Created by: Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstnet
Colours: Brad Simpson
Layouts: Tone Rodriguez with Mike Vasquez
Stray Dogs: Dog Days is the sequel-come-prequel series of the original and brilliant Stray Dogs, It’s a series I have written about before and waxed lyrical. The format of this new series differs from the original so far, as the first issue is a series of short stories instead of a single running narrative. Most of these short stories are flashbacks of the lives of several of the characters established in the main series, prior to their dognapping. It is due to this format that the stories are almost all bittersweet. Each story focuses on one dog and their owner and shows a period of their life together, to varying degrees. Anyone who has read the original series will know that this can only lead to a grizzly serial murder and a sad pup being taken in by a psychopath. The happier the life of the dog beforehand just makes the other shoe fall all the harder. This is all with one exception, a scene that takes place during the dogs unwitting incarceration at the killer’s home. After three of the dogs argue in the garden about how great a particular stick is, one of the dogs digs up a human skeletal arm, brandishing it in triumph only to be chastised and told to return it. This feels more like a dark comedy beat and is a nice moment away from the anticipated horror of the other sections, despite still having a hint of the macabre.
There is great variety in the storytelling of the different sections in this issue, for example Gucci’s tale of being a famous Instagram dog, is told completely through screen shots and the social media chat bar. Some stories are just snapshots of the dogs and owners and some show more of the killer’s methods and process. The whole package ties together to really flesh the original story out and provides details and background that couldn’t be shown via the viewpoint of the dogs. The art remains stunning throughout, continuing the aminated style reminiscent of 2D Disney and Don Bluth which makes it so easy to care for these dogs, who are humanised just enough to have convincing expressions but not so much that one could forget what they are.
I really enjoy the characterisation of the dogs as having the limitations of actual dogs, specifically their ability to remember. In the original series this added an extra degree of tension, these animals were trying to solve a human problem but with the added weight of a short term memory. However this aspect also creates a problem when you are trying to tell new stories. Presumably, after the events of the original series these dogs will be separated and quickly forget each other exists. Considering that, I think the choice to set this series up as a prequel was a wise one. Even though most of the stories left me feeling somewhat bereft, I also really liked spending more time with these doggos. Issue #2 promises further origin stories for some of the other dogs and I’ll be there for that. I can’t personally think of a way these stories could continue long term but I hope I’m proven wrong in spectacular fashion.
For fans of the original series, pick this title up. It has further deepened my appreciation of the main series. If you are new to Stray Dogs I would recommend going back and reading the main series to completion before embarking (get it?) on this title. Nevertheless, this gets a rating of: Highly Recommended.