Sunday, June 20, 2010

Waiting for Trade? – Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites (hardcover)

Creative Team: Evan Dorkin (W) and Jill Thompson (A)
Price: $19.99
Available: June 23, 2010

A few years ago in the various Dark Horse “Tales of” anthology books there were some short stories of adorable pets that had to deal with ghosts and witches and the super natural. These four short comics were well received (winning Eisner Awards for Best Short Story and twice for Best Painter) and the series was continued with a four issue miniseries (which has been nominated for the Eisner awards for Best Publication for Teens and again for Best Painter). All of those stories are gathered here in a single collected volume.

These pets are your average pets, except that they live in your not so average town of Burden Hills. Creepy stuff is happening in the town and one of the old and powerful Wise Dogs recruits our heroes to help manage the evil lurking about. The stars are a group of dogs and one cat who are still learning how to deal with these strange occurrences when our mini begins. Jill Thompson describes it as Lady and the Tramp meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I feel that’s a pretty accurate description.

The writing is very well done. All of the pets have their own clear personalities which shine through in their dialogue. They all have regular dog names like Redd, Pugs, Rex, and Ace. They regularly get overwhelmed by what they are facing and have to find a way to push through and overcome without the benefit of, say, opposable thumbs. The art is gorgeous. Jill Thompson’s watercolors are amazing and beautiful and haunting in all the right ways.

But be warned: there are cute animals in this book, but it’s still a horror book. Bad things happen to our characters and not everyone makes it out unscathed. If you don’t want to see bad things happening to house pets you might want to skip this one. It’s all very tastefully done, but you should be prepared. That being said, while it is probably too dark for the little ones I think this book would be good for older kids who might be ready for a little more maturity in their comics but still like the whimsicalness of talking animals. Dark Horse suggests it for ages 14+ on their website. If you have kids, my best suggestion is to preview it to decide if it’s appropriate for them.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Dark Horse has provided the first three short stories on their website for you to preview. If you like what you read there, you’ll love the mini where they had more pages to devote to the characters and their story. And most of those early stories play a role in the mini at some point, so you feel a strong sense of continuity and repercussions. You can also preview the first 10 pages of issue one of the mini series here.

Although I have all the single issues I will most likely get the trade myself in order to collect the previous stories. The creators seem excited about doing more stories with these character in the future, but until then this collection will have to tide me over. At least until the Hellboy crossover. Words cannot describe how awesome sounding that is.

UPDATE: With the release of the trade there are two new interviews posted that I wanted to link you to!  You can read them here and here.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I think I'll definitely take a look at this one. =^-^=