Written and art by Mathew New. Published by Capstone Editions.
Billy Johnson And His Duck Are Explorers is a fun new graphic novel by cartoonist Mathew New and published by Capstone Editions. New’s debut is a fun romp that collects four treasure-hunting adventures that are perfect for fans young and old.
And that fun begins immediately with the opening sequence. Framed with a song, It introduces the heroes to readers and there’s a sense of who they are from the get-go. Billy is a wannabe explorer, over-confident and wanting to make a name for himself. Barrace is a talking duck, who happens to also be a college professor and Billy’s voice of reason. Together they travel the world looking for treasure while avoiding peril with every turn.
New has tried to make each issue as distinct as possible. Each issue is a self-contained adventure, filled with their unique locations (jungles, ruins, desert, caves and more), obstacles, and perils. These are introduced at a steady pace and never dwell too long on any given thing, which means there’s always something new for the reader. At the same time, there’s a much larger plot that brews in the background opening up the potential for more stories in the future.
New’s art is visually engaging, with lush environments and expressive characters, while still adhering to his stylist rules. His linework has a consistent thickness to it, which allows him to ad important detail but not get bogged down in the nitty-gritty. Instead, his vivid colours are used to create some of that shorthand and give the environments an additional sense of wonder.
Billy Johnson And His Duck Are Explorers shows that New has a strong sense of storytelling too. There are many scenes in which do not require dialogue, instead of telling the story through movement with a ‘show, not tell’ approach. This ranges from a character breaking into a castle to steal a priceless artefact to seeing what Barrace gets up to in his day-to-day life. It’s a refreshing take, as sometimes all-ages comics like to explain what characters are doing when it’s not always necessary.
But it’s not all adventure and danger. In the downtime, Billy and is waterfowl pal have moments of vulnerability when they talk about how they feel. Billy and Barrace can discuss their frustrations in a very grown-up way and it’s a good example to set for young readers.
All in all, the Billy Johnson And His Duck Are Explorers is an incredibly fun read. Packed with a strong sense of adventure, character depth, and bright art, kids and adults will equally love this graphic novel. If you pick up this book then you’ll have certainly found a treasure worth holding onto.
For more comics and graphic novels suited to readers young and old, browse our all-ages section.