Review by Ian Keogh
When considering creators who could transfer their talents to all-ages material, Darryl Cunningham won’t be the first name that comes to anyone’s mind, yet Uncle Bob Adventures hits the spot. The simplicity that Cunningham applies to breaking down complex topics like stock market crashes and psychiatric illness is eminently transferable to what may be the wild fantasies of a compulsive storyteller. Then again, they may be the truth.
Uncle Bob has lived a life. He’s been places and met people entirely out of keeping with the bald old gent sitting in the armchair spinning stories for his young nieces. Did he really meet Frankenstein’s Monster high in the Alps having survived a fall off the side of a mountain? Was he really there for the Martian invasion? Was much of his childhood spent in the old West? All that, of course, is irrelevant, and what counts is the magic Bob weaves in the telling. Or, to be accurate, the magic Cunningham weaves in the telling.
There are limitations to Cunningham’s drawing, with squared off figures and two dimensional panels, but this isn’t the real world, and everything is internally consistent, so this is a style suited to the needs of the stories. It comes with enough charm and detail to please a younger audience without overly confusing the pictures.
Over five stories of exaggerated derring-do we learn the adventures and tragedies of Bob’s life, and tragedies there are, Cunningham not sugar coating or talking down to his intended young audience. He’s relatively restrained to start with, but as more possibilities occur, Cunningham’s imagination kicks in, and it’s always satisfying when the last story’s the best. It’s only two pages, but ensures Uncle Bob will still be around for Volume Two, as he turns death away from his door. Again.