Our award-winning graphic novel, Smash, Book One: Trial by Fire, is on sale now, published by Candlewick Press! You can order it at any fine independent bookstore or comic book store, or buy it online:

Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound

Like many 10-year-old boys, Andrew Ryan is short, lacking in athletic and social skills, and daydreams about being a superhero. Unlike other boys, however, Andrew’s dream actually comes true when he gains super powers and becomes the costumed crimefighter known as Smash!

He’s about to discover how difficult it really is to finish your homework, keep your room clean, and sneak out after curfew while fighting crime. Co-created by Chris A. Bolton (writer) and Kyle Bolton (artist), Smash is an all-ages comic that aims to put the fun back in superheroes!

Junior Library Guild selection
2014 Children’s Choices Book Award winner
2013 Oregon Spirit Book Award winner
2014 Black-Eyed Susan Award nominee
2014 YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens nominee


School Library Journal:

Smash is an action-packed crowd-pleaser….The full-color artwork is full of kinetic energy. Action sequences are rendered with a cinematic feel, heightening every punch, explosion, and impact. Smash pays homage to the genre while adding tweaks that make it all feel fresh. This is sure to be a draw for superhero fans and reluctant readers alike.

The Horn Book:

Mixing humor with action makes for a winning combination; a vivid palette and classic comic book-style greatly enhance the graphic novel package.

2014 Children’s Choice Book Awards:

The comic book art and fast-paced story hooks readers in the first of a new series.

Good Comics for Kids:

Kids and adults can enjoy this superhero title that’s filled with humor, action, and art that makes it a fun ride for everyone.

100 Scope Notes blog:

There’s no shortage of superhero graphic novels, but Smash: Trial by Fire is more well done than most….[I]t’s full of drama, humor, and seriously thrilling action sequences. To summarize: kids are going to love it.

Library Media Connection:

While SMASH started out as a web comic, its transition into the comic book format has been super….The character is full of pluck that is true to a ten-year-old’s spirit while keeping older readers entertained. Readers will cheer for him as he goes through his days. The illustrations are well-drawn in traditional superhero comic book style….This title is perfect for elementary and middle school boys, especially reluctant readers.

Kiss the Book:

I am always on the hunt for a great graphic novels for elementary students. The catch is that they must have quality artwork and a quality story, all while staying G rated. It’s a tricky bill to fit and this graphic novel does a fantastic job. The cover art itself is so great that students are going to be fighting over this. The illustrations are top notch: bright, fun, action packed, and creative. The story will relate to any student who would like to try to their hand at superhero powers. Hooray, this book made my day! A must have for any graphic novel collection!

Richard Dansky, The Sleeping Hedgehog:

SMASH: Trial by Fire sits squarely at the intersection of Spider-Man and Calvin and Hobbes. And this is a good thing….Although specifically targeted at kids, SMASH: Trial By Fire isn’t condescending or simplified. There’s plenty here for adult comics fans.

Colleen Mondor, Bookslut:

SMASH has a lot of humor….[Chris] Bolton makes Andrew extremely believable and lets him fulfill a few kid fantasies along with the more serious hero stuff. Kyle Bolton’s artwork is perfect; the faces are very expressive, and he captures Andrew’s alternately confident and overwhelmed expressions with aplomb. Elementary-schoolers are going to get a lot of joy out of this one, and I hope a sequel, set up by the final pages, will be released soon.

Kirkus Reviews:

The Boltons provide easy-to-follow panels filled with action, wide eyes, banter (“Not another step or it’s bye-bye puberty!”), and comically exaggerated differences between the puny (looking!) caped crusader and his much buffer adversaries. Smash battles his way through robots and other minions to a climactic and rousingly destructive…climax that, natch, paves the way for sequels. Three cheers for the underdog.

Children’s Literature:

The pages are set up in a variety of ways, and the full color of the story is engaging and enticing. [A] solid new superhero tale. A fun addition for kid-targeted superhero collections everywhere.


[The Boltons] add some much-needed realism — Andrew has a fear of heights (which makes flying complicated); his brother alternates between bullying Andrew and worrying about him; and the local police have trouble accepting a child as a superhero. Kyle Bolton’s cartoonish art recalls Frank Cammuso’s (The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, 2013), but it has a refreshingly everyday color palette. There is violence (it’s a superhero story, after all), but it is appropriate for the intended audience, and the ending leaves plenty of stories to tell in subsequent volumes.

Sal’s Fiction Addiction:

Filled with rip-roaring action and adventure, graphic book aficionados will find much to hold their attention and set their hearts pumping….The pacing is perfect, the subject matter is sure to satisfy….If you are looking to add to an ever-expanding list of accessible, enjoyable graphic literature, this one’s a winner!

Kids’ Book Review (Australia):

The story and its smooth, clean artwork are classic comic book style, and easy to read….All-around fun for superheroes in waiting!

The Webcomic Alliance (Pick of the Week):

[A] wonderfully fresh and exciting superhero online comic that speaks to the imagination and excitement for superheroes in us all….For a fun online comic that reminds us of those dreams of being superheroes when we were kids, and a fun all ages comic that mixes both action and comedy, look no further than Smash.

Expert Comics:

Smash is simply one of the best family, all ages books in ANY medium. The storytelling is absolutely fantastic….Smash has the reader believing that kids can be superheroes, and the world is a better place for it.

The Comic Academy:

[Smash] is an excellent example of a webcomic which engages and entertains young minds….This is exactly the kind of title that can open up the world of comics to young kids.

Shawn Gustafson, The Specialists:

In a comics landscape that has become increasingly dark and angsty as the average reader has aged, Smash is refreshingly light and whimsical. To put it simply, it’s just fun. The art by Kyle Bolton is reminiscent of cartoon animation, with super-expressive faces and a bright palette. The writing, by Kyle’s brother Chris, is fast-paced and funny. Best of all, it’s an all-ages comic. It’s kid-friendly, but not dumbed-down so that adults can’t enjoy it.

David Benioff, writer/producer of Game of Thrones:

Great job. I’m hooked!

Scott Smith, bestselling author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins:

I checked out Smash, with great enjoyment. The storytelling is so bracingly clean and efficient, and I liked the artwork, too….I think you’re continuing to do a fantastic job with it.