ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Stray Dogs,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Stray Dogs #1

Stray Dogs #1 is published by Image Comics, written by Tom Fleecs, art by Trish Forstner, and colors by Brad Simpson. Sophie is a particularly jittery dog. And as she is welcomed to a new home, her anxious nature gets kicked into overdrive. But as she tries to get settled in, she makes a startling discovery. Her new owner may be something extremely dangerous. But will any of the other dogs believe her?

Unique settings or character choices can deliver something different and special. However, they require an extra bit of finesse in their delivery. This is, of course, due to the aforementioned uniqueness itself. As the story promises to play out in a way that has not been experienced before, the reader has no preconceived notion of things like motives, end goals, or what the likely conflicts will even be. Due to this, there is a higher requirement of faith on the reader’s part to see where this wild unknown will take them, which is difficult. And often even more so in the piecemeal story delivery of a monthly comic book. Stray Dogs #1 asks readers to take this walk into the unknown, as it introduces Sophie, the dog, and her new living arrangement to them.

When Sophie first arrives at her new home, she receives a welcome from the numerous dogs living ethere. Her sizable pack features a hodgepodge of breeds, with an equally diverse number of personalities. As ,her fellow canines give her the tour of her new home she can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong. It’s only after her tour is concluded and she has a run in again with her new owner that she realizes he might be a killer. She immediately tries to warn her fellow dogs, but as they have lived in the house for some time and received only the best of care, they find it hard to believe. And Sophie soon finds her concerns dismissed.

This is where Stray Dogs #1’s plot loses me. As the dogs only speak when the human isn’t present, I’m assuming the standard “dogs can only talk to other dogs” rule applies. If that pans out to be true, I’m not sure where this comic is going. If the dogs discover that Sophie’s concerns are true and they run away, what then? Will the owner go after them? And even if he does, I can think of a reason he would decide to kill them. It’s not like they are going to turn him in. Will the dogs decide to turn on him in some sort of bloody confrontation? Again, it seems like a weird jump in logic.

This overriding sense of confusion is not a great feeling to walk away from a book with. Would I want to pick up the following issue if I couldn’t even grasp where this story will attempt to go, never mind if it’ll succeed in delivering it? I’m not sure. This story might’ve been much better served being released in a complete graphic novel format.

Besides my awkward feelings about the overall concept, Stray Dogs #1 is filled with a solid ensemble cast of characters. We only get to really meet a couple of the dogs, but each one certainly feels like they could create plenty of good personality contrasts as the story moves forward.

Throughout thstory, the art work delivers a classic style that feels like any number of children’s animated movies. If the story goes to the sinister places that seem likely, this could create a unique contrast between the visuals and the plot itself. This classic animation vibe is further reinforced by the colorwork, as it strives to breathe a little extra life into Sophie’s world.

Rounding out the visual presentation is a solid display of letter work. The story is laid out clearly, and I really like the choice to omit the standard black borders from the dialogue boxes. I’m not sure why, but it just seems to help the lettering fit with the vibe the rest of the visual presentation is going for.

When all is said and done, Stray Dogs #1 delivers an interesting, if perplexing, beginning to its tale. Where it plans to go from here is totally beyond me, but that promise of the unknown may be just what someone looking for something new to read might be thirsting for.

Stray Dogs #1 is available on February 17th, wherever comics are sold.

Stray Dogs #1
3.5

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Stray Dogs #1 delivers an interesting, if perplexing, beginning to its tale. Where it plans to go from here is totally beyond me, but that promise of the unknown may be just what someone looking for something new to read might be thirsting for.