‘Rocket Robinson and the Pharaoh’s Fortune:’ Advance Trade Paperback Review

Son of an American diplomat, Ronald "Rocket" Robinson had more luggage stickers from around the world on his worn suitcase then his 12 years alive. The year was 1933, and the train Rocket and his dad were on was bound for Cairo. After finding a note written in hieroglyphs, Rocket finds himself being pursued by Otto von Stürm and his two henchmen as part of a covert plan to find an ancient Egyptian treasure buried for over four millennia in the Great Pyramid. Fortunately, our young hero is not alone; his pet monkey Screech and his newfound friend, Nuri (a homeless gypsy with access to the city’s tunnels), are by his side as he seeks to solve a series of puzzles.

Rocket Robinson and the Pharaoh’s Fortune was previously published by BoilerRoom Studios in 2013 and was named one of the Best Books of the Year by GeekDad.com. This week, Dark Horse Books will release a reprint of writer/illustrator Sean O’Neill's trade paperback which was his first novel in a planned, on-going Rocket Robinson series. Targeting an 8–12 age range, O’Neill packs his period story with several historical elements to lend a sense of validity to Rocket’s story: the Cairo Museum, the central market, the city cemetery, the Westcar Papyrus, Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, the Rosetta Stone, a curse, and many others. The tone does not speak down to its young readers; instead, O’Neill writes a well-structured, suspenseful tale that will keep pre-teens engaged and interested in reading this 250-page novel. Rocket and Nuri are likeable characters and not over-burdened with flaws that might otherwise be too complex for the intended audience. Rocket’s pet monkey Screech provides comic relief. Khan, Khalil, and Otto as the villainous team are sufficiently menacing; however, it is worth mentioning that there are some themes that may need to be mediated by an adult (i.e., The death of a parent and a kidnapping of a child might be scary for the younger spectrum of the target age group).

O’Neill’s illustrations are reminiscent of Hergé’s Tintin series and Edgar P. Jacobs’ Black and Mortimer series, both which utilize the artistic style known as ligne claire which is where the artist uses consistent, clean lines of the same width throughout. There is also very little contrast, so that the art looks flat. O’Neill actually updates the style with varying line widths and a light touch of shading but remains respectful of the earlier styles. As a result, the visuals are delightful, nostalgic, and convey a certain innocence and charm that is timeless.

Dark Horse Books will be releasing the sequel, Rocket Robinson and the Secret of the Saint, later this autumn. Nuri and Screech will be back, and, this time, Rocket’s adventure will  be set in Paris. If the first story is any indication, the follow-up tale will be just as charming and fun as the first.

Rocket Robinson and the Pharaoh’s Fortune is a must have for fans of Hergé, Jacobs, and the ligne claire visual art form. O’Neill draws upon these two comic giants and re-appropriates the best aspects of both into a brand new series that will become a favorite for a new generation, as well as set a standard for pre-teen historical/adventure graphic novels.


Creative Team: Sean O’Neill (writer/illustrator), Shantel LaRocque (collection editor), Katii O’Brien and Brett Israel (collection assistant editors), Cindy Cacerez-Sprague (collection designer), Christina McKenzie (digital art technician)
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Check out a book trailer here.
Click here to purchase.

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