Written and illustrated by 10-year-old Arnav Ashok, Arni’s Adventures is a collection of comics that follows the titular Arni through a series of everyday and fantastical events.
Ashok’s book contains eight stories, each charmingly illustrated and featuring red-headed Arni. Whether Ashok is depicting a towering dinosaur or a group of popcorn-obsessed aliens, he displays a sly sense of humor.
For example, in the opening story, titled “The Housefly Menace,” Arni seeks to catch a particularly wily housefly. After several failed attempts, Arni manages to capture the fly, enticing it with a plate of food and then slamming a cover over the plate. He triumphantly releases the fly outside, only to have the fly recruit others for a new assault: “Let’s show him our real power! See the window? That’s the way!” As Arni sees them coming, his eye looks like it might explode.
Also entertaining, “Alien Invasion,” has the clever conceit of aliens attracted to Earth after one of them tastes Arni’s popcorn and shares his discovery with other aliens.
However, some of the stories can be puzzling. In “My Pet Dinosaur,” Arni discovers a strange egg in his front lawn that contains a baby dinosaur. He calls for his mother, but she’s busy and shouts that it’s OK for him to keep whatever he found. Then the egg hatches, and the pet dinosaur grows to unmanageable proportions, ruining Arni’s home. Dialogue bubbles seem to indicate his mother knows what’s happening, but one wonders why Arni’s mother would have let the dinosaur remain in the home all this time. It’s also unclear what’s happening during a large portion of some other offerings, such as “The Ghost Hunt” and “The Beast Behind the Door.”
Arni’s Adventures is sometimes amusing, sometimes baffling; regardless of the latter, the young author shows promise, both with his drawings and stories. While this collection could use polishing, Ashok is a person to watch as he refines his craft in the future.