Dr. Ong has spent his life studying and becoming a renowned scientist, like his father to escape his little town in the Californian valley. Unlike his father, turned pastor, Ong believes exclusively in science. When he is recruited and assigned by the US government to a secret research facility on paranormal activities, back in his home town of Turlock, Dr Ong wonders which will kill him first, the boredom and the redneck attitude of the town’s population or the weird creatures roaming around.
TenNapel writes an innovative story that combines easy adult-like concerns with a whimsical attitude to storytelling. Although Dr Ong’s dilemma is huge, his emotions and those of the town’s folks flow naturally with but a few words and set up scenes. There’s no need for us to understand how Ong used to torment the now girl of his dream, when she was a child. The visuals tell us the back story and shares with us the emotion that both felt.
As for the official conflict of the story, that of the reincarnated Dr. Jameson trying to revive a giant space eel to rule the planet, this story is treated as a fun sequence of events with a few twists. It’s hard to pigeonhole this story. It will at once appeal to kids and also entertain adults. It’s a perfect read though and let’s hope that TenNapel, who is also the creator of EarthWorm Jim, returns to the universe and cast he has created for another story.
I like the dynamism of TenNapel’s work. One can feel the animated cartoon influence in his art. Of note is the close resemblance to the Charleroi comic book school of design, popularized by Belgian cartoonists. His characters are expressive while being inked with a heavy line that is closer to American styles. It’s a good mix and it’s perfect to capture the once serious and comical tone of this book.