Friday, February 3, 2012

GN Review -- Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken: Troublems With Frenemies / Ray Friesen

As amusing fare for very young comic book fans goes, you can’t get much more promising than Ray Friesen’s creation of Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken: Troublems With Frenemies.  If the title sounds silly and the illustrations seem wild and cartoony, just wait til you open up the book.

Essentially a collection of many very small strips (1-3 pages apiece on average) and one much larger story, Troublems With Frenemies is about the constant shenanigans of its title characters, who are ostensibly the worst of enemies, but in actuality behave like the best of friends.  Together they fight, tussle, tease, scam, and even help out one another.  In the larger story, Ninja Chicken goes off to a ninja convention while Pirate Penguin stays behind at home, eventually hanging out with Astronaut Armadillo and coming to aid Ninja Chicken when the convention is attacked by a giant monster summoned by Kung-Fu Koala, who despises ninjas.

Quirky, silly, and occasionally clever, this perky pair of crazy characters display a fairly constant schtick, even if their antics may change from strip to strip.  There’s plenty of fun as they fight for often very little reason, prank each other, question each other’s dress and hound one another for favors, and try to obtain goodies like ice cream, gum, and shiny swords.  A short assortment of supporting characters, like Astronaut Armadillo, Kung-Fu Koala, and a pesky pair of pernicious pigeons, add some flavor and occasionally create obstacles for the main characters, always in good fun.

Art-wise, Friesen employs a simple, colorful style with bold lines and distinctive shapes that should easily intrigue young readers.  His animal characters look distinctive from one another, with the possible exception of Ninja Chicken when he’s among his other chicken ninja cousins.  He does a good job of conveying facial expressions with just a couple of lines or well placed shapes, lending his characters moods that support their dialog and keep the action and the hilarity coming.

Overall, this was a highly amusing read that targets its young intended market quite masterfully.  There’s a lot of action and interaction going on for the main characters, and it’s always on the silly side.  I’d recommend this for kids who enjoy humor, pranks, and mischief that isn’t very serious or risque.  Recommended.

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