Von Doogan and the Curse of the Golden Monkey - by Lorenzo Etherington
Corpse Talk - by Adam Murphy
Bunny vs Monkey - by Jamie Smart
There is much to treasure in our island's comic illustrator talent. The Phoenix Comic continues to bombard us with inventive, clever and wickedly funny strips which, when collected together in their series make for a very satisfying read. Here are three of my favourites from this year.
Von Doogan is a Tintin-esque adventure story of rescue, buried treasure, codes and puzzles and maps - but here's the catch - it is YOU, dear reader, who must solve the puzzles. It might be an untrustworthy crew member trying to catch you out; or avoidance of sharks, or the most efficient escape route; maybe divining the pertinent clues from the scattered photos, telegrams and documents as the clock is ticking and the prospect of fighting a waking mythological beast is rearing its ugly head... If you have the mental agility, a keen eye for detail and a steady hand in a tricky situation then maybe Doogan will live to fight another day. The puzzles require all your concentration! Do not read while on the train or performing any tricksy brain-surgery on anyone you care even remotely about.
If I said Corpse Talk is a kind of proposal for a chat show in which the author and illustrator (Murphy) get to see what some of our most beloved and accomplished, nay, respected historical figures have to say for themselves after all these years. Think of Emmaline Pankhurst, Jane Austen, Einstein, Genghis Khan, Mozart, Alexander Von Humboldt, even Amelia Earheart has been found... Politicians, dictators, writers and scientists take a break from pushing up the daisies to dish the dirt on their career and it is witty and strange and educational with a capital 'ewue'.
While Bunny and his friends were growing up in the forest, Monkey was being trained to be an astronaut.* So when he crashes in the forest he goes on the rampage as you do if you are drawn by Jamie Smart. Mixing a hefty dose of megalomania with a bad attitude and a penchant for Weapons of Mass Defoliation and giant robots (yay) he is on course for upsetting the balance of nature. Fortunately for the planet, Bunny and his ADHD forest friends are mildly irritated by his behaviour and somehow manage to turn the tables. Utterly bonkers nonsense from Mr Smart who gave us the mutant world of Fish Head Steve, Looshkin and other gems I cannot tell you about here... The Nature vs Nurture Debate. Or is it Science vs Nature?
Other favourites include Andi Watson's Glister and Gum Girl series, the gloriously mental and category-defying Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka, Ariol, and anything by the Etherington Brothers.