Review: Big Adventures At A Small Size In ‘Bug Boys’

by James Ferguson

Rhino-B and Stag-B are navigating the world together as best buds. Over the course of their adventures they meet new friends, discover new areas, and even encounter humans, all the while learning some valuable lessons about life and friendship. They also have a whole lot of fun.

Bug Boys is the quirky beetle comic you didn’t know you wanted. Creator Laura Knetzger fills the book with short stories showing average days in the lives of Rhino-B and Stag-B. With some slight alterations, you could transport them into the human world and they’d fit right in. Their doubts and insecurities mirror those of children as they figure out the lay of the land.
This means they get into fights, both with one another and with other folks. They are also super excited about what the world has in store. They understand that there’s a lot more out there that they haven’t seen. This is something the two beetles definitely look forward to, but it also scares them a little bit. These lessons aren’t so overt that they’ll take you out of the story, however they are direct enough that children can understand them well. When reading this with my kids they were able to draw parallels between some of the stuff that they did and what Rhino-B and Stag-B were doing.

Knetzger’s art style is welcoming and fun. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the lives of these two characters. They have this gung-ho positive vibe to them with everything they do. This makes it all the more shocking when they get into fights as the entire tone of the story changes.
I really like how the style shifts a bit when a human gets involved. Most of Bug Boys is shown from the perspective of the bugs, so a person is like a giant amorphous blob. When we change our point of view, the beetles look like normal bugs, not the cartoonish characters we’ve seen throughout the book. It’s a fun little detail that shows how the world can change if you shift your perspective.

Lyle Lynde’s colors bring an additional burst of life and energy to Bug Boys. Every page is vibrant and lush. Although Bug Village is a small space in a forest somewhere, it feels like a vast world full of wonder and possibility. There’s a warmth to this place. Later on, when Rhino-B and Stag-B go on some scarier adventures, the tone shifts with darker colors coming into the picture, adding to the uneasy nature of cave-exploring.
There’s one story in Bug Boys that gets a little existential. It went over my head and my kids didn’t really understand it either. It deals with positive and negative feelings in a trippy way as the two beetles get lost in a cave. It ends up spiraling out into this strange battle between the light and dark that felt out of place in this book that was otherwise rather straightforward up until this point.

Bug Boys is fun, pure and simple. It deals with issues that kids face today like making new friends, confronting fears, and not judging a book by its cover. It’s also full of wacky adventures starring two best friends.
Bug Boys from Random House Graphic is currently available at your local comic shop and Amazon.

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