cover image Dog Days

Dog Days

Cyprien Mathieu, Remy Benjamin, and Oliver Perret, trans. from the French by Benjamin Croze. Humanoids, $17.99 (120p) ISBN 978-1-64337-764-3

A family vacation turns into a slow-burning horror show in this graphic novel with the vibe of a creepy arthouse short. Hermione, the family dog, goes missing and father François’s attempts to appease his distraught youngest son, Baptiste, quickly backfire. He finds Hermione’s body, the likely result of being hit by a car, but tries to tie the dog’s death to a string of canine poisonings currently rocking the small seaside town of Ramiolles. François’s older son and wife, who is delayed back in their home city by work, belittle him; and his failed attempt to maintain Baptiste’s affection plays as a desperate bid to hold onto his own childhood innocence—and a failure to step into the role of patriarch. This festering mood piece painted in brooding earth tones is full of suspicious glances from townsfolk who aren’t as charming as they first seem. The art, lithe pen and watercolors, shows cunning use of shadows and shading. In a flight of fancy near the story’s dramatic culmination, François pleads guilty to “my mediocre existence... the stupidity of humans who pretend they’re happy” and imagines himself crucified. The comic’s creators seem refreshingly ambivalent about their protagonist’s struggles, and their tale takes the suburban angst genre to enjoyably strange places.[em] (May) [/em]