Monkey Vs. Robot
Top Shelf Productions, Marietta, Georgia. 2000. 144 p.
Well who knew James Kochalka had a literary life before Pinky & Stinky? He did. And he had this amazing graphic novel, Monkey Vs. Robot, which is every bit as good as Pinky & Stinky but in a completely different way. Whereas Pinky and Stinky were adorable pigs in space just trying to make friends, the titular Monkey and Robot in this book are at odds with each other after a fatal misunderstanding.
The book opens with a monkey slinking across the page looking forlorn and maybe a little suspicious with the sentence: “Why can’t we all love each other, Monkey and our Robot brother?” With that sentence, you can probably guess where this book is headed.
One night a monkey is in the jungle minding his own monkey-business while a robot is farther away being built in a factory. The robot wanders out into the jungle to get a rock, and the monkeys watch in shock and awe from afar. The robot takes the rock back to the factory where it is turned into a thick sludge that pours out of a tube into the jungle. Sadly, one of the monkeys is in the wrong place at the wrong time and gets doused in the black sludge and dies. The other monkeys see this and spread the word that it’s the fault of the robot and his sludge. Things get out of hand from there.
Angry feelings and language barriers lead to more death and suffering for the rest of the book. Robots attack monkeys, monkeys attack robots. Neither side is willing to back down because each sees his own cause as the just one. The book concludes with one of the monkeys in the remains of the destroyed former robot factory. Is there hope after all that has happened? Possibly. Chances are good because I’ve seen there is a sequel to this book.
It’s not warm and fuzzy like Pinky & Stinky, but it’s well drawn and thoughtful and every bit as enjoyable.