Dinopopolous, presented in “glorious black and white”, is, as anything called Dinopopolous should be, totally awesome. Dinosaurs. Tick. Hero called Nigel. Tick. Hidden treasure. Tick. Evil lizards with Ziggy Stardust stripes across their faces. Tick. High quality onomatopoeia. Tick. Wump! Zam! Donk!
For those of you the same age, or slightly older, than me, the days when Whizzer and Chips, Topper, and The Beezer joined The Dandy and The Beano on the shelves of the newsagent are ones you may look back on with a tear-moistened eye. When they went out of production a little bit of Britain’s soul went with them. People say that it was computer games what done it, but I have my doubts. The Dandy survived and the Dandy was always shite. That survived. And that relies on the fact that Desperate Dan is strong to amuse generation after generation of children.
It is one of the great ironies of literature that Desperate Dan is such a weak comic strip. Yes. One of the great ironies. That whole Max Brod not burning Kafka’s work thing? Pah! Wump! Zam! Donk!
Dinopopolous perfectly captures the anarchism of those great, lost comics but also adds a healthy addition of added additions. The drawings are saturated with joy (for those of you who cannot remember GCSE science, I mean saturated in the sense that no more joy could be put into them. Remember? You do it with sugar and warm water? See how much you can stir in before it starts forming a solid at the bottom? Yes? No? But you know what I mean? OK.) The drawings are full of tiny details that pay repeated readings, and that is perfect because that is what you do with comics. You re-read them. On wet Sunday afternoons. With orange squash and biscuits.
In one section of the comic, Nigel walks into an impossible dimension, falling out of the panels of the comic and into a blank space populated with strange machines, bugs with symmetrical legs and transparent bird men with visible brains floating in their big round heads. Wump! Zam! Donk!
Dinopopolous is also funny, and clever, and not really for eight-year-olds at all. It is for the eight-year-old inside us. The one who still looks at a tree with a low-ish branch and thinks about climbing it. The one who still, occasionally, buys a Kinder Egg. The one that knows, deep down, that girls all smell, and are stupid, and don’t understand about dinosaurs.
Any Cop?: Wump! Zam! Donk! Brilliant.