Dead Dog’s Bite #1 begins a new Dark Horse series on March 3. With full creative duties going to Tyler Boss, this series opens on the relatable dramedy of adolescence.
Dead Dog’s Bite #1 Captures Awkward Adolescence
Tyler Boss gives Dead Dog’s Bite #1 a substance by evoking a sense of adolescent self-consciousness. Being self-conscious is a state that readers can find very humanizing; it’s one of the few ways to display character flaws without being too jerkish. It’s what makes Joe’s sass bearable as she’s a rocky stage of transition in life; she’s 18, on medication, and her best friend is missing. It’s what makes the semi-confrontational conversations she has with a cop and her best friend’s boyfriend easier. Joe’s one of those flawed yet empathetic people you can’t help but relate with.
That’s all especially relevant with how Joe’s town of Pendermills is very… odd, to say the least. The townsfolk are quirky as they can be, like the mayor whose cowboy cosplay at a search party can feel insulting. So why does it feel okay to the point of a town elder joining in on it? Probably because they just want to raise morale in an awkward fashion.
Then there’s someone who stands out among everyone in Dead Dog’s Bite #1, a narrator straight out of the Twilight Zone. From beginning to end, he’s the one who instills the reader’s interest in everything by putting them in the sense of self-consciousness. This makes the reader feel like they’re part of the town by interacting with this narrator.
Presenting The Anxiety
Throughout Dead Dog’s Bite #1, Boss presents every page with a sense of control and lack of it. The first pages have 9-panel grids that have the narrator catch the reader’s interest. Coming out of a manhole then following up with a disclosure certainly does that. The more important piece comes from how consistent the next page is until the last panel vanishes. It says time ran out after going over some rules with the reader needing to figure it out as they go.
Most of the pages follow the grid formats for similar acts of control and immersion. Most of them go for mixing between the formats of each grid. A 3-panel grid combines with a 9 panel to act like comic strips. Each row tells a story like Joe entering a story, and a newspaper is in the corner, foreshadowing a later event in the issue.
In juxtaposition, Joe’s actions control the moments the reader sees. So when the grids break apart the last row, Joe loses her control. The rest of the page continues with this as Joe interacts with people. Anytime she shares screen time with someone, they and Joe cause the panels to break down further. One page features a panel where Joe and her best friend’s boyfriend, Allen, say the same word as they share control of that moment.
Standing out the most in Dead Dog’s Bite #1 is Boss’s implementation of unique dialogue between each character. Joe speaks defensively with a dry wit that hides thoughts of confusion expressed in a ball of lines. She wants to get control of her life by using her words to take power out of confrontations but has trouble getting everything together.
Compare this to the narrator, who is practically an extension of the narrative itself. He constantly has the reader’s attention to keep control, especially with how his word balloons arrange. The geometry they arrange in is neat and follows an easy pattern. Then he gives exposition in the form of an allegorical story. Unlike Joe, the narrator retains control and rarely seems to get thrown off.
Get On Dead Dog’s Bite #1
Dead Dog’s Bite #1 begins a phenomenal take on surreal towns like Twin Peaks by capturing the subjectivity of self-consciousness. Going into adulthood is a difficult thing to depict without alienation. It’s because it’s a period that is a spectrum of feelings ranging from funny to outright uncomfortable. Going onto a state of mood that fluxes between those feelings just happen to be the proper depiction. Boss takes on an unenviable task and blows everyone’s minds away with how he presents this phase.