cover image Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug

Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug

Mark Newgarden, Megan Montague Cash, . . Harcourt, $12.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-205813-5

This wordless sequence of comic panels, the first in a planned Bow-Wow Books series, is an eminently charming and surreal twist on what might otherwise be just another of the dog days of summer. Garbage Pail Kids creator Newgarden and Cash (What Makes the Seasons? ) create a kind of silent feature, composing each orderly panel with a beefy black line and saturated digital colors. Bow-Wow himself, a golden-yellow terrier, has oval-dot eyes and an expressive brow that convey a broad range of emotions as he goes about his day. The action centers on his pursuit of a pesky black bug, which hops to the edge of his dog dish in the morning. With his nose to the ground and brow furrowed in concentration, Bow-Wow tracks the bug down the sidewalk where, in swift succession, gags pile up and absurdities bloom. Bow-Wow encounters a Doppelganger and the duo (as well as their respective insects) engages in an increasingly zany series of mirrored movements. Bow-Wow then meets an enormous lookalike who has been pursuing an equally oversize insect; when Bow-Wow flees this pair of behemoths, he rounds a corner to find a wild convoy of dogs sniffing after bugs. (Turning yet another corner, he is stunned to discover an array of giant insects chasing after minuscule dogs.) Newgarden and Cash use a varied layout of panels to great effect (three spreads are dedicated to close-ups of Bow-Wow's blinking disbelief as the enormous creepy-crawlies charge toward him), making this outing, which in less skilled hands might have read like a Sunday comic strip, feel enormously fresh and modern. Ages 3-7. (June)