With The Secret Life of Pets 2 coming out early next month, Titan Comics has released a comic series based on the characters and setting of the first film. The Secret Life of Pets #1 is a kids comic that focuses on different stories of almost all of the pets featured in the film. Written by Stéphane Lapuss’, writer of the Minions comic series, with art from Goum, and the English translation of the issue by Montana Kane, The Secret Life of Pets #1 is pure joy.
Being a kids’ comic, there isn’t necessarily a through-line for the story, other than watching what the lives of pets are like while humans are out at work, looking away, or just not present. Obviously, I’m not the target audience for this series, but I am a huge fan of the first film and I already have plans to see the sequel in theaters. Reading a comic set in the same world following the adorable animals from the series was the perfect remedy for my adult-onset apathy.
This issue is comprised of 21 page-long stories – in one case two-pages – that focus on an individual animal while also featuring others. As I began reading I was uncertain as to if this was supposed to be a linear narrative but by page four I realized that the creative team had cutely marked the top left corner of each story with a small image of the focus character of each story. For example, in Norman’s stories, there is an adorable mini-Norman at the top, visible above. By marking each story it allows readers to seek out their favorites among the large menagerie of stories.
As worked through each page, Lapuss’ clearly understands how to write dialogue that is both accessible to children but filled with enough humor to keep a more adult reader entertained, a balance that the film also executed well. In addition, each character reads like their animated counterparts, an important note to entertain existing fans.
One fault is that although there are over 20 individual stories, some of the themes seem repetitive, making some characters one-note, and others, like waiting for their owner at the door, we already saw in the film. That being said, the comic would make a good addition for fans of children’s animation regardless of age, due in large part to Goum’s art.
The art is whimsical, exaggerated, and cute beyond compare. As an owner of too many stuffed animals that are just chunky variations on pets, this is the animation style that brought me to the film, and now franchise, of The Secret Life of Pets and in this first issue, I was not disappointed. In fact, I honestly love this art more than the animation in the movie.
The coloring style and the faded edges of the speech bubbles, alternating between looking like chalk paint is gorgeous and adorable. The color choices themselves are inviting and warm, even when Duke is turning green. But the art and coloring aren’t the only amazing things this issue. In fact, the true star is the layout of each page. The choice of what kind of panel to put where, size, shape, all to tell a concise story is unique and does a lot to keep The Secret Life of Pets #1 feeling fresh as you run through the formulaic stories.
Overall, this issue is a great read for either those who love cute animals and the existing franchise and children alike. With art that sings and pets with personality, The Secret Life of Pets #1 is a great addition to Titan’s kids’ comics.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.