The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future
written by Dav Pilkey
Ook and Gluk are caveboy friends who love to get into trouble together. When they annoy Big Chief Gobbernopper, he decides to get rid of them for once and for all. Luckily for the chief his evil descendent in 2222 AD has invented a time machine and come back to prehistoric days to steal trees, fossil fuels, and other extinct resources. Together the two Gobbernoppers will enslave the cavepeople and steal from the past and only Ook and Gluk can stop them. Good thing the boys came through the time machine into the future and are training in martial arts!
The Adventures of Ook and Gluk is the second graphic novel “made by” George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the boys who “created” Captain Underpants (following 2002’s The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby). Pilkey works carefully to create a graphic novel that looks and reads like it was written by boys, but that also has a coherent, if humorously meandering, plot. Ook and Gluk seem like they could be any boy around: funny, inventive, and a good deal chaotic. Their ordinariness will appeal to readers, especially boys, who will enjoy picturing themselves as the kung-fu heroes. The environmental element is worked in nicely, getting the point across without belaboring it. The villains are defeated by their own hubris and the boys even get the girls in the end, but without any kissing to scare off readers allergic to cooties.
Pilkey’s art is wonderfully simple, making the book seem even more like it could have been written by children. The pages are crisp, but the drawings are rendered in shades of gray, as if they had been drawn in pencil. Nothing is too perfect and there are even areas where mistakes have been scratched out. Parents will probably cringe at the purposefully misspelled text and dialogue, but it adds an extra layer of reality to the homemade vibe. The action is occasionally broken up by flip pages which turn two ordinary scenes into one moving one, a terrific way to keep readers feeling engaged and active. There are just enough bits of light butt and vomit jokes to keep boys giggling. The continuing popularity of the Captain Underpants series makes this almost a necessary purchase for graphic novel collections, but it is a story that can be appreciated even by those who have not read Pilkey’s other works.