It’s not a seahorse, it’s not a ship, it’s a cow – a squid cow. Hold your fins, that’s just Squid Comic of the Week! This week’s comic is Monkey Meat Safari by Juni Ba.
Why do you love comics? For us, they take us to beautiful new places we can only dream of. But dreaming is just the half of it. The real kicker comes from seeing other people’s dreams painted in pixel-perfect art, plotlines that make us gasp, and characters we love to hate and hate to love.
Monkey Meat Safari is one of those comics we can’t get enough of. It features audacious new worlds, bizarre concepts and Juni Ba’s phenomenal art. In this Squid CoW review of African comics, Kofi and I share everything we love, hate and look forward to in the comic (it’s actually an illustrated picture book but we won’t admit it).
Monkey Meat Safari is a journal of Juni Ba’s visit to the wondrous island of Monkey Meat, owned by a powerful conglomerate, whose activities turned the land, well, weird. Juni calls it his Inkober vacation and it follows in the fashion of Inktober posts. The book shows how each day pans out on the Island during his stay.
…a fun and odd universe in which I let loose and experiment with ideas. Based on the idea of a magical island owned by an evil company producing cans of processed monkey meat. This project manifests itself through an illustrated book following the adventures of a naive visitor during the safari, and a 19 pages-long comic book about Thaddeus Lug, the monster-smashing groundskeeper, as he deals with unfair work conditions.Juni Ba says of Monkey Meat Safari,
Monkey Meat Safari is one of three books in the Monkey Meat universe; a playground where Juni Ba tries weird ideas and formats and most importantly has loads of fun.
Important info about Monkey Meat Safari
Initial Release: October 1, 2018
Origin: Senegal (although Juni is based in France)
Creator, Writing & Art: Juni Ba
Publisher: Juni Ba (on Gumroad) & Kugali
Imagine a perfect mash-up of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Scooby-Doo on Spooky Island. That’s Monkey Meat Safari.
If you read the first instalment in the Moneky Meat world, then you ‘d understand the underdealings of this magical Island. But this particular Inktober themed take on Monkey Meat is rather a behind-the-scenes look at Monkey Meat Island’s factory that produces Soul Juice, sounds good, right? The bok features a cameo from Thaddeus Lug, a fed-up employee who goes berserk.
I love the POV nature of this short comic. It’s an intense walkthrough from start to finish. I’m a sucker for anything dystopian and it seems Juni, the world-building genius knows how to deliver such environments.
First up, it’s Juni Ba. I love Juni’s art style so of course, the first thing I’d love is the art. It’s as audacious as it is bizarre. Honestly, I’d love to hang each panel from the comic on my wall. Each panel is a full-page spread with no speech bubbles and minimal text thanks to the unique format. Yay for Juni Ba and his lovely experiments. I love the format of the comic, that it’s more or less a postcard. Wait, does this count as a comic in the first place? 🤔
Oh and the characters! While we don’t get to explore what makes them tick, that they’re basically monkeys (and other animals) that dress, think and act like humans is rad. As you’d expect from Juni Ba, the tech in this is all leaves me howling, “oh that’s so cool!”
My eyes watered and my cheeks perked up when I saw how everyday, unassuming objects were used as weapons. I’m working on a project where a character uses an old school camera as a weapon so seeing someone else use it makes me happy and tells me it’s not such a crazy idea after all. Thanks, Juni.
Lastly, the dialogue (or lack) in this comic…phew, what a fun ride! You should absolutely read it.
Damn! This comic is a kick-ass drip on all levels. I enjoyed it, so I can’t fault it.
Urgh? Are you insane? There’s everything to love about this. Although, I would have loved to see who was telling the story and maybe, explored Monkey Meat Safari a little more. I mean, I know it’s supposed to be from Juni’s point of view, but I think I’d pay a few Cedis to see what Juni Ba looks like in this bizarre world. What is he wearing, what are his facial expressions, how’s he taking everything? Questions, questions, questions.
Hang on, he does in fact appear in the comic. But still, I would have loved to see more (that’s him below at the “job interview”). Is this my Oliver Twist moment? Maybe. 🙂
Infinity and Beyond 💫
If you are familiar with Kayin and Abeni Afro-Space Adventures and Juni’s latest Harebrain, then you know the story arcs of Monkey Meat wouldn’t lack the same finesse.
The obscurity of Amin El Flouz is my bane in this feature. A cynical and ruthless conglomerate boss who eats monkey brains. I will like to know how spooky things get from here.
What happens next? Do meddling travellers become ingredients for more Soul Juice or do they become part of the factory? I need to know. I’ve read Monkey Meat already and other than Soul Juice (yes, that’s a thing the whole world is hooked on, think Coca Cola) and Monkey Meats High Calory Processed Meat, I’m not sure how they’re connected. I’d really love to know the connection between all these stories.
For now, I’m gonna go read Monkey Meat Island to see if that clears up anything.
Also, is Amin El Flouz actually a bad guy? What’s his backstory? How did he found the company and who thinks to make juice out of souls? That’s so weird.
How to Read Monkey Meat Safari
Monkey Meat Safari is available to read free of charge (for now) on Juni Ba’s Gumroad page. You can purchase the other stories in the Monkey Meat universe on the Kugali store (Monkey Meat) or via Gumroad (Monkey Meat Island). Follow Juni Ba on Twitter, Instagram and Artstation.