Troop 142 (Secret Acres) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, August 1st, 2021  

Troop 142

Secret Acres

Mike Dawson

Sep 15, 2011 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

I think there are a lot of interpretations to Troop 142, an original graphic novel concerning Boy Scouts and adult chaperones up at a summer camp. It’s a credit to the creator, Mike Dawson, that the book is so rich with genuine-feeling human interaction and characterization that it merits discussion as literature rather than pop entertainment.

On the surface, this is a fun story of awkward relations between a bunch of scouts aged between about 14 and 18 years old, and the few adults. It’s a fine tale with plenty of good humor, some scout-specific and some fairly universal teenage boy, with plenty of cringe-worthy moments to boot. The cartooning does its job; it is descriptive and expressive and very consistent. The characters are instantly identifiable and their individual looks in some cases seem to cut to the depths of their character. Or even mask it, in the case of Mr. Demaria (perhaps that’s just my anti-moustache bias talking).

I think the book is ultimately a more ambitious endeavor than one might expect from the subject matter and Dawson’s amiable cartooning style, but it’s an ambition the book lives up to.

As much as the character interactions are entertaining—seeing juveniles away from home behave like juveniles away from home is amusing—there’s more to it, a real core of human experience. It’s a little bit about attempting things and failing them. It’s as much about the shortcomings of the chaperones as it is about the growth of the kids, or lack thereof in some cases. But I think it’s ultimately about recognizing the gap between reality and your expectations of other people, and how one negotiates that gap. The Boy Scout leadership seems to hide behind bright-seeming principles, but sometimes these are shields for clear bigotry, or at the very least hypocrisy.

The rules the kids make and subject each other to are somewhat more arbitrary, and certainly less obfuscating, but often equally cruel. And yet this is a world where everyone can seemingly fend for themselves, in one fashion or another. With bits like fathers protecting or upsetting their sons and the cruelty of children to each other, it’s even wrenching in parts.

And plus there are lots of dick jokes. We have a winner. ( /

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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