My husband came in and saw this lying on the kitchen table: “Is that your copy of Terry Teo? Sweet!” He remembered it from his childhood; it was first released in 1982 and became something of a cult favourite. At that time it was also a TV series (staring Billy T James, amongst others) and spawned two sequels. Now, it has been remastered and re-released in preparation for the new, much darker, television series.
Terry Teo is a 12-year old boy who loves his skateboard. Entirely by accident, he stumbles upon three gunrunners. He manages to escape – but not before they see him. What follows is a complicated series of occasionally slapstick and chaotic events that would make Tintin* proud, involving Terry; his two siblings, Polly and Ted; a gang of motorcyclists; the evil businessman, Ray Vegas, and his two bumbling sidekicks.
It’s all jolly good nostalgic fun, with a distinctly kiwi flavour to the illustrations – including the charmingly-named small town Kaupati (say it aloud) with its tiny police station and A&P show. This is truly like travelling back into a time before cellphones, before the internet, into a world where kids get to have the adventures – because the adults are too oblivious or silly to solve the problems themselves. With its fast pace and humour, this graphic novel can now be enjoyed by a new generation, and may especially be embraced by the more reluctant reader.
At the end of the book there are three bonus chapters, explaining the Kiwiana/cult following of the original tale and plans for the new TV series. Whilst this book can be enjoyed by fairly young readers – probably 10 plus – the TV show looks to be darker and intended for a more teenage market. It has Terry aged 17, and focuses somewhat on gang culture. Perhaps not for the younger viewer.
*Tintin even gets a cameo!
Reviewed by Angela Oliver
Terry Teo and the Gunrunners
by Stephen Ballantyne, illustrated by Bob Kerr
Published by Earths End Publishing