Rebecca’s Pick: The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
Straying a little from my usual picks I give you: The Bad Guys. Is it a children’s graphic novel? Yes. Are there fart jokes? Yes, lots. But, stick with me, this is a fun one that adults can enjoy – with or without kids!
Just because a snake likes to eat chickens every once in a while doesn’t mean he’s an inherently bad guy. But, that’s the reputation that Mr. Snake and his fellow posse of characters – a try-to-do-good wolf, a shark with a penchant for costumes, a piranha with IBS, and a more than tech savvy spider – are typecast as. But these oft-villains want to be the good guys for once, darn it!
I picked up The Bad Guys to get inspiration for an Escape Room, so I didn’t think it mattered which one in the series I read. However, after reading book 2 I had to go back and start from the first one because I was immediately hooked. 12 titles have been released so far, and there are more on the way (along with a movie by Dreamworks), but you really have to read these in order. The storyline progresses with each book and you’ll want to know the backstory.
The black and white artwork is simplistic, but so effective in conveying the character’s emotions! I’ve laughed out at some of the facial expressions alone. The way the wording is drawn sets the tone and adds just the right amount of emphasis or movement, depending on the situation.
The characters are diverse and loveable (wait until you meet the archenemy), and there’s a positive message about being true to yourself while not letting certain characteristics or stereotypes define you.
There’s definitely a silliness to The Bad Guys that reminds me of the Wayside School series, and it’s combined with clever humor and references that adults will appreciate. The story and characters gave me Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox vibes, too. Wolf sounds like George Clooney and you can’t convince me otherwise.
The reading age for this series is 7 – 10 years, but my 13 year old niece is getting it for Christmas and I think she’ll love it. Especially the fart jokes.