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Bad Island

Bad Island Bad Island Bad Island

Bad Island back

Doug TenNapel


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

“I’m kind of worried. What are we supposed to do out here in the middle of nowhere?”
“Same as we always do for the kids... pretend like we know what we’re doing.”

Ha, the punchline to that particular parental to and fro is the dad then being completely and utterly unable to light a fire for his family and having to be rescued with a book of matches from mum, much to his chagrin. So, here we have a rather typical nuclear family of dad Lyle, mum Karen, teenage boy Reese and his younger sister Janie. By which I mean they’re only ever one careless word away from it all exploding! Ah, happy families...

Dad Lyle is convinced that what they really need is some quality family time together, it’s just he’s the only one who seems to think taking a boat trip is a good idea. One tropical storm later and our not-so-fantastic foursome find themselves washed up on a most peculiar island. How so? Well, I would say freakish monsters, zombies, skeletons, aliens, giant robots, plus a dash of magic would qualify as peculiar, wouldn’t you? It’s the sort of scenario you might concoct if you mashed about eight different episodes of Scooby Doo up together, and it’s certainly more than enough to keep our reluctant castaways in a permanent state of consternation.

Gradually, though, they start to put the pieces together of what on Earth, and from Outer Space, is happening. By the end they’ve discovered that essential quality for pulling together as a family: gritted teeth! No, sorry, I meant teamwork, of course! But before then are there more bizarre island-based escapades to endure than you’ll find in the entire five seasons of Lost before the vacation is over.

Ha, if any budding creators want to understand precisely how you can throw even the proverbial kitchen sink at a story and still pull it all together plot-wise, they could do a lot worse than study this. It’s the fraught family dynamics that really make this work shine though, particularly the relationship between Dad Lyle and young teenager Reese, who is desperate to show his father that he can be trusted and is well on the way to being a grown up. Dad Lyle, perhaps understandably, is so busy trying to make sure his family survives through to the end of each tropically terror packed day, that he’s unable to see how much his son needs his father to just let go a little bit, and trust him...

There’s a little musing for real life thrown in for good measure right there, plus given Doug TenNapel has four children himself, I suspect he knows more than a little about how combustible a pastime parenting can be, for all concerned. Another excellent all-ages read to add to the ever burgeoning kids corner of Page 45! We’re going to need to annex half the manga section soon for our cornucopia of teenagers and young reader material, I think!
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