With many publishers creating imprints for graphic novels and a plethora of new content, it’s a great time to be a comic-loving kid. This series start comes from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s new graphic imprint, Etch, and it’s a wild, goofy ride.
The informal leader is Teri-Dactyl, smart, inspirational, strong, and she can fly! Dave the triceratops is the strong guy; his only weakness is pizza. T-Lex is always ready for hugs, selfies, and terrifying roars. Bach is their genius, except he only writes in chicken scratch and never says anything but bok. This can be hard to understand. Together they are Dinomighty! the protectors of their city and the nemesis of evil-doers. But, unbeknownst to them, they have two dangerous enemies who are planning a skillful heist of the rare golden Egglettes, safely hidden in Cosmo Castle.
Well, not that skillful. Their secret enemies are Diplodocus and Diplodoofus and they’re just… not that smart. Which means that, however evil they want to be, they just never pull it off. But not this time! This time they have a plan that will make them the Dinomighties’ foremost evil foes! Hijinks ensue, with poetry-spouting dinosaurs, missing security guards (hey, they were on vacation!) and a final shocking surprise from the Egglettes themselves.
Blecha, a native of my own state of Wisconsin, has illustrated a long stream of children’s funny stories, including the popular series George Brown, Class Clown, the sadly out-of-print Zombiekins, and also works in the toy and game industry. This is his first graphic novel and he brings the wild fun with his character designs and clever illustrations of Doug Paleo’s (I’m pretty sure this is a pseudonym) goofy situations. Teri wears a warm-up suit, as she’s always ready to go, Dave has a classic 80s sweatband that makes his horns and neckfrill look like an afro, T-Lex is dressed in pink polka-dots with her ever-present pink phone and selfie stick close at hand. The city and landscape are covered with riotous colors and the dinosaurs themselves shine in hues of orange, purple, and green. There’s lots of humor around their size, as they cram into tiny cars or balance on rafts, and the Diplo brothers show off the full range of their ridiculous schemes in silly disguises, like wearing a wooden log as a hat/mask. Bulging cartoon eyes, lots of crashes, explosions, bams and pows, fill out the story and will keep readers giggling and turning the page until the end.
This latest series joins a hilarious line-up of comics for young readers, from Bad Guys to Dogman, that will keep them reading and laughing all the way through. Unlike many of these popular series however, these creators give equal time to the female members of the group and they’re all given distinct, if one-dimensional personalities. The text and art will be accessible to readers who are at an intermediate level in their chapter book reading, but less fluent readers will also appreciate the story, even if they aren’t able to catch the more subtle humor. Be ready to preorder the next title in the series, and pair it with some great nonfiction dinosaur comics if you want to expand your reader’s horizons.
By Doug Paleo
Art by Aaron Blecha
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NFNT Age Recommendation: Middle Grade (7-11)