Reviews: The brilliant tales of the Teenytinysaurs!
For what is essentially a kid’s comic about cute and cuddly dinosaur babies (think Harry and the Dinosaurs with less Harry and relocated to the Cretaceous Period), Gary Northfield does like to draw burps, poo and bogeys. Not that I’m complaining mind, and I’m sure none of the children in the school library who already adore his Derek The Sheep will mind either. I can see this one accompanied by squeals of mock disgust and peals of laughter.
It shares an awful lot of creative DNA with Derek The Sheep, that same mad-cap enthusiasm, the same rush headlong into adventure, although this sort of tones down some of the sharper comedy of Derek for a more rounded all-ages feel, even with all that bodily fluids stuff going on. Northfield also plays around some with format, dropping in a few great double page spreads, Where’s Wally find the character pages, even a double page boardgame adventure.
The Teenytinysaurs came about when an editor at Walker caught sight on some of Northfield’s dinosaur sketches. They were immediately sold it seems, and just looking at the cast you can see why; incredibly cute dino-babies, lots of bold, bright colours, recognisably different species, but drawn with a cartoonist’s spin to make them interesting and apppealing. Yep, kids (and adults) are going to have great fun with this one. I know I did.
Inside here you’re about to meet Dave, Reggie, Ronnie, Thomas, and the oft put upon girl of the group Natasha. There’s an initial problem with Natasha, seeing as she’s the only girl in the group, and a lot of things happen to her rather than around her as with the boys. But thinking more about it, it’s actually really well observed, she’s the classic feisty girl in her gang of boys, often the outsider, always having to be that bit bolshier than them to put her point across, but she’s also filling a dual role of much loved/hated sister and caring mother to the group. Course, maybe next time (there will be a next time, right Walker Books?) it would be nice to see a few more female dinos.
Teenytinysaurs contains seven short tales of the gang, and in these you’ll find the answers to these questions and more; is the bogey monster real and made of real bogeys? what does the inside of a dinosaur look like? do clouds hold a grudge? and can you really float to the moon in a giant snot bubble?
Every story has something going for it, they’re all grand fun, all laced with Northfield’s sense of the ridiculous and the surreal. But my favourite story, just for the sheer invention and gaggery has to be ‘Journey Inside My Brother’, where the gang find themselves in the company of Thomas’ reluctant babysitting brother Colin….
That last set of 4 panels. That’s comedy. The second panel pause, followed by the ‘Uh oh’ in the third and the surprised opening of the eyes in the fourth. Cracking.
And of course, this being a fine cartoon, we have to do the whole venturing inside the dinosaur to rescue the little one. Another excuse for Northfield to deliver great gags AND bodily fluids! The kids are going to love how disgustingly mucky this is!
The art is super fun as well, loads of invention, lots of variety. As I mentioned there’s a great deal to keep looking at throughout the book, with Northfield keen on the whole added value thing. But a couple of pages really stand out, where the gang head underwater after a criminal crab who nabbed Natasha’s new necklace. Reading about it on Sarah McIntyre’s blog, I’m now aware it’s Northfield using something called ‘scraperboard’ as the basis for the gang’s adventures deep, deep undersea.
It’s really a ‘wow’ moment, just as Northfield wanted it to be:
So, great artwork, great fun, something very much to appeal to young and old. So many smiles and laughs all the way through from me. Can’t wait to show the kids at school, they’re going to love it.