As any halfway-astute observer of the American comics industry is aware, the market doesn’t begin and end with superheroes. Batman and Spider-Man will likely always have a place in the hearts (and on the bookshelves) of sequential-art fans, but manga, literary graphic novels and comics for young readers all flesh out the full picture of who is buying and reading funny books. Middle-grade comics in particularly—those aimed at readers in the eight-to-12 age range—have carved out an increasingly huge slice of the pie chart, with series like Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man handily outselling most monthly comics.
Today, Paste is thrilled to help reveal a new entry in the kids’ comic market: InvestiGators by John Patrick Green. Green is the cartoonist behind Hippopatomister and Kitten Construction Company, as well the co-creator of Teen Boat. InvestiGators hits shelves March 31st, 2020, from publisher First Second, and Paste readers can check out the cover, synopsis and a gator-rific personal statement from Green below.
Writer/Artist: John Patrick Green
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Meet the InvestiGators. With their gadgets, know-how, and super-fast transportation system (they flush themselves down toilets to speed through the sewers!) Mango and Brash are the scourge of the super villain landscape! As vest-wearing employees of the Special Undercover Investigation Teams, they solve all kinds of mysteries and frequently butt heads with their arch-nemesis: a former agent known as Crackerdile.
Riddled with puns, potty humor, absurdism, and hilarious twists, InvestiGators is the perfect series for Dog Man fans looking for their next great read! It’s kid-friendly comics at their best.
Of all the comics I’ve created in my professional career, making InvestiGators has come closest to recapturing that feeling of being 11 years old, drawing comics in my bedroom, with the sole intention of making my friends and classmates laugh. It’s probably the funniest and most “me” work I’ve done since then.
That probably sounds more profound than it should for a series about alligators who solve crimes with high-tech vests, as well as features a brain surgeon who can transform into a helicopter. I’m not saying this comic tells my story, but I’ve had so much enthusiasm during the writing and art processes for this that I think there’s a lot of myself on display in it. At the very least, you’ll get an idea of the kinds of puns I like.
As for what readers can expect, I’m not sure what to say without giving things away! Hopefully they’ll find some laughs. Some surprises. Twists and turns. Be thrown for a loop. Some clever wordplay. It’s completely absurd, but I think the characters are endearing and have a lot of personality, such that readers will get caught up in the wild hijinks to see how it all turns out. And of course the occasional toilet joke.
With the cover, I’m hoping that it gets across a little bit of everything the series has to offer. It’s got vests with gadgets. It’s got a goofy gator (Mango, the blue-green one) and a somewhat more serious gator (Brash, the yellow-green one.) And it demonstrates these alligators’ complete disregard for brick walls. It’s really a metaphor for what I think good comics for kids can accomplish.