Random Comics Theatre
Akiko #40 
AKIKO is a great long-running kids comic by Mark Crilley, featuring a young school girl who winds up in a series of ridiculous adventures with friends from the faraway planet Smoo. Published by Sirius since 1996 (following a one-shot in 1995) it's been a while since the last issue (#52), as Crilley has been writing and illustrating novels about Akiko (nine to date, plus two more on another series, Billy Clikk). I mostly read the series in the tradepaperbacks (six of them reprinting the main stories in the first 38 issues, plus one reprinting the back-up stories and all of #39), but after a while I got sick of waiting for the next one (they've been re-releasing them in a smaller "pocket size" format before doing any new ones) and picked up the uncollected issues.
This issue starts off "The Battle of Boach's Keep", a story that shows off the sci-fi aspects of the series, going so far as to open with an (acknowledged) tribute to the opening of STAR WARS (starting on the wraparound cover), a motif that continues through the storyline (I especially liked the use of Lucas style wipes across panels for the major scene transitions).
Anyway, this issue has one of her friend's Spukler Boach, getting a message that his home planet has been sold to a corporation, so he makes plans to return there to gather his effects and get payment.
Wipe across to Akiko on Earth, building a snowman when she's picked up by Bip and Bop for a short visit to Smoo, leaving the usual Akiko robot behind to cover for her.
Crilley also does a back-up story, as he does in most issues, taking advantage of the chance for an occasional change of pace or artistic experiment. This time it's a story of Akiko visiting an uncle and learning about Japanese fans.
One of the good things about getting the regular issues of AKIKO is the stuff that won't show up in the collections, in this case the cover and the letter page, where he always gets a lot of funny letters from younger readers, and the fan art, in this issue including pros Scott Roberts (PATTY-CAKE) and Paul Sizer (LITTLE WHITE MOUSE).