Hopper! Detective of the Strange – ‘The Case of the Bank Robbing Mummies’ –Rob Barnes, Fair Spark Books
Fair Spark Books create comics aimed at younger readers, and Hopper! Detective of the Strange is a good example of their work. Who is Hopper? Well with a name like that it should maybe come as no surprise that Hopper is a rabbit. But not just any rabbit, a rabbit detective. With his mac and his fedora he could come straight from a Raymond Carver story. Yes, a hard boiled bunny.
Hopper’s adventures are set in the 1940’s and see the lead-spitting lapin (okay he doesn’t actually fire a gun but it I liked the alliteration) investigate the realm of the supernatural and mysterious. Hopper is a skeptic who sets out to debunk superstitious hoaxes, but finds that the truth is yet more mysterious.
The world of Hopper is one of anthropomorphic animals. Luckily the foxes don’t seem to want to eat the rabbits, so it’s all good. In this tale ‘The Case of the Bank Robbing Mummies’ we visit the classic pulp obsession with Egyptology. Tomb raiders and pharaohs curses have fed adventure stories for decades from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Lara Croft. In case you’re wondering, yes the mummies are animals too.
This all points to the supernatural but the motive is very much human. Things that go bump in the night rarely need to balance a cheque book.Hopper! Detective of the Strange
The art style is suitably cartoonish, with the personality of characters like Hopper and Donny captured well in the facial expressions. The action scenes stand out, with a change in perspective and panel shape which effectively convey a dynamic feel.
Shuffling animated mummies chasing animals around is also familiar cartoon material and fans of Scooby Doo will get a kick out of Hopper. The detective chases down leads and introduces us to his cast of supporting characters. Most amusing is Donny, his informer – a candy-guzzling cheetah whose speed seems to rely on that nice white powder, yes of course we mean sugar.
Ultimately our carrot-cake chomping cottontail puts the clues together, and the kids reading can have fun working it out for themselves. But in the end there are still some unanswered questions and a mysterious nemesis makes their entrance.
Hopper is a fun tale that younger kids should enjoy. It might even benefit from a bit more in the way of 40’s private eye jargon, I’m thinking of Calvin and Hobbes when Calvin becomes his detective character Tracer Bullet. Turning everything up to eleven is usually a good idea when it comes to kids comics and I hope to see even more puns, jokes and craziness in future episodes.
Rob Barnes is an illustrator/ comics creator, writer/artist. He was born and still lives in the geographic center of the US, in Missouri. His other creations include Gallant and Amos.
You can buy Hopper and other comics at Fair Spark Books
Fair Spark supports the work of Little Heroes Comics. Little Heroes Comics is a UK based charity that provides comic making kits to children in hospitals and other healthcare organisations across the UK.