A Sure Cure For the Blues: Mutts What Now Graphic Novel Review

Mutts by Patrick McDonnell

Mutts is one of those polite, pleasant and unassuming little comics that doesn’t get the credit it deserves because it’s not in-your-face. We’re not going to see a Mutts balloon at the Macy’s Day Parade. Mutts is a simple feel-good comic along the same lines as Ziggy, Family Circus, and Peanuts.

Mutts is drawn and written by Patrick McDonnell and has been circulated in numerous newspapers daily. The series mostly concerns a small affectionate dog named Earl and a goofy, mischievous cat named Mooch. The central cast also includes their owners: Earl’s owner is a lonely bachelor while Mooch belongs to an eccentric elderly couple. The cast is rounded out by supporting characters including a misanthropic Garfield parody and a dog who is perpetually tied on a short leash.

Mutts is inspired in many ways by George Herriman’s Krazy Kat. The drawing style is noticeably similar, and Mooch, like Krazy Kat, can’t be easily identified as either male or female. I’m not complaining–if anything, I applaud Patrick McDonnell for taking a classic as his source material.

If you like Mutts, you’ll want to check out a Mutts graphic novel. Reading one strip in the newspaper a day simply isn’t enough. Reading a large amount of Mutts though has a definite therapeutic effect, as most of the strips use a very genial sense of humor and more often than not end on positive notes. Mutts is a terrific series about love and friendship that’s perfectly acceptable as reading material for children and adults alike.

One other thing I love about Mutts is that it appears to be set in a cosmopolitan area, as most of the human characters who show up are ethnic. This is a very different direction for a newspaper comic to take, as most others involve thoroughly American characters.

Mutts is a comic that will thrill animal-lovers, as it not only features pets of all variety, but also will take the occasional time out to support the Humane Society and urges people to help save endangered species.

The artwork takes a minimalist approach that’s always charming, and is occasionally stunning. The Sunday editions feature large panels parodying well-known pieces of art, such as the portraits of Gustave Klimt and even a hilarious spoof of Action Comics #1.

If you enjoyed this review of Mutts What Now, check out my review of Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book.

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