Tuesday, May 12, 2009

First Second Books Review: THE TINY TYRANT

First Second Books Official Site

Richie Rich pretty much sucked. For a kid who could have anything, his comics sure were dull.

THE TINY TYRANT takes the Richie Rich formula and makes it work by turning the little rich kid into a wonderful asshole. See, that was the problem with Richie. The kid was just too nice to be funny (or remotely interesting for that matter). But King Ethelbert, child ruler of Portocrisco, knows how to have fun with his money. He's not content to play the same old games the simple kid folk do. He'd much rather use his vast resources to bend his world to his every whim. He has his royal scientists make him his own dinosaur. He ships away all the children in his kingdom and replaces them with robot clones of himself. He indulges any crazy whim, heedless of the consequences. Basically he does all the stupid awesome stuff every kid wishes they could do themselves.

And yet he never crosses the line from puckish to straight up unlikable. TINY TYRANT is still witty and endearing fun. The kid hovers this close to being annoying before winning us over with a funny line. Or suffering a well earned humiliation after one of his capers backfires. He's Calvin with money. He's Dennis The Menace, but funny.

Lewis Trondheim's sharp writing moves at a fast clip. It must in order to keep up with the Tyrant's darting attention span. The art by animator Fabrice Parme has a terrific retro feel. Every line looks ready to dance off the page. Reading this collection of stories is like revisiting some classic cartoon from the early 60's that never actually existed.

TINY TYRANT is an excellent funny book for kids. It's a good mix of visual slapstick and clever humor writing (of the traditional set-up/punchline variety). Like an old MAD paperback by Al Jaffe or Don Martin. But in color. And with a regular cast of characters. You're just just going to have to check it out yourself to see what I mean. It's a blast.

But see for yourself. Check out a full story right HERE.

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