God the Dyslexic Dog #1, July 2004, Bliss On Tap Publishing
writers: Brian and Philip Phillipson
artist: Alex Nino
lettering & book design: Dan Nakrosis
Snoopy. Krypto. Marmaduke. Now, God the Dyslexic Dog. Man's best friend is no stranger to comics, either.
Since I phoned in yesterday's post (and I'll have to review another Grist book later this year to really do him justice), I took my time with this one, just as I expressed I should earlier last week. I read this issue, another Small Press freebie from the Con, late this morning and mulled it over during the course of the day, occasionally flipping through it for a reminder of its highlights. God the Dyslexic Dog is about, you guessed it, a dog, apparently the pet of the "primordial philosopher" that creates mankind and his subsequent mythologies. Writers Brian and Philip Phillipson do a decent job streamlining most of humanity's prominent legends into one worldwide history, featuring the Greeks, Egyptians, and the Mayans mostly. As the story unfolds, the focus falls upon Bacchus (otherwise known as Dionysus) and his "experiments with grapes," or, in layman's terms, the advent of booze. Bacchus takes advantage of a cultural diversion to entice Pandora into opening her box, thereby ushering in an age of reason that ultimately vanquishes the era of the gods. Speaking of gods, God the Dyslexic Dog bears witness to this cosmic drama and futilely attempts to stop Bacchus. Some best friend!
Thousands, maybe millions, of years later. Pavlov's lab. God has survived history and found himself among the drunken scientist’s salivating hounds, yet despite his hunger, he cannot muster even a drop of drool. The last we see of him this issue, God is under Pavlov's angry fist; I wonder if God's aversion to Pavlov's experiment implies that the deistic dog is immune to mankind's "rebellious" science. Either way, the story ends with a broadcast of the Art Tinker radio show (a nice poke at the real life late night Art Bell radio show, dedicated to investigating real life X-Files), and an allusion that the end of the world is near by a rise in animal attacks. Something tells me God will be fetching our slippers, paper, and salvation in subsequent issues.
I must admit, based on this book's title alone, I assumed this series was about a child and his supernatural dog, romping through spiritual adventures with insightful glee and folly. Although we are introduced to a child at the end of the issue that will undoubtedly play a large role later in the story, this introductory installment was, obviously, nothing like that. This "buddy movie" mentality with animal oriented stories is a side effect of successful series like Herobear and the Kid and Pigtale. The assumption is an animal protagonist either can't carry a story by itself or needs a human companion to relate more easily with the audience. Whether or not God the Dyslexic Dog proves this insight inaccurate, time will tell.
The art of Alex Nino is extremely intricate and at times extremely excellent. His ability to capture the celestial scope of this story's narrative is impressive, although many of his pages appear too busy and unfortunately indecipherable. With just a little variation in the thickness of his ink stroke, his most detail-oriented panels would have the depth necessary to make a real impact. As is, Nino is an incredibly talented artist; anyone that can make a dog look as expressive as he does deserves some respect.
I was surprised that the Phillipson brothers (I assume they're brothers), as the creators of this series, didn’t include the usual essay at the end of the issue. Their narration deftly described the concepts they wanted to establish, and despite the grandiose nature of their material, the text was sophisticated without getting too scholarly, or in other words, boring. I was hoping to read a more colloquial take on the series, a diatribe about their inspiration or motivation for writing such a story. I hope it’s more than something like, "We were playing Boggle one day and realized that 'god' spelled backward is 'dog' and thought that would make a good comic book." Establishing a character like this takes some skill. I mentioned Snoopy and Krypto; this is admirable company to keep. And with a name like God, you really can't roll over after one issue. I guess I’ll check on the book's status at next year's Con. Like this very issue, you can't always judge a story by its beginnings.