Super Animal Adventure Squad – younger readers comedy from the DFC
By James Turner
The DFC Library
The concept’s simple in Super Animal Adventure Squad – take five very inept super-agents; Agent K, Bearbot, Irwin, Rex, and Beesley and throw them into an adventure they’ll solve despite themselves, as they blunder through it all, through accident and mishap, and lots and lots of comedy.
This is one that younger readers can really get behind, as each page is essentially a strip in itself, making the reading experience a real joy for children – each page has gags, but also a beginning, middle and end, whilst maintaining a longer narrative to create something very funny and coherant. It’s really simple, really easy to read, yet Turner pulls it off, consistently delivering the gags, consistently delivering smiles and laughs. Each page builds up the storyline, and there’s two complete stories in here:
In “The Teatime Of Doom“, the squad have to uncover the evil genius responsible for stealing cakes from bakeries across the country….. society may just break down by mid-afternoon without a sugary treat….
In the second, longer tale, they’re up against despicable pirate Green Beard in “The Case Of The Baboon Bandit”.
I’m going to be so interested in how the children read this. I imagine they’ll love the silly stuff, of which there is a spectacular amount. But Turner also keeps his narrative going all the way through each story, delivering a good story and lots of funny. I remember Molly really loved this strip when it originally saw print in the DFC comic, and she remembered that fun a couple of years later, demanding to read this one before I could get my hands on it.
But it’s a sort of silly I can get as well, a Python-esque, ridiculous sort of silly, mixed in with no end of really bad punning, alongside some more complicated gags. And like all really good comedy, Turner’s timing and delivery rarely let him down. Have a look at this section, the opening page to “The Case Of The Baboon Bandit”:
Comedy abounds; the silliness of the signs, the funny face of the guard, and then that quiet build up of four panels, the guards confident “another quiet night with no unexpected occurrences whatsoever“, just to deliver that final “Ka-Boom” and emphasise the ridiculousness of it all it the guard’s surprised reaction. Just lovely work.
And by keeping the cast relatively small Turner is able to give each one of his Squad their own personalities as well, all funny in their own way. But none more so than the absolute idiot of the bunch; Agent Rex the chameleon:
He was Molly’s favourite back then because of things like that, and I can really see why she loved it. Again, micro-analysing those six panels, there’s so much going on, as four different characters hunt down clues. We shift focus from one to the next, but all the time Turner is building the gag of Agent Rex just spectacularly failing to connect the dots. Across the first four panels the clues are assembled so obviously, each character taking the focus, until Agent Beesley gets to deliver the setup line of “Why, even a buffoon should be able to identify the perpetrator from this evidence“.
Then we have panel 5, the beat, the pause, the quiet moment of reflection….. before the final panel, the gag delivered by Rex, but reinforced first by the pirate thoughtform, then the gag of Rex not getting it at all topped by Beesley’s final, decisive comment. Really great comedy going on here.
I could go on, and on, and on, picking moments on practically every page. It’s very, very good is Super Animal Adventure Squad. I imagine our children at school will love it. And thanks to the folks at the DFC Library and Random House we’ve got extra copies waiting to go on the library shelves at school, but not before our crack team of primary school reviewers get to tell me what they think about it. I think they’re going to like it. I think I’ll be telling you how much they like it very soon.
Super Animal Adventure Squad was published yesterday.