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   "Good Dog, Bad Dog" by Dave Shelton - the inaugral release from The DFC Library
   Noir Ha-Ha    (08.06.10)


   My review was seriously late. I felt the editor's eyes frowning over
   my shoulder, which put the wind up me when I remembered, I had
   no editor. And no deadline, save for the one I gave myself.
   Toonhound had always been one a one-pup show. It was just
   the way I liked it. No one else's nose in the dinner bowl. I got
   all the kibbles for myself. Still, I'd made a real dog's dinner of
   things as I grappled with the best way of approaching my latest
   book review. Good Dog, Bad Dog by Dave Shelton was a crime
   noir comic book anthology, starring a pair of dawgie detectives
   from the pages of "The DFC". It demanded a different approach.
   Something off the leash. But how to go about it?

   At last, inspiration struck me like a disgruntled dame. Take your
   cue from Sam Spade, just like Mr Shelton. Add some noir-ha-ha.
   Grab his shovel and don't stop digging you've dug a hole deep
   enough to bury the corpse of your lame endeavours...

   Erm. But all joking aside, this review is seriously late. "Good Dog,
   Bad Dog" was actually the inaugural DFC Library release that
   hit stores before Mezolith, at the tail end of March.

   Yes, March.

   Anywho, we've got there at last, and we're happy to report that
   "Good Dog, Bad Dog" is a rollicking good 64-page read. Mr Shelton
   drops us in to the heart of a crime-riddled Muttropolis, where
   hard-boiled detective Kirk Bergman and his new milkshaking-loving,
   clown-footed partner McBoo tackle a host of shady crooks,
   gangsters and underworld bad guys. There are three adventures
   in this compilation, so we get to see Bergman and McBoo thwarting
   a pair of dastardly bank robbers, retrieving a precious golden bone,
   and tracking down a missing muff-faced chef. And there are actually
   plenty of noir ha-ha's to be had (and milkshakes) as they confront
   the canine underworld and take the bad guys to task. There's
   lashings of well-timed slapstick here - it's like a Dogsy Malone
   at times - and there's a three-panel backstory behind that Lost
   Bone of Alexandria that's worth the RRP all on its own...

   If you've got this far and you don't have a clue what we're talking
   about when we refer to this bizarre DFC thingy, I'll remind you
   that "The DFC" was a subscription-based comic weekly put
   together by David Fickling, of David Fickling Books. The
   comic only ran for 43 issues, but it was rather well-reviewed and
   the contributors were promised another bite at that big comic
   cherry when Mr Fickling declared his desire to repackage their
   strips as an ongoing series of library editions, in the hopes of
   enticing UK readers into long-form comics, like their cousins
   on the Continent who've been doing that kind of thing for
   decades ....

   Dave Shelton and his Fickling associates Kate Brown (Spider
   Moon) and Ben Haggarty (Mezolith ) were interviewed at Panel
   Borders, around the time of the launch, and it's fascinating to
   hear that "Good Dog, Bad Dog" wasn't actually Dave Shelton's
   first-choice comic strip for "The DFC". He had originally pitched
   three ideas for the gig. Two were dropped pretty quickly, but
   one had already been signed up when fate intervened. "The
   Guardian" wanted to run a series of DFC strips concurrently
   in their weekend editions, and his strip didn't fit the format, so
   he was encouraged at very short notice to come up with a new
   idea. He thus turned to an old sketchbook for inspiration
   (Dave does like his sketchbooks), where he'd written down
   the titular phrase. It was something he'd noted whilst living in
   a house in which the landlady had two dogs, one of which he
   liked and one he didn't.

   So now he had a title, and a thought that something spoofing all
   those classic film noirs might be fun. When it was accepted, he
   was left to develop a whole new strip on the fly - something he
   believes has served him very well, because he's been able to
   avoid the pitfall of labouring too much over a concept. And he's
   quite right because the finished strip is very nimble on its feet,
   unlike poor old McBoo!

   If you're looking for something fun and frivolous for a younger reader,
   maybe a youngster who's recently discovered the joys of Asterix
   or Tintin, then you should steer them to Muttropolis, and indeed,
   David Fickling's library of anthologies are just the ticket for turning
   young eyes towards a wonderful world of comics that doesn't
   consist of angst-ridden superheroes, or great corseted girls with
   guns. You know, there's a whole pack of alternative comic
   creators out there, just waiting to have their tummies tickled...
                                      More: The DFC Library
 Dave Shelton


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