Sunday, January 07, 2007

Banana Sunday #2

Banana Sunday #2, August 2005, Oni Press
writer: Root Nibot
artist: Colleen Coover

Yesterday I wrote a review inspired in part by Micky Dolenz of the Monkees in the play Pippin, and today I write a review about a comic book full of talking monkeys called Banana Sunday. If this doesn’t prove that I have some method to this year’s worth of madness, I don’t know what will.

So, yes, talking monkeys. Banana Sunday is about Kirby, the daughter of a presumably eclectic scientist that has given voice to three distinct monkeys: Knobby the chick-magnet spider monkey, Chuck the uber-intelligent orangutan, and Go-Go the goofy and absent-minded baby gorilla. Other characters include Nickels, a Chloe-from-Smallville-like pal determined to find out how the monkeys really got their voice (a mystery even to the reader, at least in this issue), and Martin, an awkward hipster that quickly wins Kirby’s heart. This issue introduces each of these personalities in a quick, visually appealing way: the first page is a six-panel spread, each image dedicated to each character’s dream prior to their morning alarm. In their dreams, Chuck wins a Nobel Prize, Nickels wins a Pulitzer, Knobby wins three harems, Martin fights Robin Hood in class in his underwear, and Go-Go rests atop a mount of bananas. Quick, clever shots of each major player’s quirks and/or personas. Kirby’s dream features the other five characters condemning her, an interesting take on the female adolescent paradigm we skimmed yesterday. At any rate, this page sucked me in and peaked my interest about the series as a whole.

Interestingly, for a comic book starring talking monkeys, the setting remains rather domestic, focusing on the chimps’ first day at school with Kirby, and the relationships that abound from a trio of talking monkeys. Writer Root Nibot infuses a fair amount of action into their academic backdrop, as Knobby learns a bit about competitive sportsmanship over a game of dodgeball, and as Go-Go’s invulnerability saves him from an oncoming diesel truck. Chasing butterflies into the road presents that kind of danger. Finally, in the end, we perceive a bit of suspense when Go-Go pursues the jealous, popular girl that berates Kirby. Kirby storms off to find her runaway gorilla, worriedly proclaiming, “He’ll kill her!” That’s one dangerous monkey!

Artist Colleen Coover gives Nibot’s script some dynamic perspective, with bold ink work and expressive animation. (The ad for Oni’s Little Star in the back of this issue reminded me that Coover’s style looked a lot like Andi Watson’s, and that’s a compliment.) I can’t help but think of My Monkey’s Name is Jennifer, another comic book about a girl with a monkey, but contrastingly, her adventures are much more fantastic, at least based on what I’ve read. The issue of Jennifer that I have parades Jennifer and his human caretaker aboard a pirate ship – a far cry from high school, but apparently just as treacherous. For my tastes, the relatable atmosphere and ongoing intrigue makes Banana Sunday a more enjoyable read. Plenty of us felt like we had proverbial monkeys on our back in high school; it’s nice to read about a girl that really does.

So, if Micky Dolenz had read this issue, he might dub it a pleasant valley Banana Sunday. And I would concur. Then someone would punch us both in the face for making such a terrible pub. And I would concur with that, too.

Tomorrow, I hope to rattle off our second quarterly report. Don’t hold me to it.

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