Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Indie Pen-Dance Wednesday Part 1 - Our review of "Robotslayer" by Vince Kamp (Self Published)


Written and Illustrated by
Vince Kamp

Published by Vince Kamp

Comics and graphic novels for kids are once again rising up to defeat naysayers who still have a skewed view of their worth when it comes to engaging children with exciting stories. Comics are such a natural fit for children, visual storytelling is like nectar to kids who want to progress from picture books to something a little meatier.

We've previously featured Vince Kamp and "Robotslayer" on last week's indie-pen dance slot, to spotlight Vince's vision and creative processes and how he pushed the envelope for what self-published author illustrators usually do to engage readers with their work.

Creating a graphic novel (the first of many, we hope) called Robotslayer, Vince has put together an exciting and fast paced story that will excite and delight boys and girls in equal measure.

Life in Robotolis is idyllic at first...(all images © Vince Kamp)

We pick up the story as a genius professor called Professor Robotolis creates robots to assist and serve, and eventually to create a sprawling robot metropolis in his own name.

Working with his partner Dr Grububble, the professor's robots are amazing - stepping into jobs and roles that humans no longer want, and ensuring that people never want for anything, have acres of free time, and can enjoy life to the full.

Eventually Dr Grububble and Prof. Robotolis part company seemingly amicably. But during the annual "Robotfest" talent contest one year, Professor Robotolis' robots win again and again, while Dr Grububble's robots trail behind. This is the final straw for Dr Grububble. Accusing the Professor of cheating, things take a nasty turn and just as the police arrive to stop an assassination attempt, Dr Grububble is rescued by one of his own creations and goes into hiding.

A talent contest goes sour. Simon Cowell, be warned! (Images © Vince Kamp)

Soon afterwards, robot behaviour across the city becomes increasingly erratic. Robots start to malfunction, and soon turn to crime and vandalism. A virus seems responsible, but Professor Robotolis is powerless to prevent it spreading to every robot in the city bar one.

The Professor's young grandson Leo and his robot 'brother' Benny (the only robot unaffected by the virus) become the central characters in a fight to find out the source of the virus, and thwart the evil Dr Grububble's nefarious plans.

We won't give away too much of the plot, we really want you to read the story yourself - so you can find out what happens to the Professor, Benny and Leo.

We love that granny! (Images © Vince Kamp)

Vince's storytelling and artwork are fantastic, and putting the children (based on his own kids) front and centre in the plot is an extremely good move. Children can more readily identify with stories and heroes if they are fairly ordinary everyday kids themselves - and we've seen this again and again in the best loved children's stories that have consistently bagged awards and big sales.

Between the excitement and adventure, there are subtle shouts out to things we love. The value of teaching is described within the plot, versus the value of simply consuming information (or being programmed with it). We love the subtle thumbs up to groovy grandparents (Opa - Professor Robotolis is the sort of gadget-obsessed grandad we all wish we had!) and of course the relationship between Benny and Leo - looking out for each other and believing in each other when it comes to the crunch.

It's an inspirational graphic novel, beautifully produced and printed and available at a very reasonable price (£7.99 RRP) so if you're a parent who wants something brilliant as their child's first foray into comics, this is very much a fantastic place to start.

"Robotslayer" can be obtained from:


Waterstones in Dorking, Surrey

Orbital Comics (London)

Gosh! Comics

Or the fab and groovy Nobrow Press Shop

Here's a trailer for the book too!

...and don't forget to drop by the Robotslayer Website

Charlotte's best bit: Loving all the different types of robot at the start of the book (the chef one was her fave)

Daddy's Favourite bit: A thumpingly good fast-paced and exciting graphic novel for kids. Brilliant, more please soon!