One of the humour comic strips in the weekly DFC comic in 2008 and 2009, Monkey Nuts Book 1: The Diamond Egg Of Wonders written by Robin Etherington and illustrated by brother Lorenzo Etherington, was originally released as a DFC Library hardback book in 2010 and is now being re-released as a softcover.
In an attempt to find the lost Diamond Egg Of Wonders, Lord Terra (also known as Eric), activates the Sonic Monster Magnet in his secret base (also known as Tabitha) under Chump Town on Isla De Monstera in the Bermuda Triangle. This makes villains and monsters converge on the island in an attempt to destroy an unknown robot and chimpanzee who Terra believes will try to stop him getting the Egg. When the city’s police headquarters is destroyed Police Chief Tuft deputises Rivet the robot and Sid the chimp, who had never met until then, to become Monkey Nuts, the defenders of the island. Rivet and Sid take on everyone and everything from the magician The Amazing Amazing, via the aquatic Derek, The Denizen Of The Deep, to Muckybutt Temple, the walking pyramid, as they try their best to defend their home from these increasingly bizarre threats before discovering that they really need to find the Egg themselves. The story builds to a climax as Sid and Rivet journey through the island’s warp holes to discover just exactly what the ‘Diamond Egg Of Wonders’ actually is.
A chimpanzee whose main goal in life is to eat more bananas, a coffee making robot (think C-3PO crossed with Red Dwarf’s Kryten) and a sentient coconut husk, Sid, Rivet and Chief Tuft are as unlikely a crime fighting trio as you are going to come across. As brothers, Robin and Lorenzo Etherington are closer to being on the same wavelength than the vast majority of writer and artist comic teams and between them they have come up with a startling imaginative range of baddies for their mismatched team to combat.
Monkey Nuts does betray its weekly DFC comic origins more obviously that the brothers’ other DFC Library title, Baggage, both in the mainly three page structure of the plot arc and the half page or larger splash panels used to introduce each week’s episode – yet this is not necessarily a bad thing. The desire by both brothers to cram as much into each and every page means that while the story could be too much to read in one go, the weekly structure introduces chapters where younger readers can take a breather, while those splash panels, with their wealth of background detail, could make older readers pause to appreciate the many in-jokes that are hidden there.
There is a manic energy in Monkey Nuts Book 1: The Diamond Egg Of Wonders, both in Robin’s writing and in Lorenzo’s artwork, an energy that often feels like the brothers turned their intensity dial up to 11 and left it there – and for a humour book that is a very good thing.
• The Etherington Brothers will be appearing at Stripped BookFest in Edinburgh on Saturday 23rd August 2013 at 2:00pm as part of the Baillie Gifford Children’s Programme. Tickets are available from the Edinburgh International Book Festival box office. Adults are allowed!
• There are more details of the Etherington Brothers’ work on their blog
• There are more details of Monkey Nuts, and the other DFC Library titles, on the Random House website
This review was first posted on the Stripped Book Fest blog and is re-posted here with full permission.