I remember going to a comic con several years ago and picking up a book by a teenaged Ray Friesen and being awed by the kid’s spunk — writing, drawing and publishing his own books and getting his own booth, not just a little table in artist’s alley.
These days, his talent matches his ambition, and his latest Top Shelf book, “Pirate Penguin vs. Ninja Chicken: Troublems with Fenemies,” is finally available this week after a couple production delays.
It’s a hoot.
It’s goofy fun for all ages, from little kids who will enjoy the bright colors and slapstick humor to adults who appreciate a healthy dose of the absurd.
The premise is pretty simple: Pirate Penguin and Ninja Chicken are best frenemies — always fighting but also there to support each other at times.
The book starts with a series of vignettes covering such vital topics as smoothies, loneliness and spiders, and ends with a more sustained story. But really, it’s just an excuse to get goofy. You and the kids will be giggling the whole way through, whether the action is on the ground or when Pirate Penguin heads to outer space with Astronaut Armadillo.
Big Mama has the best donuts in town, but things go haywire when she’s talked into trying out a robot that’s supposed to help increase production without sacrificing quality.
The art style is crazy, and the story is, too, but it feels stretched too thin to fill the whole book. It would have been better as a shorter, more focused story paired with another one or two.
I like the look, and, as an amateur baker, I like the setting. Big Mama is a lot of fun. But more of an anthology might be the way to go.