Review: Von Doogan solves it all….
David Fickling Books
Von Doogan appears weekly in The Phoenix Comic, a page of devilish puzzlement, guaranteed to leave even the most adept cryptic clue experts scratching their heads occasionally. There are codes, mazes, word puzzles, verbal games, picture clues…. every imaginable type of game and puzzle you could wish for is here, all ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 skulls for a Von Doogan difficulty rating. One is simple, fast fun, whereas five means prepare for a task truly herculean!
And lets get this out of the way right now, for all those looking at this and saying it’s not comics… you’re wrong. Sure, it’s not traditional comics, but every comic page tells a story, each puzzle is an integral part of the story, solving the puzzle the only way to continue the narrative, essential to move on, a part of the comic page.
Across 37 pages with 37 puzzles you’ll help this bequiffed hero on an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones, taking Von Doogan to various exotic locales; docks, warehouses, safe rooms, beaches, jungles, catacombs…. Von Doogan will venture forth into them all to seek the solution to this mystery, to work out once and for all just what the Curse of the Golden Monkey is all about. Along the way he’ll decipher deceptions from the dockworkers, stowaway on The Ramona and crack codes to find Captain Nemo, race through the Jungles of Javasu Island, analyse mirrored maps and break the patterns of the booby-trap bridge. Somehow this has something to do with several tons of stolen gold, a machine able to create perfect fake Aztec coins, and the legendary lost Golden Monkey. Oh, and then there’s the whole ‘Kuthulu‘ thing behind everything…. mystery, intrigue, danger… spooky goings on…. Boo!
It’s a tough life being Von Doogan!
But before he can do any of that … he needs to let the postman in to deliver the mystery package, a note from his old friend Jake Wingnut…
Even getting in the door is a puzzle here, and what a beautiful looking puzzle it is as well. Every page is like that, a visual delight, Eherington filling every available inch with lavish details, with bright colours and some fabulously fun imagery. The puzzles will enthral but the artwork will delight, there’s a happiness on each page, Etherington’s stylised artwork adept at drawing everything from a storage hold full of nothing but crates to a a multi-coloured poker table, a page full of a couple of hundred keys to a Rube Goldberg of room sized proportions.
Just look below at those pages… the cartooning is fluid, lively, colourful, the characters of hero and baddies coming through loud and clear, the fun detail in something as simple as the top view of the docks and the knots tying up Jake. Yep, that’s what made Von Doogan so much fun to look at. But the puzzles are what makes this specially fun, if occasionally infuriatingly difficult!
For those really stuck, you can find the answers at the back of the book, although I’m going to be mean Mr Bruton at school and remove those particular pages. Mean me.
So, grab a pencil, some scrap paper, a pair of scissors and a mirror, download Von Doogan’s Danger Kit here and get puzzling. There’s a fab comic puzzle adventure to be had. And a fab adventure puzzle comic to be read. One final thing, the Etherington Brothers’ blog has a brilliant ‘How to draw Von Doogan’ here….