Monkey Nuts! Daft monkeys, robot vending machines and lots of fun.
By The Etherington Brothers
Monkey Nuts is the first in the next wave of releases of material collected from the DFC comic, David Fickling’s much loved, much missed attempt at creating a weekly comic anthology not tied down to franchises, merchandising or plastic tat anchored to the covers. We featured the DFC repeatedly here on the FPI blog and Molly and I still miss that wonderful experience of a bright red and yellow envelope dropping through the letter box every Friday.
But even with the loss of the DFC as a weekly, it was quite obvious that it wouldn’t be the last we’d see of the name, nor many of the characters featured in the weekly. The first set of DFC books – collecting complete runs of single strips in very attractive hardcovers came out earlier this year; Kate Brown’s Spider Moon, Dave Shelton’s Good Dog, Bad Dog and Ben Haggarty and Adam Brockbank’s quite breathtaking Mezolith.
But enough of the past, what of the present and Monkey Nuts?
“Welcome to the Isla De Monstera, home of the world’s only tap-dancing, banana-loving, rust-fighting, coconut-talking, crime-busting organisation … Monkey nuts!”
“In their very first adventure, Sid, Rivet and Chief Tuft are forced to do battle against a horde of random oddballs and weirdos. When a mysterious signal begins to drive the local loonies into a crazy rage, the Monkey Nuts team have no choice but to grab their masks and get heroic!”
And, at least in terms of plot that tells you pretty much all that you need to know. It’s a deliberately rambling, manic burst of comic energy across it’s busy and brightly coloured pages. Lots and lots of fun, lots of silly gags and generally a plot that involves a lot of silly situations in a threat, gag, resolve, next threat format.
(Lord Terra, the not so big bad in Monkey Nuts. From Monkey Nuts by The Etherington Brothers, published by David Fickling Books)
We meet the dread Lord Terra, a comically bullying little dragon with all the requisite bumbling minions. He’s discovered that the Diamond Egg Of Wonders; a priceless, mystical treasure with unlimited power is somewhere on Isla De Monstera. But there are two warriors of good with the power to foil his cunning plans. That’s where Sid, an ex-dancing monkey with a serious banana habit and Rivet, a robotic drinks vending machine, come in. Dafter warriors of good you couldn’t wish for.
So Lord Terra puts in place a dastardly plan (he’s exactly the sort of villain who does dastardly just right), activating the Sonic Monster Magnet to attract every loony and weirdo in the area to the island; The Amazing Amazing with his incredible trickery, Boom Boy who explodes from the previously extinct volcano Mount Boom, Big Black Beard the pirate and Emporer Pollybet and the Muckybutt Temple.
And charged with keeping Chumptown safe from the weirdo and the loonys? Yes, Sid and Rivet – newly appointed number one crime fighting duo of Chumptown. How do they get to be such good crime fighters? Simple really – just add a couple of masks and a lot of luck!
And then there’s that Diamond egg Of Wonders that everyone seems so interested in…
(Warriors of good? Incompetent buffoons? Doesn’t matter, Sid and Rivet, the naked monkey and the walking vending machine do funny so very well. From Monkey Nuts by The Etherington Brothers, published by David Fickling Books)
But even though it’s a good read, and funny, with a lot of great little asides, lots of slapstick and general silliness it does have one flaw; and it’s one derived from it’s original format.
Essentially it’s a serialised gag adventure strip, and when presented as one volume the repeating cycle of threat, gag, resolution and move onto the next ridiculously silly threat does get a little wearing on this reader. But I have to emphasise the “only a little” and overall the gags and the style and the manic speed of the story compensate for the repetition.
11 year old Molly however just plowed through it, smiling all the way, giggling at the daftness, pages turning as fast as she could read them. She didn’t seem overly bothered with the repetition, so maybe it’s just me being old.
(Detailed art? Just a bit. A typically lovely busy splash page from Monkey Nuts. By the Etherington Brothers, published by David Fickling Books)
As for the art, it’s really nice. Very busy. Sometimes very, very busy. There are splash pages throughout the book that you can just spend ages looking at, absorbing all the detailing. But between these big, complicated spalsh pages there’s page after page of small panels, needed to get all the gags in, but handled very well by the Brothers. And then there’s the skill they show in delivering some lovely asides and gags to the reader, pulling off some great expressions along the way.
It has it’s flaws, but overall Monkey Nuts manages to overcome them. It’s a manic, full on adventure serial, heavy on the laughs and with some very nice, suitably kinetic artwork. Overall, despite minor reservations, it’s another worthy addition to the DFC Library.
And Molly wants it known that she thinks I’m wrong. She thinks it’s great fun and says I’m an idiot. (Oh, I love being a parent of a pre-teen)