Father and son make, publish robot comic

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WILLIAMSTOWN -- They don't wear capes or matching tights, but the dynamic father-son duo of Michael and Diego Mongue do thrive in the thrills-filled world of monsters, explosions and the misadventures of an anthropomorphic robot named Dennis.

Painter Michael Mongue and Diego, a fifth-grader at Williamstown Elementary School, are the co-creators of a new quarterly homespun comic book series they call "Awesome Robot Science Fiction Action Comix," published by Prashanti Press, a small operation in Pound Ridge, N.Y.

The two spent the past week preparing for and hosting a couple of book-signing events at the New Lebanon Library and Water Street Books in Williamstown, from printing posters to putting the finishing touches on a life-size replica of Dennis made out of recycled cardboard tubes and mechanical junk parts.

The first 21-page comic book ($5.99) includes hand-drawn, colored and lettered storyboards and ad parodies inspired by lunchbox notes the elder Mongue used to pack for 10-year-old Diego when he was younger.

"They started as your typical parent notes of encouragement, things like ‘eat your lunch' and ‘study hard.' Then they progressed into something sillier," Michael said.

"Yeah, like, ‘Don't eat cake out of the garbage,' " Diego said.

The notes and the story were discovered by Prashanti Publisher Wendy Lipp, who suggested the duo turn their banter into a book. So they did.

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PHOTO GALLERY | Williamstown father-son duo create ‘Awesome Robot’ comic

A description of the project, which they refer to as "A.R.S.F.A.C," says the series "combines child-like flights of fancy with irreverent satire on American popular culture and consumerism."

Both father and son are fans of cheesy 1950s-era B-movies of the sci-fi and horror genres and the world of the late musician Frank Zappa. Diego also likes newer graphic novel series like Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and George O'Connor's "Olympians."

Dennis, for example, cruises the universe in Rocket No. 2, but it's got a control room outfitted with an 8-track cassette player.

When younger family member Garcia, 5, came home from school obsessed with the word "stench," Michael and Diego developed a fictional bottled product of the same name and placed an ad in their comic promoting it for the house that smells "too clean" -- sort of the anti-Febreze.

"It's pretty fun to work with my dad and take things from everyday life and have fun with it," Diego said .

"I think the best part is having people look at this and laugh, not only kids, but adults too," Michael said. "It's just cool that you can do this stuff with your kids."


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