I missed the first Gon book when it came out, and when I started looking for it a couple weeks later, I couldn’t find it at the first few places I tried. I was afraid they might be all gon. {ahem}

Finally, I found one, and I’m glad I did. Gon is a series that’s wildly popular in Japan, about a tiny dinosaur that (inexplicably) lives in the modern day, showing up in diverse habitats throughout the world. He’s cute, but he’s no saccharine, singing, purple abomination. Quite the opposite: he’s vicious and often mean, the stories are entirely word-free (which makes translation rather easy), and the art is painstakingly and effectively done in black and white. These volumes from Paradox Press collect reprints of stories by Masashi Tanaka, originally published in Japan.

The first installment features three stories: “Gon Eats and Sleeps” (featuring his encounter with a Grizzly Bear several times his size), “Gon Goes Flying” (in which he shares a nest with a brood of eagle chicks… and joins them as they learn to fly), and “Gon Glares” (chronicling his application of justice in the Australian outback). The subsequent volumes are similar, each placing Gon in a different setting, with a variety of modern animals to interact with.

 The art is beautiful, inked with detail that would do Martin Hepcats Wagner proud. The stories range from hilarious to poignant, with forays into charming. And I suspect I may never see a sight more amusingly absurd as a dwarf dinosaur, grim-facedly flapping its vestigial forelegs to fly. The books are a bit pricey ($5.95-$6.95) but that gets you 100-150 digest-sized pages (or in one case, 48 larger, color pages), and I got more out-loud laughs from one Gon books than from any $6 or $7 movie I’ve seen lately.

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