by Dave Shelton
DFC Library / David Fickling Books / Random House
Good Dog, Bad Dog has the honour of being the very first release from the new DFC library and they’ve picked a great opener in this very funny canine cop caper indeed from Dave Shelton.
Two doggy detectives patrol the mean streets of the city of Muttropolis: Kirk Bergman; short, dogged (sorry), serious, prone to Chandler-esque thinking and captions. Bergman’s got a new partner, built big, but gentle with it. And hungry, oh yes, Duncan McBoo can eat. And it’s often surprising that the eating, not to mention his quiet, thoughtful policing (and a good right fist) gets the pair of them out of many a scrape.
As a comedy book it’s only as good as the number of laughs you get from reading it – and on that Good Dog, Bad Dog scores high, Dave Shelton’s packed this with enough really bad puns, funny action and daft characters to make it really funny.
But it’s the combination of some wonderfully funny dialogue and the great pacing of Good Dog, Bad Dog that really wins the day, the pages are all full of madcap, slapstick scenes with Bergman and McBoo dashing from one clue to another in each case, all the while finding lots of great ways to raise a smile.
After Molly’s reluctance to sample the delights of MeZolith I’m pleased to be able to report that she absolutely loved the silliness of Good Dog Bad Dog, and pronounced it her favourite of the first set of DFC books:
“It’s a really funny detective doggy story, with lots of silly villains and really cool stories. I liked everyone, but my favourite character was McBoo – he’s hilariously stupid and always looking for more food!“
(“Oh goody! Dressing up!” It’s a great line from McBoo and an even funnier visual gag as payoff. From Dave Shelton’s Good Dog Bad Dog, published by The DFC Library)
This first volume sees our two canine coppers in three adventures; and right from the start it’s funny, with Bergman meeting McBoo for the very first time as he attempts to crack a robbery case. Bergman’s the moody straightman for McBoo’s bumbling, accident prone nice guy sleuth, more likely to accidentally get the result than all of Bergman’s careful investigating. But it’s a winning and funny combination of characters that starts Good Dog, Bad Dog on the right track to being a very funny comedy book indeed.
After bumbling his way around the investigation, McBoo eventually proves his worth, being in exactly the right place at the right time to crack the case – perhaps this incompetant copper is more clued up than he seems? And it always helps that he’s got a great right arm right arm:
(That’s a great last panel, I don’t know what’s funnier – the “Oh Dear” or the wonderful body language of both thumper and thumpee. From Dave Shelton’s Good Dog Bad Dog, published by The DFC Library)
From that first adventure we dash headlong into The Golden Bone Of Alexandria, a deliberately silly mystery where we get to follow the pair as they attempt to recover the fabled solid gold bone that Alexander The Great had made for his beloved, if forgetful companion. Along the way we get to meet Metropolis’ smallest Mr Big of the crime world; Wah Wah Johnson, a Chihuahua with a ridiculous number of muscle bound henchmen. Again, Shelton fills the pages with some briliantly funny characters.
And the final story really plays to Detective McBoo’s favourite thing – The Dogs’ Dinner, where a love of food and a nose for crime all help solve the kidnap of famed chef Anton Le Boof. By this third chapter Shelton obviously had his characters down just right and every single gag he attempts to pull off works ever so well. It’s a really funny ending to a very funny book.
(Again with the great facial expressions to make great visual gags, from Dave Shelton’s Good Dog Bad Dog, published by The DFC Library)
Shelton’s artwork throughout is masterful, brilliantly controlled and perfectly paced to lay out every gag just right to get the most laughs. but most of all, I found myself really enjoying the great comedy timing and some of the really funny reaction shots – McBoo’s disinterested face when poleaxing the thief, the thief’s own wonderful aside to the reader, or that great pause in the panels above when McBoo realises he’s not going to be fed this time. Throughout Good Dog, Bad Dog I kept noticing panel after panel I could have grabbed to illustrate just how good Shelton’s comedy timing is. But that’s something I’m hoping you’ll be finding out for yourselves.
All in all, Good Dog, Bad Dog works really well, it’s very funny, and the adventures are just right, always playing up the comedy, pacing everything perfectly, with Shelton’s artwork a great example of how to tell careful, controlled comedy – it’s a really fun book and well worth being the very first in the DFC Library.
Good Dog, Bad Dog is out today – March 4th.