Pirate Penguin Vs Ninja Chicken: Troublems with Frenemies


By Ray Friesen (Top Shelf Productions)
ISBN: 978-1-60309-071-1 (HB)

Yo Ho-Ho, me Hearties! You know what day it be? International Burble like a Buccaneer Day! Or somesuch festival at least…

Pirates have been a cornerstone of popular fiction for centuries and these days the very best of the genre can usually be found issuing from European shores. However, even these salty swabs often aren’t enough to satiate modern attention-deficient little (sea) urchins, so it’s probably best to beef up the proceedings with an equally-prolific sub-set of thrillingly iconic evil-doers from the recent past, popular mythology and the New World…

Some cartoonists and childrens’ authors like to beguile and bemuse the readership: building mesmerising plots and seducing the attentions. Others – like Ray Friesen – instead choose to hit them with a million gags a minute, getting ‘em all shook up like fizzy, sugar-saturated drinks inexorably building to a big, bombastic explosion and imagination-overload coma…

Making his name with vibrant all-ages volumes such as Lookit! A Cheese Related Mishap, Another Dirt Sandwich or Fairy Tales I Just Made Up: Snarky Bedtime Stories for Weirdo Children, self-made zany Friesen here introduces lifelong foes and best buds each dedicated to propounding their own swashbuckling action-packed philosophies and fighting styles in initial outing ‘Smoothies and Scuffling’ in which the fowl fiends can’t help but prove that they can’t get on for long…

The hunt for appropriate animal companions comes to a typical conclusion in ‘Pet Store Peer Pressure’ and gender identity is cautiously explored in ‘Sticks and Stones and Sugar and Spice’ before ‘Shiny Power Costs Extra’ sees the fighting fools one-upping each other in the armaments race…

A cunning third force and potential mutual adversary debuts in ‘Chameleon Short Circuit’, after which the war of wills resolves into a ‘Question Inquizition’, but halts to allow re-provisioning. Sadly, the clash with ‘Selfish Shellfish’ leaves Ninja Chicken ‘All Alone’ with a deadly yoyo, before the Penguin privateer pops back for tonsorial advice in ‘Follicle Follies’ and makes the ninja deal with a pushy spider in ‘Arachnophobia’

An untitled origami lesson – tricky if you’ve got a hook instead of flippers – then finds ‘Ninja Chicken Vs Somebody Else’ after which ‘Quick! Everybody Disco!’ sees a battle dance off result in a clear victory for one of the ancient adversaries…

Following a fraught and inflammatory ‘Breakfast of Champions’, reality itself gets a soft makeover in ‘Tough yet Fluffy’, after which the dire disadvantages of a ‘Night Fight’ soon become painfully apparent whilst packets of gum cause ‘Bubble Problems’ and inspire a musical interlude in ‘Revenge! The Musical’ as well as a petty encore in ‘Revenge! Revenge Against Stupid Dry Cleaners!’

A flurry of silent gags follows under the umbrella heading of ‘Pirate Penguin Vs Ninja Chicken: Card Trick or Treat’ after which the war goes wide screen in ‘The Biggest, Giantest, Epicest Pirate Penguin versus Ninja Chicken Story Evar!’ (consider yourself warned…)

It all starts over ‘Breakfast’ when Astronaut Armadillo comes to call and the Chicken heads to Vegas for a Ninja convention…

Feeling abandoned, Penguin has ‘More Breakfast’ whilst learning there are worse things than an eternal frenemy. The Chicken also has second thoughts. After enduring an ‘Inflight Snack’, ‘Telephone Calls’ and ‘Walking Calamari’ the allure of hotel accommodation is beginning to pall, but by now the restless pirate soulmate has headed off-planet, encountering ‘Sandwich Inna Tube’, ‘Fancy Space Chocolates’ and a ringside seat to a clash of titans in ‘Astronaut Armadillo versus Cosmonaut Capybara’. Meanwhile, the evil genius behind all the mayhem shares his Machiavellian schemes and things start getting a bit strange…

It all wraps up in blistering fight fashion in ‘Land Ho!’ with a trans-dimensional ‘Epilogue’, offering clarity and the “Endingest End” imaginable…

Added attractions to occupy anybody left capable of coherent thought or movement include an Activities section revealing ‘How to Make a Pirate Hat’, ‘How to Draw Pirate Penguin {both the Quick and Geometric methods!})’, mazes, puzzles, ‘Ninja Chicken’s Extra Hard SuDontku’ and ‘How to Make a Pair of Nunchuks’. Capping it all is a vast (Avast! Gettit?) gallery of guest drawings by the likes of Roger Langridge, Katie Cook and others of the cast and a Fumetti Outroduction from Friesen himself…

Frantic fun, ferociously daft, and available on paper or via the electric ethers, this is a cartoon corsair no kid of any age should steer clear of…
© 2011 Ray Friesen. All Rights Reserved.