The Weirdly World of Strange Eggs (Amaze Ink/SLG Publishing)

strangeegg-header.jpgAn eccentric weirdo gives a mysterious gift to a pair of unsupervised youngsters in this highly imitative new all-ages story.



78 pgs. B&W; $7.95

(W: Chris Reilly and Steve Ahlquist; A: Jeremy Mann)


The Weirdly World of Strange Eggs is a book intended for children, and it reads very much like its authors sat down and thought to themselves, "Hey, let’s write a comic for kids!" The book is chockfull of the kinds of clichéd characters and plot points that readers would typically expect to find in kids’ books, featuring two children left to take care of themselves and a mysterious stranger who brings them a gift that turns their world topsy-turvy.


In essence, it is the kind of book that adults often think that kids would enjoy but that they rarely actually do. It’s highly imitative (and not in a flattering way), borrowing heavily from other, more successful children’s books. The main characters of the book, the two children Kip and Kelly, seem to have been lifted right out of Dr. Suess’ The Cat in the Hat, while Roger Rogers, the man who appears in their backyard tree and gives them an egg to hatch, channels Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka.


The plot is quite nonsensical and random, and again it seems very much as if writers Chris Reilly and Steve Ahlquist didn’t feel the need to give any explanation for why things happen the way they do because "kids won’t care if it doesn’t make sense." While it is true that absurd storylines are not exactly out of the ordinary for a kids’ book, this story piles weird non sequiturs on top of each other without any kind of internal logic. When one creature who hatches from an egg turns out to have grape jelly for blood, it just so happens that another creature has an insatiable craving for grape jelly. The children then turn to Dr. Apples for help, the woman who lives down the road and who, coincidentally, is a B-movie-actress-turned-vet who specializes in weird animals.


The cover to the Weirdly World of Strange Eggs by Jeremy Mann.Admittedly, there are a couple of laughs to be found here and there, and the book as a whole is not without its moments of charm. But these moments are few and far between; I think the only scene that made me laugh came towards the beginning of the book when Roger Rogers talks about mammals which lay eggs. For the most part the book was trying too hard to be zany, like when one creature gives birth to another by passing gas.


By the end of the book, the authors try to shoehorn in some kind of point to all this silliness. It turns out Kelly’s logical, scientific nature means she has no imagination, which could put them all in harm’s way, so she has to use her imagination to save the day. But this theme feels very forced and it’s almost, in a meta-fictional way, a bit of a copout. Rather than having to explain everything that’s going on, Reilly and Ahlquist have the little girl imagine it all away and make the point of telling us that always looking for the logic in things means you have no imagination, which is bad.


Also, there is a revelation about the kids’ father in the end of the book that comes completely out of leftfield. It is supposed to tie back to a thread of parental responsibility (or the lack thereof) that has been touched upon throughout the book, but it was never executed in a manner meaningful enough for this twist to have any real significance.


Jeremy Mann’s artwork is very uneven, and frequently amateurish and sloppy. There are a few pages which show a small measure of skill with panel layouts, including a particularly well-paced page that nicely conveys a sense of waiting as the kids watch their egg hatch, and in a handful of places—like the two-page spread in which Roger Rogers is introduced—it looks like a great deal of time and care went into the illustration. But for the most part, Mann’s line art looks incredibly rushed, so poorly drawn as to be practically unprofessional. Along those same lines, I counted three typographical errors in the first ten pages alone, which soundly illustrated to me the quality of this piece of work.


Again, it would be easy to dismiss these criticisms by saying that it is "only a kids’ book." But just because the audience for a book is juvenile doesn’t mean that the authors shouldn’t aspire to create the best book for children they can, and unfortunately this book falls very short of that mark. With such great comics for kids as Owly or The Clouds Above available, why anyone, parent or child, would be drawn toward such forgettable fare as The Weirdly World of Strange Eggs is beyond me. | Steve Higgins

Check out a 9-page preview of The Weirdly World of Strange Eggs at writer Chris Reilly’s ComicSpage page!

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