Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bad Dog

Review by Neill McLaughlin

Bad Dog
is a collarless mongrel, kicked bleeding and disoriented from the back of a pickup onto the side of a lifeless desert road, whose wounds are cared for by a family full of spirit, compassion, and true Americana. However, despite giving the animal a third lease on life, it still finds time to chew through, piss in, crap on, and openly hump everything that ‘Ma & Pa Kent’ value. A nomadic, uncivilized creature roaming from town to town, passing on whatever it picked up along the back alleys and shady truck stops to anyone merciful enough to give the flea bitten hound asylum. The type of mangy varmint that looks up at you with those tender eyes, and despite the dirt caked fur and glass cut paws, you just can’t stop yourself from picking it up and taking it home with you.

From the open mind of writer Joe Kelly (Deadpool, Four Eyes, I Kill Giants) comes a belligerently truthful dark comedy that empowers the medium by telling a story fixed best within the pages of comic books. Best described by the author, Kelly describes Bad Dog as "channeling a lifetime of bad behavior into two misfit bounty hunters incapable of catching a break, let alone a criminal... Lou is a werewolf who despises people so much that he refuses to shift back into human form and Wendell is a vertically-challenged, gutter-mouthed ex-preacher with a hair-trigger temper." A tattered tale about anti-heroes drinking there way to rock bottom on the dusty back roads of civilization, while hunting down the ever-failing dollar, howls straight from the heart of the Gonzo-fueled American Dream. The kind of comic that makes you stand up like a patriotic rebel and beg for the forgotten freedoms of our fore fathers.

Crafting a story drowned in alcohol and self pity requires an artistic balance that keeps the reader engrossed without grossing them out with the thought of vomit oozing off the pages. Enter Diego Greco, an Argentinean artist known for advertising, erotic comics, and a loser superhero story called Dom├ęstico. With his soft brushes and enriched tones, Greco displays a style that is easy on the eyes yet comically engaging. Together, the team create a comic book that sets the mood for a bar brawl in the middle of a Don Bluth film; keeping every hurled glass bottle in focus, making every broken bone look enchanting, and polishing the toothless smiles of all ages brave enough to endure self destruction.

As you take Bad Dog out of the weekly comic grab, you see a fuzzy face full of golden brown fur, wearing Elvis shades, a white cowboy hat, and a dead cold stare. Once opened to the first page, it becomes apparent you have past far beyond the safety and sanity of so-called city limits a few exits ago. From page to page, the dialogue poetically rants like a drunken pastor slam dancing to hymns on shattered stained-glass windows, while the art gracefully shines a harmonious spectrum through each broken shard upon the floor. By the time you reach the middle of the story, you are already intoxicated by the recurring visits to dive bars and backwater saloons. If you can reach the end of the book, you will need two bottles of whiskey to cure the pounding headache where you once had a brain and the number to a back alley surgeon for an emergency liver transplant.

Bad Dog exists because, as much as we want to pretend we are ALL good people, some of us know deep down in the dank pit of our failed kidneys, that everyone is capable of both love AND destruction. That is why we all look when we drive past a car wreck; it's in our nature to observe, even when we want to poke our eyes out with olive picks. Bad Dog might not stay long with most crowds, but the few of us who welcome the disruptive truthfulness and rebellious abandonment will always have a spare room for this mongrel… Furniture and rugs be damned! And if MY carbonated ramblings haven't been enough to convince you to try a shot of this 100 proof series, you need the kind of help that only an enabler can give... When creator Joe Kelly was asked by comicbookresources.com to convince them to purchase a copy of Bad Dog in just 10 verbs, he replied,
"Drink. Shoot. Ponder. Drink. Laugh. &@%$%. Drink. Howl. Weep. Become. Aw, yeah... Artsy!"

Now THAT’S entertainment!

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