Evil Emperor Penguin


By Laura Ellen Anderson (David Fickling Books)
ISBN: 978-1-910200-51-3

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Outrageous Antics and Brilliant Buffoonery… 8/10

In January 2012 Oxford-based family publisher David Fickling Books launched an “old school” weekly comics anthology (aimed at girls and boys between 6 and 12) which revelled in reviving the good old days of British picture-story entertainment intent whilst embracing the full force of modernity in its style and content.

In October 2015 The Phoenix will release its landmark 200th issue – the first British comic publication to reach that milestone since 2000AD – and as always each enchanting instalment offers humour, adventure, quizzes, puzzles and educational material in a joyous parade of cartoon fun and fantasy.

In the years since its premiere, the periodical has gone from strength to strength, winning praise from the Great and the Good, child literacy experts and the only people who really count – the totally engaged kids and parents who read it…

The magazine’s pantheon of superbly engaging strips inevitably led to a line of superbly engaging graphic novel compilations, the latest of which is a riotous romp starring a gloriously malign arch-wizard of scientific wickedness who will delight all readers with a profound sense of mischief and unbridled imaginations.

Conceived and created by children’s book illustrator and author Laura Ellen Anderson (Kittens, Snow Babies, My Brother is a Superhero {with David Solomons}), Evil Emperor Penguin lives in a colossal fortress beneath the Antarctic, working tirelessly towards total world domination, assisted by his stylish, erudite administrative lackey Number 8 and a cute, fuzzy, loyal, endlessly inventive little abominable snowman clone named Eugene. EEP had whipped up a batch of 250 but none of the others are quite like Eugene…

EEP appointed the hairy, bizarrely inventive tyke his Top Minion but somehow never managed to instil him with the proper degree of evilness. He is, however, a dab-hand with spaghetti hoops so it’s not a total loss…

Following a pin-up info page ‘EEP’s Evil Underground Headquarters (Top Secret!)’ which discloses all you’ll need to know before an assortment of vile vignettes begins with ‘A Stitch in Time’ wherein the cape-clad malcontent megalomaniac unleashes his Evil Emperor-bot of Icy Doom at the annual World Leaders’ Picnic.

Unfortunately, due to a totally typical cock-up with the plans by oafish underlings, the titanic tin-can terror’s ice-laser eyes have somehow been replaced by instant knitting machines…

The next invention doesn’t even get out of the lab before malfunctioning. ‘Have No Fear’ sees a nasty device that manifests personal terrors run amok in the lab, unleashing EEP’s domineering mother and sweet Eugene’s incredible, ghastly secret phobia before the inventors can reach the Emergency Self-Destruct Button, after which ‘Cat-astrophe’ introduces a terrifying rival in the Word Domination stakes who infiltrates the bad bird’s base as a cute and fluffy feline pet for Number 8…

When EEP’s giant spider robot immobilises the entire Earth in its ‘World Wide Web’ even Evil Cat is caught off guard and only Eugene’s unwholesome preoccupation with shiny, sparkly unicorns prevents total disaster.

The top-hatted, moustachioed, perfidious puss then attempts an amnesty with ‘The Truce: Part 1’. The fuzzy fiend is, of course, shamming friendship and the floral gift he proffers is in fact a deadly animated booby-trap which is only just defeated thanks to Eugene’s usual ineptitude in concluding episode ‘The Truce: Part 2’

Would-be World Dictators are not a particularly forgiving bunch and when the fuzzy tyke accidentally unleashes the full force of EEP’s Ferocious And Really Terrible machine, ‘The Stinking Truth’ released in a Nuclear Stench Cloud prompts EEP to fire the Top Minion. His loss is Evil Cat’s gain though and Eugene soon settles in with an Evil Master who really appreciates him.

‘Please Alight for the Domination Station: Part 1’ soon finds them quashing the chilly, Caped Fiend’s scheme to transform Britain’s seat of government into the Houses of Penguinment but a pitched battle between super-science cat and brilliant gadget bird swiftly escalates beneath London streets in ‘Please Alight for the Domination Station: Part 2’ and Eugene’s cuteness-filled ultimate weapon sadly takes out his new boss by mistake…

As a result of that debacle the little snowman is briefly evaporated by Evil Cat and ends up floating wistfully over Antarctica as a ‘Head in the Clouds’ even as Evil Emperor Penguin faces his greatest challenge when his little sister Ruth – she prefers “Ruth-less” – pays a visit, sees what big brother is up to and decides that she too is going to rule the world in ‘Sibling Rivalry: Part 1’

Things get even worse when Evil Cat interferes, holding Ruth-less hostage in ‘Sibling Rivalry: Part 2’ but everybody involved has foolishly forgotten that little turncoat Eugene is afflicted with niceness and a powerful conscience…

This initial outing exploring cartoon evil and daft depravity then concludes with an epic 4-part saga detailing ‘The Return’ when sweet-natured Eugene’s continual bodges at last force Evil Cat to fire him with extreme prejudice.

Hopeless, homeless and homesick, the shaggy savant is on his last legs when he’s taken in by jolly unicorn Keith, who nurses him back to health and flies him to Antarctica just in time for them both to become embroiled in the final fateful clash between Penguin and Cat. Naturally such devoted do-gooders can only get stuck in and engineer a magical reconciliation…

Rollercoaster-paced, hilariously inventive and happy to be silly when it counts, this is a captivating spree of smart, witty adventure, which will delight readers of all ages.
Text and illustrations © Laura Ellen Anderson 2015. All rights reserved.

Evil Emperor Penguin will be released on October 1st 2015 and is available for pre-order now.