Bradley, the dog, has been abducted by aliens! Luckily, Bradley’s human companion, Raf, has just invented a dog-to-human translator, which comes in handy as Raf and Megan seek to rescue Bradley. This is the fifth volume in the “Chicagoland Detective Agency” series, and as such, Robbins wastes no time introducing the three primary characters in the series. Bradley, the dog, is uniquely intelligent and capable of speaking in human English, a skill that comes in handy as the team solves each graphic novel’s mystery. The series is illustrated in an accessible, readable style and the storyline is engaging and fast-paced. Robbins is a giant in the comics community and she contributes to the growing cornucopia of great children’s graphic novels. Although the series may not be an essential addition for every library, in libraries serving kids who like dogs and mysteries, this will be a nice selection for a well-rounded graphic novel section. Reviewer: Raina Sedore; Ages 7 to 12.
There are hundreds of stories about talking dogs, but if this graphic novel is any indication, every book would be better with a dog in it. The math is simple: A Google search for "dog" brings up 1,430,000,000 results. So Raf's newest invention ought to be an instant success. It's a dog-to-human translator. The only problem is, dogs don't have much to say. Even Raf's (mad-scientist–engineered) canine friend Bradley, who happens to speak English, says: "…much as I love my Earth doggie buddies, I gotta admit that, unlike me…they're kinda dim bulbs…." The storyline is busy, even for a Chicagoland Detective Agency comic. There's a missing princess, a dog show, a mad scientist and a saucer full of dogs from the planet Fnarf III. The alien dogs get the best lines, by way of Raf's iDog2 translator, including: "Human person, can you throw the flying saucer of playing fetch?" The art looks a bit more rushed than in previous volumes, but this is still one of the most inventive stories in a consistently innovative series. And even human beings will sympathize when the Fnarfian Princess Zu-La says, "Earth people are nice enough, but not very smart…none of them understands me." "Relax and enjoy," counsels Bradley. "It's like a carnival ride." (Graphic mystery. 8-12)
Writer and feminist herstorian Trina Robbins has been writing books, comics, and graphic novels for over 30 years. Her most recent books are The Brinkley Girls (Fantagraphics) and Forbidden City: the Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs (Hampton Press). Her newest graphic novel is the three-part YA series Chicagoland Detective Agency for Graphic Universe. She lives in San Franscico with her partner, comics artist Steve Leialoha. Eisner Award-nominated illustrator and webcomic artist Tyler Page has self-published four graphic novels, including Nothing Better, recipient of the Xeric Foundation Grant. He is also the director of print technology at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He lives with his wife, artist Cori Doerrfeld, daughter Charlotte, and two crazy cats in Minneapolis, MN.