- Posted by Johanna on August 20, 2012 at 8:24 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: written by Colleen AF Venable; art by Stephanie Yue
- PUBLISHER: Graphic Universe; $6.95 US
I’m enjoying the Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye series so much that the books have joined my permanent collection. (Not an easy hurdle to pass, given that space is at a premium right now.) They have a lot of re-read value, and they always pick up my mood with their humor and animal antics.
I’ve previously covered the first three books in the series:
Now I’m catching up on the two most recent. Fish You Were Here came out last summer, while Raining Cats and Detectives is new this month.
Fish You Were Here begins with the very confused pet shop owner, Mr. Venezi, trying to hire an assistant. Amongst his missteps, he somehow manages to hire Viola, who seems like the perfect choice. She actually knows what all the animals want most. Unfortunately, that makes Mr. V feel unwanted, so tension arises.
The character interaction is what makes this series so charming. Sasspants, the guinea pig, walks the line between suspicious and insightful in her observations — that’s what makes her the great detective. Hamisher’s more ebullient passion for art and imagination provides lots of funny lines and silly ideas that are quite entertaining. The fish are nearly mindless in their groupthink but good-hearted, even if they can’t even remember their own names. It’s all drawn with plenty of expression while keeping the fuzzy creatures cute. Oh, and the fish are cute, too.
In their quest to find Mr. V, the detective duo leaves the pet shop, showing off some of their clever inventions and also visiting with the mice neighbors. It all works out ok, with Viola learning to balance work ethic and watching TV on her laptop, once the pets teach her a lesson, and Mr. V learns that everyone’s needed to be part of the big store family.
This is so much a world I want to be part of, from the wide-ranging friendships and cozy community of the animals to the charming neighborhood shops. The opening page of Fish You Were Here shows a diverse group of applicants hanging outside the pet shop, in a row with a bookstore and a bakery and ice cream store. What a lovely area to envision!
Raining Cats and Detectives tackles the difficult question of what happens when some of the pets are bought and have to leave the store. We also meet Tummytickles, the sleepy bookstore cat. The owner, Charlotte, and her niece, Bree, visit as well.
The gags fly fast and furious, with all kinds of creative combinations surprising me. Hamisher’s trying to make case files for their new detective office, and his portraits are great. Then comes a new owner for Sasspants, a real-life detective. The other animals try to cope with her absence, while she meets the other inhabitants of her new home — including some really smart fish! It’s silly fun how the other animals think that you become a detective when you put on the right hat. Makes for some charming visuals, though, with even the fish in fedoras. The overall problem, of not wanting any of the animals to actually leave, is even solved in a clever way.