Stray Dogs volume one graphic novel review

From writer Tony Fleecs, artist Trish Forstner, colorist Brad Simpson, layouts by Tone Rodriguez, flatter Lauren Perry, published by Image comics. This volume collects issues 1-5.

I have not been able to shut up about this comic since reading this graphic novel. Co-workers, friends, everyone. I run up and say, this is a murder mystery told from the perspective of dogs and it’s drawn like a cartoon. Most of them look at me like I’m screwed up in the head. Thankfully, some are curious and will be purchasing the book. 

That is the elevator pitch but I can’t really improve on that. Sophie is a little dog brought into a house with many other dogs. They all appear to be rescues. There’s a nice master. He goes out during the day to do things. While he’s gone the dogs talk to each other. Sophie has this feeling that she had a previous master and is trying to remember that previous life. But, she’s a dog. As anyone who has had a dog knows, they act like you’ve been gone a year when you’ve left the house for an hour. Time and memory aren’t processed the way humans do. 

Damn though if this creative team doesn’t use the sense of smell as a brilliant and integral plot point. There are memories to be unlocked, ideas to be hatched, and clues to be sniffed. This isn’t a comic designed for pet owners only, this is for anyone who loves a good read whether that’s a comic or a mystery. I fell in love with everyone of the dogs and cheered and gasped and hoped every four legged step along the way. 

The art ends up disturbing because it is so cute. This feels like a wholesome Saturday morning cartoon but is anything but that. I hope comic stores are smart and aware and don’t put this with My Little Pony or Adventure Time. All it takes is one upset parent to start the fight against comics once more, and we’ve been there enough times. This dichotomy makes the comic so much more interesting than if the dogs were drawn in realistic or gritty ways. Dogs are wholesome and loving creatures, which comes across in the animated art style and immediately gives the reader an attachment to the entire pack. It may be Law & Order: ASPCA but it is also something to fall in love with. 

I would warn anyone with a super soft spot for dogs and an easy emotional trigger that this comic could be upsetting. Bad things happen, and it was rough for me despite the fact that I don’t have any pets. I can only imagine others having a difficult, yet rewarding time with the comic.

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