cover image Good Dog

Good Dog

Graham Chaffee. Fantagraphics, $16.99 (80p) ISBN 978-1-60699-636-2

Tattoo artist by day Chaffee makes a return to form after a long absence—his last book was The Most Important Thing and Other Stories in 1995. The story of stray dog Ivan and his struggles with troubling nightmares, his unsure nomadic existence, and his desire to find a group he can fit in with is told with an assured narrative thrust and a skilled illustrative hand that wastes not one single line. Weighing the states of living as a tethered house pet like his bulldog pal Kirby against the wild freedom of living as a member of a roving pack of strays led by Sasha, a charismatic Malamute with questionable visions of tribal leadership and warrior’s glory, Ivan’s crisis easily translates into human emotions. He is the proverbial “good dog” faced with some very tough choices and his journey is compelling from start to finish. Chaffees’s art is both lyrical and dramatic when it needs to be, mixing Craig Thompson and Gilbert Hernandez. As with White Fang and Black Beauty, Chaffee goes inside the psychology of animals without over sentimentalizing and shows why the human/pet relationship is so precious for both sides. (June)