‘Ubby’s Underdogs – the Legend of the Phoenix Dragon’ is the first book in the graphic novel trilogy by Brenton E McKenna, a Broome-based author and illustrator.
The Indigenous writer/illustrator draws upon family stories, Broome’s history, and the town’s rich mix of Indigenous, Malay, Chinese and settler people experiences. McKenna exploits a superhero narrative, led by Ubby – an Indigenous girl from Broome – and a richly multicultural cast. The books seamlessly weave hyper-local and international traditions and techniques into an exciting and enjoyable reading experience.
The prologue sketches a backstory of an ancient Chinese dragon that has travelled south, to Australia, to prolong its life. That story, we learn, is being told to a young Chinese girl, Sai Fong, who has arrived in immediate postwar Broome, where the action begins. But no sooner has Sai Fong proved her fighting talents to Ubby’s Underdogs than she is kidnapped, and the graphic novel unfolds to tell of Ubby and her gang’s pursuit of their new friend.
In Broome Ubby’s Underdogs face a number of combatants, including the rival Pearl Junior Gang; the greedy, powerful businessman Paul Donappleton; mythical monsters; and as various street thugs and assorted henchmen.
The cast of more than 30 characters are portrayed visually at the beginning of each book in the trilogy.
Illustration emphasises physical gesture and facial expression in a stylised and consistent manner. Visually, the Broome region’s deep red sands and pale blue skies are a common backdrop to the action. The perspective moves like a camera, taking the reader close up the rapidly unfolding action.
Humour is an essential part of the story: physical comedy and fart jokes are part of the dynamic storytelling.
‘Ubby’s Underdogs – The Legend of the Phoenix Dragon is the first part of a story that continues in ‘Ubby’s Underdogs – Heroes Beginnings’ and concludes in ‘Ubby’s Underdogs – Return of the Dragons’.
Brenton E McKenna is descended from the Yawuru people of the Broome region of Western Australia.
‘Ubby’s Underdogs – the Legend of the Phoenix Dragon’ is the first book in the graphic novel trilogy ‘Ubby’s Underdogs’.
Series : Ubby’s Underdogs Book 1