Graphic Novel Review: Your Pal Fred by Michael Rex

Your Pal Fred by Michael Rex. Viking Books for Young Readers, 2022. 9780593206331. 272pp.

Michael Rex (Fangbone!) has created a kid-friendly post-apocalyptic world full of slime cannons and mostly ridiculous weapons. (It’s kind of You Can’t Do That On Television meets classic The Road Warrior, though I know that dates me.)

Two brothers, Pug and Plug, stumble into the ruins of a toy store and accidentally activate Fred, a fresh-faced robotic friend from a bygone age that is intent on spreading kindness and friendship. In quick succession Fred is taken prisoner twice and told he’s a subject of first Lord Bonkers and then Papa Mayhem. Fred gets free, but decides to visit each ruler and ask them to stop fighting over resources. (Fred’s new friend Wormy thinks it’s a crazy plan.)

The ruins, costumes, and even the weapons are all very cartoony, and there’s very little sense of danger despite the dirt and the wreckage of our civilization. And guess what? Kindness wins the day. My favorite part: when Fred meets Lord Bonkers and gives him a gift, a tiny rock with a face on it. (Fred does voices for the rock. Lord Bonkers is not amused.)


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