Gon is a delightful wordless manga created by Masashi Tanaka (Japan, 1962). Originally published from 1991 to 2002, it concerns the adventures of the titular character, a small, hot-tempered dinosaur who somehow survived extinction and now wanders all over the map of the tertiary period. It was serialized in short, self-conclusive stories. Most of them are in black and white, but there were a few color stories too.
Gon pops up in different geographical settings, like jungles, forests, deserts, etc. His motivations are pretty basic, usually trying to eat or get some rest. However, circumstances always get in the way. Though grumpy, he usually ends up standing up for the more vulnerable animals, facing off against beasts often many times his size. He is basically a prehistoric superhero, since he seems to be incredibly strong and resistant. He also often uses his cunning to outsmart beasts like lions and bears. Though the conforntations can get a little violent, the mood is usually lighthearted, and there is a happy ending to every story.
The artwork is incredibly detailed, and offers a fantastic balance between a realistic depiction of the environment, and the cartoony reactions of the characters, which are crucial in the absence of dialogue or narration. The action is very dynamic and over-the-top, and often very clever. At the end of each chapter, as a bit of educational trivia, there are painted portraits with the names of the animals featured in the story.
Gon has been published by various American editorials over the year, the latest of which is Kodansha. It is usually rated as a teens book, due to its alleged violence but it doesn’t get too gruesome and, in my opinion, is a great book for kids to learn about different animals and geographical environments by following the adventures of a cute, fun dinosaur.