Thursday, January 3, 2008

A dog day (lazy Sunday) afternoon

It’s the start of the New Year and while people fret and fuss and think of New Year’s resolutions, I think back to 1996. The Chicago Bulls were in the midst of a 72-10 regular season run that ended in an NBA championship. But at the turn of 1995, I felt crushed. Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson’s humorous comic strip about a boy and his hyper-active imagination that brought to life his stuffed tiger came to an end in the 31st of December 1995.

I was of course already out of school and working in advertising agencies, but it was an end of a hitherto unannounced age of innocence for me. I had every collected edition of every Calvin & Hobbes book and they were akin to photo albums of an overzealous youth fueled by sugar-powered cereals and comic book fantasies. It’s rare that a strip moves me enough to write an actual story about it but I did. Only my treatise took the character of Calvin several years later as he moved into puberty while retaining his warped imagination. A select few people have read and seen the artwork. Maybe soon we’ll be putting this up for public viewing although it was written a decade ago.

Soon after that I migrated to Frank Cho’s Liberty Meadows and as much as I liked it, it did not enthrall me like Watterson’s figments of imagination. That is until about several years later when I picked up Patrick McDonnell’s Mutts.

Mutts is a poignant look at love, friendship, animal and pet advocacy, and zest for life through the central characters Ozzie who is the guardian of his pet dog Earl and cat Mooch (based on his real life pets Earl, his late-Jack Russell and Mee Mow). The New Yorker-ish style of McDonnell who has also contributed illustrations to Sports Illustrated, Time, and Reader’s Digest has an enchanting effect on the reader. The stories are nothing smart-ass and overly philosophical. Instead they’re funny, simple, and perhaps more important to overgrown kids like me, it brings a smile to my lips.

I left my few collected editions in New Jersey and did feel bad about leaving them behind. So imagine my pleasant surprise when I got a couple of Mutts collections for Christmas. It brought a smile to this overgrown kid’s lips and inspired me again. In fact, my dog, Lougee and I have those funny owner-pet adventures like Patrick McDonnell and Earl. The coincidence has not been lost on me and I've tried documenting it in youtube. Who knows, there's maybe a story in it soon.

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