Taking readers to wilds of the Canadian gold rush, Captain Congo and his crime-busting buddy Pug confront significant shenanigans deep underground, where greedy miners plot to steal and kill, so crazed are they by gold fever. Captain Congo and Pug confront ghosts, skeletons and even a giant sasquatch in their most daring adventure yet.
Captain Congo – a large, well-spoken gorilla in a double-breasted blazer and a sailor’s cap – is bold, strong and smart – a triple threat for any villain. Pug, his sidekick, is a penguin – sensitive, fussy, and ill-at-ease in the world. Pug, in many ways, is the opposite to Captain Congo and yet they make an inseparable pair. Their crime fighting adventures take them around the globe and occur sometime in the past, perhaps the 1920s judging by the technology, although no historical events are precisely mentioned.
The Captain Congo books (there are three titles), consciously revel in a nostalgic mode of storytelling. Starke’s cheeky humour, and Holfeld’s dynamic artwork and detailed visual research, recapture a past era and update it for the modern eye. There is a gleefully ironic celebration of the colonial world.
Greg Holfeld’s dynamic and action-oriented illustrations relieve the writer of a great deal of explanation, although the text by Ruth Starke (1946–2022), is tightly scripted throughout. Background and exposition are quickly conveyed, leaving room for many jokes, puns and sight gags. These are very funny adventure books.
Readers familiar with Herge’s ‘Tintin’ books will immediately recognise the mode of storytelling: a crime fighting pair (think Tintin and Snowy), take on out-sized challenges in exotic and faraway places. The Captain Congo books are an excellent gateway to Tintin as they are shorter, the action is more to the fore, and the plots clear and strong. The Captain Congo stories are, unironically, ripping yarns.
Series title: ‘Captain Congo and the Klondike Gold’ is the third instalment in the Captain Congo series.