The Drained Brains Caper: Book 1 By Trina Robbins

characters The Drained Brains Caper: Book 1

Raf knows Megan is trouble from the moment she steps into his mom's pet food store asking for a tarantula. But there's one thing you can count on in Chicagoland: weird things happen several times a day.

Megan is a vegetarian, manga-reading haiku writer. She definitely doesn't fit in at Stepford Academy, her new summer school. The other students are happy to be in class. Too happy. And everyone looks and acts exactly alike. That's weird.

Megan is determined to dig into Stepford's secrets, but soon she's in way too deep. Raf may be the only human being she knows who can help. But with zombified students, very mad scientists, and the school psychiatrist on their trail, they're going to need a whole lot more help.

We did say that Chicagoland is weird. . . The Drained Brains Caper: Book 1

At first I had a hard time getting started with this book. The first couple pages didn’t jump out and grab me. Then I the book took a shift and started getting good, until I just couldn’t put it down. My favorite character is the dog followed by RAF. The girl is okay but she annoys me at times. English Wow, what a huge disappointment. After a great setup, the story descends into cliches and tired storylines. It's a shame, because it starts with a bang: thirteen-year-old Megan bursts into a pet shop and asks to buy a tarantula. The unsuspecting young man at the counter- Raf- informs her that they don't actually sell animals at this pet store, and the foundation of an eventual friendship is laid. Megan is sent to a summer prep school, tellingly named the Stepford Preparatory Academy, and thus begins the descent into mediocrity. OF COURSE the students are being brainwashed and OF COURSE it's because the school cook is drugging the food and OF COURSE she's disguised as the school doctor and principal and OF COURSE there's a talking dog who learned English by watching old Private Eye movies and OF COURSE the boy and girl join forces and defeat the bad guy with a COMPUTER PROGRAM that WIRELESSLY DELETES FILES IN THE HUMAN BRAIN. Bleah bleah bleah.

The art is nice, however. Clean lines and bold inks. This is apparently going to be a series. I hope it gets better.

Note: Drained brains isn't even an accurate description of what the villain does to her victims- she actually performs a partial lobotomy and injects sheep genes into their skulls. Which, of course, is scientifically ridiculous. And which, of course, is miraculously reversed when Raf uses his delete program. Ugh. Such sloppy storytelling. And condescending to the book's audience. English I was really surprised by this when I opened the pages. I knew absolutely nothing about the author, Trina Robbins or this series. What an eye opener! Trina Robbins has been writing for thirty, yes I said thirty years. Her website is @; it is cute and very informative. She has penned a variety of graphic novels; just the covers give you a glimpse into the diversity of her work.
My fingers cramp up just typing the title to this graphic novel: Chicagoland Detective Agency: The Drained Brains Caper. I enjoyed many things about this: the artwork was really good, the dialogue was engaging, the characters were spot on, the plotline was enjoyable and the young adult theme was refreshing. Trina Robbins has put together a very nice graphic novel and one that can be shared with the whole family. I like the fact I can share this with my youngest children and discuss the reading experience. That now a days is difficult as far too many cross lines that don’t need to be crossed.
Here is a bit from the graphic novel itself: “Raf knows Megan is trouble from the moment she steps into his mom's pet food store asking for a tarantula. But there's one thing you can count on in Chicagoland: weird things happen several times a day.
Megan is a vegetarian, manga-reading haiku writer. She definitely doesn't fit in at Stepford Academy, her new summer school. The other students are happy to be in class. Too happy. And everyone looks and acts exactly alike. That's weird.
Megan is determined to dig into Stepford's secrets, but soon she's in way too deep. Raf may be the only human being she knows who can help. But with zombified students, very mad scientists, and the school psychiatrist on their trail, they're going to need a whole lot more help.
We did say that Chicagoland is weird...”
I hope that you give this graphic novel a chance, pick it up, and have some fun that doesn’t come from the DC/Marvel stable. Trina Robbins delivers the total package here and then some.
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English Imagine that you just moved to a new town and had to go to a school that has a strange environment, what would you do?. Well in this fictional graphic novel about mystery, whose title is Chicagoland Detective Agency, The Drained Brains Caper by Trina Robbins and illustrated by Tyler Page, was great, because of of it’s enjoyable illustrations and dialogue, plus it was so enjoyable that it even felt short when I read it.

Megan Yamamura moved recently in the Chicagoland during summer. She met Raf Hernandez, a pet supply store clerk, who also was making a computer program. Also, she became friends with him. Anyway, as she goes to her first day in summer school, she noticed that everyone was acting weird, even the teachers, they seemed too happy. So she was intrigued and wanted to find out what was the secret behind the school. But as she searches, she finds herself captured by Dr. Vorschak, a psychiatrists, also the cook, principal and founder of the Steppford Preparatory Academy, the school Megan goes to. By this, Megan finds out the reason why the students at the school acted weird, it was because Dr. Vorschak wanted a Nobel Prize from making his new Ultra-Teen Transition formula, in which in other words meant to make the students perfect citizens, and by this then he would get rewarded with a Novel Prize. Then, as the doctor starts the procedure to have Megan’s brain change like the other student's brains. The doctor gets distracted by the barking of her testing dog, so during that time, Megan messages Raf for help. Raf finds Megan and stabs the doctor in the leg with a tranquilizer needle, after that Raf frees Megan and on their way out they also saved the testing dog. They discovered that the dog could talk. After this, Megan and the dog got to the top of the building and Raf went to get his computer because he had an idea. After time past there was a whole mob of “hypnotized” students and teachers plus the evil doctor that joined them as well. Then as Raf arrives he shows the doctor his program by hacking the doctor's computer files and deleting them and also, the program also restored the hypnotized minds of the students back to normal, and then they
went back to Raf’s pet supply store and then they got the idea to build their own detective agency, and from then their detective agency was born.

The theme was that you should torture others for you benefit, because the doctor hypnotized the students and staff to make them better citizens and so she could get a Nobel Prize.
One of the conflicts in this book was person vs. society because the doctor as well as the hypnotized students wanted to change meagan into one of them but Megan refused.

For my analysis, the author builds tension and suspense when Megan is captured by Dr. Vorschak and the doctor is going to make some sort of surgery of Megan in order to get Megan think like the other students, to think in a way as a perfect citizen. I personally thought that the doctor was going to get away with it and make Megan think like the other students. But there was a plot twist when Megan texts Raf, and Raf saves her. So with this, my analysis is proved.

In my opinion, I was satisfied by the ending of the book because Megan, Raf, and the testing dog, whose name was Bradley, by the way, unite and create their own detective agency, and also that Raf became the guardian of the abused testing dog, Bradley. I also founded it a bit heartwarming. Then, my favorite part was when Megan and Raf discover that Bradley could talk because I didn't even expected it and it took me by surprise.

I give this book a 4 star rating out of 5 because even though it was great, it had some confusing language and words, but overall I found enjoyable and entertaining as I read it. I would recommend this book to people who like graphic novels and to people who would like to read a quick and entertaining book in their freetime. So have you imagined what would you do if you just moved to a new town and had to go to a school that has a strange environment, Well, Chicagoland detective agency, teaches you a lesson but don’t forget that it’s a new agency that is always ready to serve. English This is a funny, short origin story about 2 kids and a dog who solve crimes. Great for tweens and others looking for a way in to graphic books. Fun! English

Megan Yamamura, anime lover, and writer of haiku, has just moved to Chicagoland and unfortunately for her, is now starting summer school at Stepford Preparatory Academy. Megan knows something strange is going on on her first day: why are all the kids so...weird? Will she be able to find out what's going on at Stepford Prep? Or will she become one of them?

As the name of the school suggests, all the kids were being brainwashed by an evil scientist. Megan is captured, but escapes with the help of Raf, her computer programmer friend. The two manage to destroy the evil scientist's computer program and free all the kids. They also find a super intelligent talking dog, which they free and take home. The three then form the Chicagoland Detective Agency.

I've read a few graphic novels by Trina Robbins, and they're always fine. Some better than others. I love reading her histories of comics. I think that is her strong point, rather than the fictional stories.

I read the first two Chicagoland stories: The Drained Brains Caper and The Maltese Mummy. It looks like the bad guy is the same in each story. She always escapes at the end, and will no doubt keep showing up to cause more mischief.

While neither plot nor dialogue is especially stunning, what I did like was that the fact that Megan's a girl and Raf's a boy played no part whatsoever. Sometimes Megan needs saving, and sometimes Raf needs saving and they work together and help each other out. They have different strengths and weakness. So that was nice. English With eco-friendly lifestyles becoming increasingly more visible & popular, it makes good sense for someone to put out a book filled with those themes & similar ones. After all, kids can be into cruelty-free pet shops, animal rescue, & anti-establishment issues too, you know.

Chicagoland #1 follows the adventures of Trina (a free spirited young vegetarian who isn't afraid to speak her mind) & Raf (a computer savvy son of a pet-free supply store) as they attempt to figure out exactly what is wrong with Trina's summer school. Initially Raf is slow to warm up to our haiku creating heroine but he slowly begins to come around as Trina opens up to him about her disastrous school past as well as her creepy new school environment. Little do they know that there's a heinous plot behind the sloppy joe wielding staff members & Stepford Child-esque school children...

Robbins set out to create a comic filled with issues near & dear to her heart. For the most part she succeeds with creating a story that will not only strike a chord in many children's hearts (who hasn't had a teacher who tried to make us conform?) but also show them several issues that need to be addressed. (It'd be fantastic if there were more pet-free stores out there!) The artwork is wonderfully playful & characters such as the adorable Bradley stand out as the highlights of the book.

It's not all fun & games in the book though. While I agree whole-heartedly with many of Robbin's viewpoints, at times those themes seemed to be a little awkwardly placed. There were also points in the book where the character speak seemed to be a little off for kids who are supposed to be in their early teens. I also wish that there were a few links to some kid-friendly sites where kids can learn about some of the issues discussed in the book. But those were somewhat minor complaints & overall this was a decently solid book that should appeal to a wide age group of kids. (I could see my 6 year old nephew totally digging Bradly.) While the book is full of various themes (too many to list here), Robbins manages to make the child aware of them without making them overly horrifying. (This is aimed towards a younger audience, after all.)

In the end, parents can relax in peace, knowing that their kids are not only learning valuable lessons but also reading a book that has no real violence to speak of or objectionable language. Very kid safe, which is becoming a rarity with some of the books out there today.

(ARC provided by NetGalley) English Megan Yamamura wants a pet. Unfortunately, the young poet’s (she specializes in haiku) father is allergic to all fur-bearing animals, so she’s thinking maybe a tarantula, which is fuzzy but not furry might be the best bet.

She’s been looking all over her new city of Chicagoland and having no luck when she comes into the pet supply store Raf Hernandez is manning the counter of. The young computer whiz is helping out his mother, but the store’s policy is clear–they sell pet supplies, not animals.

Megan has other problems. One of the reasons her family had to move was because she’d been expelled from her old school (a total overreaction to a minor offense) and she now has to spend the summer at Stepford Academy. The students and teachers there are all smiling zombies, and the meat-laden school lunches (anathema to vegetarian Megan) have unusual effects if overeaten.

Raf is the only person her age she kind of knows in the neighborhood, so she has to turn to him when her father ignores the warning signs that something’s not right at Stepford Academy. (In the tradition of middle-school stories, Mr. Yamamura is totally oblivious to what Megan tells him and only listens to other adults.) The kids are soon joined by Bradley, a talking dog, and must stop the mad scientist, Dr. Vorschak, before she can bring the entire city under her sway.

This is the first volume in the Chicagoland Detective Agency series of children’s graphic novels. Trina Robbins is a long-time comics creator, and her writing here is decent if perhaps a bit shortcut-heavy. There’s not much mystery here, but then the detective agency hasn’t been formed yet. The detective himself doesn’t come in until halfway through, and he just happens to have known what was going on all along.

The city of Chicagoland is about 90% Chicago (it has the El and the Cubs), but presumably isn’t just Chicago so that the creative team can shove any odd buildings or fictional organizations they want in.

There’s some slapstick violence, and Dr. Vorschak engages in unethical animal testing as well as unethical human testing. But in general, this should be suitable for middle-school readers.

Recommended to fans of things like the Scooby-Doo cartoons. English I got a digital copy of this book through Netgalley. It looked like a fun little graphic novel and sounded like an amusing premise.

When Megan walks into Raf's pet store he knows she is trouble, she is asking for a pet tarantula afterall. Megan's dad sends her to a exclusive summer prep school where she senses something is not right about the strangely monotonous children there. Will Megan and Raf be able to unravel a devious plot that is set at brainwashing a subset of the juvenile population?

Mainly this book is an intro to Megan, Raf and their talking dog friend. It gets the three set up as the Chicagoland Detective Agency.

There are some great things about this book. It talks about animal rights, prevention of cruelty to animals, and also touches on the value of independence and creativity. So there are definitely some good messages presented here. The illustration was also very good; it is done in kind of an Americanized Manga style and it is easy to follow and conveys the story well. I was never confused about who is who or what was going on.

My biggest complaint with this graphic novel is the dialogue and the plot, both seemed a little second rate to me. The majority of the dialogue is corny and forced sounding, like it fell out of a bad 80's cartoon. I understand that this is a juvenile book, but there are lots of juvenile books out there that are easy to read but don't sound so corny. Also the plot is incredibly predictable and has been done before. Given the premise I was expecting more humor and there is some, but overall the book takes itself pretty seriously.

Overall this is an okay read. It would be good for younger reluctant readers and sends some positive messages. The illustrations are spot on but the story itself is pretty corny and predictable. English Bountiful Brains

I read this book at

This book gets a 3 gnomes and a hat out of 5 gnomes, it's a really fun read and the drawing is well done but sadly the one I read was in black and white it would have definitely would have been a 4 out of 5 if the whole book was in color.

The two main characters are pretty well fleshed out for what's essentially an origin story. Megan's writing in haikus is a nice touch to the dialogue. The villain is great and reminded me of Count Olaf from the A Series of Unfortunate Events books with the way she kept changing her persona.

Megan's new in town and looking for a tarantula but instead she meets Raf at his Mom's pet store. She and Raf become friends and she is definitely the more outgoing one. Megan goes to school at Stepford Academy where everyone is just way too happy and doesn't say anything negative about the school. I really liked the reference to the Stepford wives they threw in there with the naming of the school. One day Megan sees a kid say some weird stuff in class after she shares her lunch with him. So of course she has to figure out why.

So as to not throw out too many spoilers you do indeed find out why the kids are so happy. My favorite character that we get to meet in this volume is Bailey, a talking dog who likes old detective shows.

Overall a fast and fun read that I would recommend to anyone who like zombies or detectives. English