As with the other Explorers titles produced by Malaysian company GempakStarz and distributed in America by Papercutz, Dinosaur Explorers is filled with the trademark coupling of gorgeous art with truly informative and educational text breaks. And while certain things don’t necessarily lend themselves well to cultural translations, others fall flat in any situation — or at least any situation in the year 2021, as we’re hopefully coming out of a global pandemic and should be thinking of how we can be kinder and more respectful of one another as human beings.
I am referring, of course, to the early gag of Rain and the professor, two of the most important characters in this book, deciding to not only spy on the two female members of the Dinosaur Explorers team as they bathe in hot springs but also to make derogatory comments as to the 13 year-old’s body not being developed enough to be worth spying on. While the feminine duo is depicted as being clever in the ways they foil these pervs, can we not normalize that kind of misogynistic behavior in the first place, especially in people we’re meant to root for? It’s deeply disrespectful, truly trash behavior, and I’m sick of seeing it in mainstream Asian comics.
The rest of the book isn’t terrible. The overall premise is that the team has accidentally traveled back in time and gotten stuck, able only to hop forward several hundred years or so with each jump. Given how long dinosaurs roamed the earth, this means that they spend a lot of time studying and trying to avoid being eaten by same. This volume focuses on the period when dinosaurs took to the skies, examining the known science behind what we believe of the time and providing a fanciful tale to bring home to readers the majesty and danger of these prehistoric creatures.
The story follows Rain as he and the two other teenage boys of the group, smart Sean and strong Stone, head off to gather food for the party, aided by their robot supercomputer Little S. Trying to gather eggs only gets them into trouble, so they eventually find their way to the sea to fish. Fortunately, seafood is plentiful, but amassing such a large amount draws the attention of predators. The boys will have to battle their way home, discovering unexpected allies through kindness and friendship.
It’s a fairly standard adventure, with the art really elevating the proceedings, but I just can’t get over the attempt to normalize the objectification of the two female members of the party. There’s such a fine line between disrespecting a person’s privacy and disrespecting their personal space and dignity. I’m so tired of entertainment that pretends that boys being hamsap boys is okay, or that the girls subject to this don’t feel threatened and unsafe. I can tell you from firsthand experience that stuff like this totally makes us feel threatened and unsafe, and that not even the adrenaline rush of foiling pervs makes up for the degradation of being treated like sexual objects against our wills in the first place.
Maybe the other books in the series have better lessons, but unless it erases its misogyny, this is not a book I would ever hand my kids.
Dinosaur Explorers Vol. 8: Lord of the Skies by Redcode, Albbie & Air Team will be published tomorrow April 13 2021 by Papercutz Press and is available for pre-order now from
Want it now? For the Kindle version, click here.