Overview

Return to the DFC Library

Lowdown - Article

Share this lowdown

  • Button Delicious
  • Bttn Digg
  • Bttn Facebook
  • Bttn Ff
  • Bttn Myspace
  • Bttn Stumble
  • Bttn Twitter
  • Bttn Reddit

During the summer, as part of our Brits On Top event, Broken Frontier took a tour around the all-ages comics offerings of The DFC Library. With another three titles in the series recently released by David Fickling Books, BF’s Andy Oliver grabbed the opportunity to immerse himself in the pages of the Etherington Brother’s Baggage, The Boss from John and Patrice Aggs, and James Turner’s Super Animal Adventure Squad…

Baggage
The Etherington Brothers (words and pictures)

At the Triptych City Tram Station, Randall, a rather hapless employee of the lost property office is given an ultimatum: if he doesn’t return the oldest lost item, from the massive vaults of the station’s lost and found, within 24 hours then he will lose his job. So begins a slapstick journey around the bizarre and wacky city as Randall, and a host of chums he makes on his quest, attempt to unravel the secrets behind the mysterious baggage in question before time runs out.

With each splendid new offering from The Etherington Brothers the sense that we are seeing creators destined to be regarded as one of the all-time great teams of British children’s comics only increases. However hyperbolic that claim may sound, the reality is that there’s something very special about the Etheringtons’ empathic relationship with their target audience. In Baggage's central character Randall they have created a likeable loser that younger readers will immediately identify with and surrounded him with a group of memorable characters that will ably capture the younger reader’s imagination. Adding to this, Robin Etherington’s story is such good-natured, fun-filled silliness that kids are going to come back to it and re-read it time and time again.

When I last spoke at Broken Frontier about the brothers’work, on their previous DFC album Monkey Nuts, I said that every page contained “art so detailed that each re-read is a new journey of discovery.” I’ve since changed my mind because, with Baggage, it’s more a case of virtually every panel being an adventure in and of itself. Indeed, Lorenzo Etherington’s visuals are absolutely crammed to bursting with jokes, sight gags and intricate details. As impressive as this is, though, it’s topped by the frenetic pacing of his action scenes that account for a sizeable chunk of the book’s page count. This is the closest you’ll ever come to seeing animation on the printed page.

Curse those Etherington Brothers! It’s really extremely inconsiderate of them not to have been born thirty-plus years earlier so I could have read Baggage and Monkey Nuts when I was ten-years-old. So pick up Baggage this year for that younger family member at Christmas, sit back and then marvel in their sense of awe and wonderment as they are absorbed by each and every magical page.

And then go out and buy a copy for yourself.

To find out more about the works of The Etherington Brothers check out their official website here.

Super Animal Adventure Squad
James Turner (words and pictures)

The feline Agent K and his operatives Irwin (a kleptomaniac pelican), Rex (an intellectually-challenged lizard), Bearbot (a robot bear!) and Beesley (an upper class bee) make up the crimefighting Super Animal Adventure Squad! In the two stories that comprise this volume the team must foil a mad scientist’s plan to steal every cake in the world in “The Teatime of Doom” and save the priceless treasure known as the Jade Baboon from the cookery-obsessed pirate Green Beard in “The Case of the Baboon Bandit”.

Collecting a number of one-page and two-page strips that make up two story arcs from the late, lamented weekly comic The DFC, Super Animal Adventure Squad positively revels in its own absurdity. The humour surrounding this endearingly incompetent group of animal "super-heroes" is relentlessly and unashamedly ridiculous and yet far cleverer than you realise on a first superficial reading. Turner is quite brilliant at pacing his comedic set pieces and the running gags with the various agents’ distinctive personalities are an absolute joy!

Sometimes slightly surreal and always wonderfully, hilariously self-indulgent, Super Animal Adventure Squad is packed with laugh out loud moments (and that’s real laugh out loud moments in contrast to meaningless “LOL” moments…). Again, the target audience may be younger but this remains a piece of comfort reading that will put a smile on the faces of readers of all ages.

You can find out more about James Turner’s work at his website here.

The Boss
John Aggs (words) Patrice Aggs (pictures)

A gang of criminals are planning the robbery of a priceless treasure from a castle museum. What they haven’t counted on, however, is that a school field trip is also visiting the castle that day and those school kids include The Boss and his team of crime-busting juvenile operatives…

In contrast to Baggage and Super Animal Adventure Squad, the Aggs’ The Boss has a less dense, looser feel to it. But that’s not a criticism because The Boss, by its very nature, works hard to ensure that the visual narrative is the foremost aspect of its storytelling style. The best way I can find to describe The Boss is a child-oriented reverse-caper movie; a kind of Ocean’s under-13s, but where the focal characters are on the side of law and order rather than trying to pull off the heist.

The Boss’s eponymous central character is at the hub of a mini-network of child operatives, each of whom has a specific role to play in their operations. What I found particularly charming about this book was that, in the great traditions of UK comics through many decades, it’s the children that are the competent, well-rounded characters and the adults who are largely inept and clueless. Kids adore that borderline anti-authoritarian air in their reading matter and The Boss knowingly plays up to that.

With a delightfully rousing finale and a feel good factor ramped up to overload levels, The Boss is a welcome addition to the books collected from the pages of The DFC. Let’s hope it’s not too long before The Boss and his team get a chance to run rings around their elders and not-so-betters again!

You can visit Patrice Aggs website here.

All these three books from the DFC Library range are available now from David Fickling Books priced £9.99.

Related content

Related Headlines

Related Lowdowns

Related Reviews

Comments

There are no comments yet.

In order to post a comment you have to be logged in. Don't have a profile yet? Register now!

Latest headlines

READ ALL HEADLINES

Latest comments
Comics Discussion
Broken Frontier on Facebook