but this was not the case.
While I did mention dialogue is minimal, the creators do get about a paragraph (some are only a sentence or two) to talk about what Hello Kitty means to them. The foreword that the back cover advertises is only about a page, and then there’s another page that briefly introduces Hello Kitty and this collection. For younger readers, these parts are easily skipped since they are scattered throughout the volume.
The real selling point of Hello Kitty, Hello 40 is the art. As I mentioned, the different artists each take a different approach to drawing Kitty and friends. Some of the artists have been in the business for years and have won many awards; others are new to the industry — or, in one case, hasn’t even finished school yet! But almost every story is visually striking. A lot of these almost look like they should have had their own full length picture book. Kitty and friends are sometimes drawn in their classic style while other versions are done in the artist’s personal style. “Jam”, for instance, is a submission done in paper collage. Another is done with soft watercolors. A couple of comics look like they could have been printed in the Sunday paper along Calvin & Hobbes and Peanuts with the simple faces and jump in shock expressions. A few have some Japanese influences, most notably “Once Upon a Hello Kitty Wedding”. Otherwise, this is definitely a set by Westerners for Westerners. (Most of the artists are from the USA or England.) Some of the comics are centered, buffered by whitespace while other artists full up every square inch. This is really the type of book where you can flip to any random page and just stare in admiration at how talented these people are.
The physical version is definitely a coffee table-type book. It’s about the size of other hardcover Western comic collections. The book is available in digital format, but this is the sort of book that shines in physical format. As a comparison, the width of the collection is about the same as the length of an iPad Air 2 (bezel and all), and it’s about three inches longer than the width. Hello Kitty, Hello 40 is hardcover with foil lettering. As you probably know, foil wears off rather easily, and my poor Kitty’s bow already has a white spot. The outline of Kitty also seems to be made of vinyl or something that makes it prone to scuffs. If you’re buying it as more of a collector’s item rather than a child’s reading material, you might want to buy a book cover for it or make sure the cover isn’t rubbing up on anything. I really wish the publisher had included a dust jacket with the collection rather than the foil accents. As for the actual comics, Viz Media really used high quality ink. The colors are stunningly vivid. Even Kitty herself is bright white. (Well, in most comics anyway.) Even better, the binding is well done. When you open the book, you don’t have to worry about part of the art being hidden by the spine.
Hello Kitty, Hello 40 is a beautiful collection for both young and old. If you or someone you know likes Hello Kitty, the only real reason they might not like Hello Kitty, Hello 40 is if they don’t want to read short comics; they would rather have an artbook or a one long story.
The book might be a little thick for smaller hands, but it’s a book that kids could easily read. Alternatively, a parent or guardian could easily sit with the child and ask them to tell the story, add the dialogue, etc. But as much as I keep talking about young readers, this is a collection any older Hello Kitty will love. It’s just a lot of fun to see Hello Kitty challenging the monsters or trying to reunite with Mimmy on a trip gone wrong. Not to mention the fact the imagery is just fantastic, and the quality is top notch.
Viz Media also publishes a series of Hello Kitty graphic novels.