Veteran creator Mark McKenna has published a couple of delightful “Banana Tail” children’s books over the years, and now gives his creation, a monkey with a banana for a tail, a true comic book treatment in the form of “Boonana Tail Halloween Special.” This anthology consists of five new stories featuring his character and his cast of friends all with mild and innocently spooky themes, which missed Halloween by a week but can be enjoyed mostly by children, but also by their parents to a lesser extent. Other comic veterans like Jim Calafiore and Fabian Nicieza are among the dozen or so creators all contributing to this special that carries the same kind of delight as McKenna’s past books.
Leadoff story “Boo!” by McKenna and Calafiore is the comic’s longest and strongest entry, and features Banana Tail, Reena and Tic Tac getting lost in the woods after a scare, getting split up and finding themselves in an even scarier situation. The trio is scared, sure, but the scenario isn’t genuinely frightening for young children. The story’s message about friendship and cooperation is softly spoken, and the animal characters are all rendered in a friendly manner, looking like a set of stuffed animals on a child’s bed. The momentary threats, like bats and spiders, are also gently depicted for children’s enjoyment.
Calafiore writes and Geraldo Borges draws “Banana Tail and the Almost Ghost, a three-pager where Banana Tail’s new costume fails to not only scare anybody, but also conceal who he is, much to his own puzzlement. The reason is plainly visible to older attentive readers, but younger ones will get the joke, and will probably laugh at the cute if a little illogical surprise ending. Blake Northcott and Borges’ follow up with “Reena’s Candy Crush,” a four-page story that is not about an addiction to a smartphone app, but rather the Banana Tail and his friends prepping for Trick-or-Treat. Borges stays faithful to McKenna’s character designs in both tales.
Ryan Browne deviates from the standard look a bit in McKenna’s “There’s a Fungus Among Us,” opting for a more stylish comical vibe in this five-pager than the more traditional funny animal style of the other features. “Safety First” by Sam Eggleston and Richard Johnson is a fun but educational single-page presentation of safety tips for Trick-or-Treaters. The issue closes with the three page “Scaredy Cats” by Nicieza and Kevin West which finds the gang lost in the woods again, this time on the way to a Halloween party. It has the least to say story-wise and will probably seem pointless to readers looking for a message. West lends a different style to this story with the usage of watercolors, but stays largely true otherwise to the look and feel of the other stories.
“Boonana Tail Halloween Special” is a fun one-shot that younger children will get the most out of, and parents will find mildly entertaining at worst. Save this one with the Halloween decorations, so that kids can enhance their Halloween experience next year.