Written by Kevin O'Malley
Illustrated and Book Design by Patrick O'Brien
Published by Walker Publishing Company, Inc.
I've never been this impressed by a Children's Illustrated Novel, nor a Comic, nor a Production book. Think of an adventurer, then put that pulp hero in space, then turn them into a dinosaur. Yeah, that's what we're talking about this week. Dinosaurs from a far away planet and their heroic pulp hero as he rockets through space to defend the galaxy and the planet he calls home. This is my type of story, it's straight forward, it has the hero into a position that let's him seem infallible, though solve problems that are out of his hand (talons). It's a great endeavor that's fun to see well paced, crammed into thirty two pages of nebula soaring adventures.
Though let's start with the cover. The title is what captured me first, since it reminded me of my childhood love Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys which was an amazing animated series n 1996. Though in general an amazing cover. The combination of dinosaurs and space is something that's close to my heart. It's the drawing skill and the illustrators direction to make it look and feel like it's an epic adventure in the world of Captain Raptor. The title text brings your eyes up and the sun setting brings your eyes back down. It's interesting that they only have these warm colors that grab your eyes and make you read about the creators and the characters. A professional cover that gives many a run for their money and tells a summary of the story within one panel.
Back to the front, the text reminds me of the Indiana Jones title, though I think that's intentional, since this is something also seen on the cover of Hollow Earth Expedition (A keen RPG, never played, but I intend to in the future). This really brings in the person off the street, since it's the titular character with a subtitle that changes the plot per book. There's not much to say after that since this is an example of what to do to make a perfect cover. This is unexpected from a Children's Illustrated Novel and something that's demographic might not appreciate till they're much older, if at all. Still it's an amazing piece that shoots off the first book in the series well and strides into the fast lane as being the best illustrated children's novel I've seen in 2005. Then the back of the book has a pin-up of (assuming) Captain Raptor looking up at the sky seeing planets and the world around him, looking stoic and contemplating the universe or his adventures, past or present.
Thumbing through to the first page, it's a landscape, though I guess since it's a picture of space it's not really land, but it's a background, a negative space display of the stars sitting and entertaining the idea that this story could be possible. Then the title page appears, beautifully composed! "Captain Raptor" written with 60 plus font and the subtitle of "and the Moon Mystery" in a smaller font, bringing down one's eyes to the rocket of the titular character (the Megatooth, awesome name for a rocket ship). The next page gives us the setting of the series, Jurassica, also the plot is that on the dark side of the moon (Eon) there was an assumed threat to the planet. Like any planet they thought the worst was about to fall upon them, assume from the somewhat advanced civilization there's been many advances in their life time, also their capital city seems to be semi-aquatic.
Tea Steeping, Professor Steeping, and Gom are all dinosaurs (sorta).
The following page we get to see our titular character CAPTAIN RAPTOR, adventurer for the planet Jurassica! The page just screams this rank at the top of it's lungs (if paper had lungs or a mouth or was anthropomorphic like the dinosaurs on it's face). Anyhow we see his ship, the MEGATOOTH, okay it doesn't scream it there, but it's still an awe-inspiring panel, then we get to see it in action, zooming out into the inky darkness that is space. And a little meet and greet of the crew, it's cute and really shows just how far they came along in technology and it gives a better idea of all of the character's designs in an informative way, which wastes a bit of time so we can get to Eon.
"Ka-Boom"! The Megatooth is struck by a bolt of lightning as they enter Eon's atmosphere. The Megatooth collects damage and plummets into the sea below. It's awesome to see that they have that lurking horror, the Octocolossus. As it grapples with the Megatooth, the science officer finds a way to connect Captain Raptor's plans to get them free, then they see a part that may have flown from the ship. They surface to the beach of Eon and scout the general area of the unknown, looking for the menace that came to Eon, their mission at hand. The crew penetrate the wilderness and the mystery of the attackers of Jurassica, then deal with the mystique of the enemy at hand. I don't want to give away anymore, though this is a threat that both forces never thought they'd encounter. It's an interesting ending that involves a JETPACK, yeah I think there's a theme this month, not intended, though it's something that I find to be a choice addition to any piece of fiction or reality.
In short if you like the Flash Gordon, Adam Strange, John Carter of Mars, or any series like these you might love this Children's Illustrated Novel serial. It has everything that a classic space pulp piece of speculative fiction could hope to embrace. There's another story to come, and more adventures of the crew on the Megatooth!
I trust you enjoyed the inspection, thank you for reading.
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