Sunday, May 1, 2011

I recommend: Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites

Find this graphic novel at: [Amazon] [Borders] [Barnes & Noble]

Beasts of Burden is your typical paranormal mystery story: A ragtag bunch of characters use magic to track down and put a stop to the terrifying troubles haunting their small town, most of which go unnoticed by the average citizen.

Oh, yeah - and the main characters are all dogs, plus a cat or two.

With this, Beasts of Burden goes from "great mystery comic" to "great mystery comic with a clever premise." Anyone who's ever wondered what pets get up to when their owners aren't looking will get a kick out of the canine culture dreamed up by writer Evan Dorkin (though, given the sometimes copious amounts of _____-on-dog violence, I hesitate to call it "a perfect read for animal lovers.")

The whole project is held together by Jill Thompson's gorgeous painted artwork. Each panel has a carefully chosen color scheme, and she is a master of giving each character recognizable expressions without ever losing their animal qualities.

Curious readers can check out this preview, featuring three Beasts of Burden short stories as they originally appeared in publisher Dark Horse's anthologies.

A note to parents and teachers: While kids love talking-animal stories, Beasts of Burden is not appropriate for young children. Adults and older teens can probably put up with the violence (on-page and off) and occasionally very unhappy endings, but younger readers are better off with tamer mystery-solving pups like Scooby-Doo.

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