"It was the kind of rough-and-tumble dive where the coffee is strong and the waitresses are stronger. The kind of place where a bug could find trouble if he was looking.... And I'm always looking."
Hard-boiled private eye JOEY FLY will work for crumbs. Bread crumbs, that is.
That's because he's not your average private eye -- he really is a fly. In fact, he's the best private investigator in Bug City, a town full of insects... and secrets.
So far he's appeared in two rather cartoonish graphic novels definitely aimed at kids. The first, Creepy Crawly Crime (2009) was okay, even if the mystery itself was a bit of a snooze (a missing pencil case? Really?) but the second case, The Big Hairy Drama (2010) is actually a pretty clever little mystery with a clever little solution, when Joey's hired to track down the butterfly lead actress who's gone missing right before opening night.
Of course in both books, justice prevails and Joey triumphs, despite the bumbling assistant of his partner, Sammy Stingtail, a none-too-swift scorpion, and both books are full of atrocious puns, strained similes that would make Chandler blush (turns out Joey's a real wisenheimer), pratfalls, spit takes and the like, plus enough shout-outs to noir and hard-boiled conventions (Joey even offers first person narration) to beg the question: how many kids are getting the references?
Beats me, but the clean, simple artwork, the groan-inducing humour, the wacky cast of characters in a town where everyone is an insect of some kind and the clever but not too clever fair-play mysteries ought to appeal to younger readers (say, 7-10), even if many of the in-jokes about crime and detective fiction fly (sorry) right over their heads.
And who knows? It may get them interested in more grown up stuff further down the road.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.