John Patrick Green, creator of Hippopotamister and Construction Kitties, is back with a new series about anthropomorphic animals, this time a couple of alligators—The InvestiGators.

Whenever there is crime, danger, or mustaches loose in the city, the InvestiGators are there. In their first case together, Brash and Mango are investigating the mysterious disappearance of celebrity chef Gustavo Mustachio, pizza and cupcake creator. Armed with all the latest gadgets, backed up by headquarters, and in their own inimitable style, the two investigators are determined to solve the case.

Along the way, they’ll run into even more mysteries, including a missing oven and a positively explosive situation at the local science factory. They’ll track down Houdino, the missing triceratops escape artist, bake a giant cake, and bust out their breakdance moves. But even more dangerous than the mysterious criminals in the background is the secret that Brash, the more experienced investigator, is keeping from his new partner Mango…

While definitely comparable to Dogman, Pilkey’s runaway bestseller, Green presents a story all his own, complete with wacky puns, cool gadgets, and lots of silly jokes. Of course, some potty humor makes an appearance as well, as the InvestiGators use the sewers to travel around town and back and forth to their headquarters. The majority of the humans in the story present as white and all of them, even the scientists, are portrayed as not very bright. When they are evacuated from their building, there’s a “Code Sunburn” because they never go outside. There are also jokes about being sensitive (one of the scientists, Dr. Doodledoo, is a chicken) and pop culture references thrown in for the adults (kids are unlikely to get the 80s song references).

Green’s art is straightforward, with brisk, clean lines and lots of solid color. The InvestiGators’ personalities are differentiated not just by their color—they are different shades of green—but also by Brash’s more serious demeanor and goofy Mango’s wide-mouthed grin and flailing arms. The humans generally have emoji-like circles for faces and cartoon features, even when they’re undergoing surgery. In a nod to Green’s earlier teen graphic novel, written by Dave Roman, Teen Boat, there’s a were-copter to round out the silliness. Nobody does morphing from man to machine like Green, making the process both hilarious and somehow natural. Most of the violence is just threats, otherwise characters are shown with cartoon crosses for eyes and readers get the feeling that they’ll be popping up in a moment, just like the guy who gets brain surgery from the doctor-copter.

Dogman fans will, of course, devour this new goofy mystery. If you can dig up any readers who still remember Jarrett Krosoczka’s Platypus Police Squad, they’ll also be up for lots of animal puns and goofy gator investigations. There’s less crude humor than Pilkey’s work and this will also be a suitable replacement for parents who want their kids to step away from Dogman and Captain Underpants. Sure to be a hit, this is a must-have new series for schools and libraries.

InvestiGators, vol. 1
By John Patrick Green
ISBN: 9781250219954
First Second, 2020
Publisher Age Rating: Ages 7-10

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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