Gon, Book I of IV (1996)
“Gon Eats and Sleeps.”
“Gon Goes Flying.”
By Masashi Tanaka
Cover Price: $5.95
Another interesting book for vacation week. Was looking for some unique books for this week, and realized I’ve had this volume of Gon on the bookshelf for well over a decade, and just never got around to it.
This also gives us the opportunity to take a look at an offering from DC’s Paradox Press!
If you wanna know more about this imprint, definitely have a listen to this episode of Weird Comics History wherein Reggie and I break down both Paradox and its predecessor, Piranha Press!
Worth noting before we begin, these are wordless stories… so, the art’s gonna be carrying the load here. Good thing it’s freaking amazing.
Our first story opens with a pair of bears fishing for… I’m going to assume, salmon. The bigger bear acts quite the bully to the little one when it sees that he’s caught a fish… and scares the little one into dropping it back into the drink. The big bear then proceeds to yank a bunch of fish outta the stream… but this sorta behavior ain’t gonna fly on Gon’s watch.
Gon and the giant bear do battle for several pages, with the tiny dinosaur winding up with the upper hand. I mean, just look at what he can do!
The bear attempts to regain the offense, however finds that he isn’t sure he wants to know if Gon’s bite is as bad as his bark (or headbutt).
The bear passes out, and Gon heads over to the stash of salmon. If you thought he might give some of the fish to that little bear from before… well, you’d be wrong. Gon’s just as big a jerk as the giant bear… only he doesn’t even put in the effort of actually catching any fish!
Gon then adds insult to injury by… sleeping on the bears chest. It looks like he does that thing that dogs do, when they spin around a few times on blankets to make a suitable “nest”. It’s really adorable, I gotta say.
The bear starts to struggle… however with but a single look into Gon’s eyes… he decides to leave well enough alone.
Our second story has Gon impersonating a baby bird in order to get a free meal of fresh fish. This little guy doesn’t quit!
As he, and the rest of the baby birds, chow down… a wildcat approaches the nest, with a different sort of meal on its mind. The Mama Bird makes short work of the would-be predator, knocking it off the cliff side.
Then, Gon and the chicks take a nap… during which time, the nest-hogging little dinosaur boots one of the babies outta bed…
… and right into the waiting mouth of that wildcat! Mama Bird then yanks Gon out of the nest… and throws him right at the predator.
Gon bites the cat’s tail clean off! And, ya know… saves the baby bird.
Later, after sharing a massive fish feast, Mama Bird starts teaching all of the babies how to fly… including Gon! Turns out he ain’t half bad!
|Lookit him flapping his “wings”!|
Time passes, and the mean old tail-less wildcat returns… and tries to eat the Mama Bird. Luckily, Gon and his “brothers” have returned… and make quite a mess out of the kitty.
They spend the next several pages beating the holy hell out of the cat… before Gon drops an entire forest onto it!
Our third and final story opens with a wild dog bringing some fish to its pups. The little buggers are still hungry after this, so the big dog decides to go a’hunting.
It first decides perhaps a juicy koala might make for a nice snack. Unfortunately for the dog… the koalas are currently entertaining a guest.
The dog barks up the (wrong) tree… and the koalas proceed to dive bomb the poor beast… including their guest, Gon!
The pup runs away… until it happens across a delicious kangaroo. Unfortunately for the doggie… well, you know.
The dog isn’t scared… though it probably should be. It goes in for the kill… and gets pouch-kicked for its trouble. I mean, you gotta see this.
Gon then hops out of the pouch… and becomes like this rat-king of porcupines. Together they do this Sonic-spin dash… and bowl over the poor pup.
Then… the ostriches get involved! I mean, at what point do we just let this poor dog be?!
Then the gators! Or, maybe they’re crocodiles, I couldn’t tell ’em apart if one bit my arm off.
Finally, the entire forest has surrounded this poor… hungry wild dog… that just wanted nothing more than to feed its pups. Gon’s a vindictive little so-and-so, ain’t he?
We wrap up with Gon giving the pups a giant fish…
… which they ultimately turn their noses up at… and walk away into the, um, Outback probably?
I mean, c’mon… what’s not to love here? It’s an adorable baby dinosaur just taking care of business left and right.
Had an absolute blast with this… it really was an unexpected treat. After a few pages, I hardly even realized that there were no words. Tanaka’s art… man, you could just get lost in it. Such amazing detail… and somehow, he makes Gon… a dinosaur… not look out of place among the rest of the wildlife. Gon actually looks like he belongs!
The first and second stories were wonderful… I wasn’t entirely sold on the third. That third one just comes across as… I dunno, mean? I mean, sure… Gon’s not gonna want these wild dogs to eat any of his friends… but, why not just open by offering them that giant fish? I don’t think we needed to see the poor pup get its butt-kicked by the entire animal kingdom first!
Maybe Gon’s just kind of a jerk. We see in that first story… he didn’t attack the giant bear to teach it a lesson in bullying… Gon just wanted some’a (all’a!) that fish! Kind of a jerk move there, little buddy!
I think the middle story was probably my favorite… it was just so damn cute. Aside from, ya know… dismembering and murdering the wildcat, that is. Just seeing Gon hanging out with the baby birds… that’s one of those things you look at, and five minutes later you’re still smiling… and haven’t the foggiest idea why.
Overall… really can’t recommend this one enough. If the manga aesthetic isn’t an immediate turn-off (because I know, for some, it is), I think you can have a lot of fun with this.