Clarence: Chicken Phantom
Writer: Derek Fridolfs
Artists: J.J. Harrison, Cara McGee with Matt Smigel
Colourist: Joie Brown
Letterer: Warren Montgomery
Editor: Shannon Watters
A review by Amelia Wellman
Believe it or not, kid’s comics are some of the best comics being produced. Some hugely talented people work on them and inclusive smaller companies publish them. They’re bright, colourful, cute, funny, and just plain endearing. And Clarence: Chicken Phantom is all of the above!
Writer Fridolfs and artist Harrison have brought all the fun from the Cartoon Network animated series to the first-ever Clarence original graphic novel. Chicken Phantom is a fully contained adventure with the titular character Clarence and his friends Jeff and Sumo away at Rough Rider Regiment Camp, a camp centred on outdoor survival activities and chicken! Joviality ensues with regular camp activities: setting up tents, river rafting, and spooky campfire stories, one of which involves a spectral chicken that may or may not be tied to a buried treasure.
What’s so compelling about Chicken Phantom are the adorable characters: these are kids that we all knew in our own childhood. There’s Jeff the overachiever, Sumo the trouble maker, and Clarence the good-natured, optimistic kid who just wants to have fun! Watching their childhood adventures play out, all the while having a subtle lesson of how everyone is good at different things, is a breath of fresh air. Plus, Clarence has a lisp and all his ‘Rs’ get replaced by ‘Ws’. Tots adorable guys.
The biggest problem to just jumping into Chicken Phantom is that the story is unfortunately a bit muddled. I wasn’t entirely sure why the story needed the phantom chicken to actually be real since it’s never used to drive the plot forward. Perhaps it’s something more prominent in the television series, but it played a meaningless role in the graphic novel.
The art of Chicken Phantom is everything. It is just so adorable! It has a doodle-like quality with bright colours and so little realism that one of the main character’s head is cube shaped. There are no fine details, everything is shown in solid blocks of one colour, and it’s super simplistic, often showing action and movement with lines and puffs of dirt, but it works for the Clarence brand.
Buy it! This is a children’s comic but it’s a good time for any age! It’s cute, funny, light-hearted and this original graphic novel reads just like an episode of Clarence. Even if you’re not a fan of the show, check out this original graphic novel Clarence: Chicken Phantom!