Creators: Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner / Colorist: Brad Simpson / Layouts: Tone Rodriguez with Mike Vasquez / Flatter: Lauren Perry / Image
Content Warning: Violence
Way back near the beginning of the year, the first issue of Stray Dogs came out detailing the dreary story of a group of dogs that found themselves under the ownership of a malevolent man. Styled after Don Bluth animated films with a distinctively dark twist, Stray Dogs was a series that I kept an eye out on, but wasn’t necessary ready to deal with such an emotional charged premise (although, you’ll be able to decide for yourself as the first issue is available to read for free online). As the year comes to a close though, I found myself intrigued especially with the new anthology.
Stray Dogs: Dog Days #1 is a collection of stories that detail the backstories of six of the dogs that occupied the Master’s house. The stories vary in length and time frame, although the vast majority of them act as a prologue to the main series. Fleecs and Forstner do a spectacular job of crafting these short stories. Each one manages to evoke different layers of emotional resonance and manages to capture the anthropomorphism of each of the different dogs to different degrees.
Out of the six stories, I would like to give a particular mention to Gucci’s and Roxanne’s. Gucci’s story is one of the shortest in the extra sized anthology, but it’s use of the Instagram framework is stellar and manages to be very compact and efficient with its storytelling. We’re able to get a very complete picture of the dog/owner dynamic relationship, and the final page lands an incredible one-two punch of a conclusion. Conversely, Roxanne’s story is one of the longer ones, but takes us through the emotional ringer and even knowing how everything turns out, manages to amplify all of the tension in the world.
All in all, let this review serve two purposes: 1) to go check out Stray Dogs if you’re in the correct mental space for that, and 2) if you’re already into Stray Dogs, to check this out. It’s a unique aesthetic and emotionally compelling storytelling, and everyone involved should be commended for their work in extending the universe.
9.0 “Canine Chronicles” out of 10