A story about a dog who gets sent to prison but whenever he gets nervous all he sees are 1950’s styled animated characters that sing and dance? Okay? I’ll bite. And, though it lacks some basic plot adhesion, Boom! Studio’s Kennel Block Blues #1 is a rather entertaining jail-house-romp.
Oliver is the new dog on the block. The Jackson State Kennel prison block, that is. And he does not deserve to be there. Or so he says. Oliver is naive, imaginative and confused. He doesn’t understand that it is a cat versus dog world and the only way to survive is to stay, be a good dog and to keep his tail between his legs. And, to top it off, this pup doesn’t take suggestion easily. So instead of keeping to his own, he turns to the only solution he knows and accepts: imagination! Yet his positive attitude and passive mentality may only drag him deeper into the dog house.
When the preview pages of Kennel Block Blues #1 hit shelves in the December PREVIEWSworld catalog, I have to admit, I was a little skeptical. A story where a humanoid-dog, who cannot accept his current personal state, thus make believes all the evils of the prison system are nothing more than a classic cartoon musical? Seems a little weird?! But Ryan Ferrier (D4ve) and Daniel Bayliss’s (Translucid) new title was surprisingly witty and incredibly immersive.
Ferrier has an impressive writing history under his belt with titles like D4ve and Curb Stomp. And he does not hold back the punches with Kennel Block Blues. It is lighthearted, easy flowing, yet, has just enough dark undertones to create intrigue. The first issue of this four issue miniseries takes us through day one of Oliver’s transition into the kennel-system. Other than a very twisted, splash-paged explanation of the Jackson hierarchy (and main plot), the story does not stall and keeps you interested till the final page. And the sing-songing? It is actually highly entertaining!
Bayliss seems to be having fun with the art of this animal tale. His transitions between Oliver’s imagination and the real world do not only keep the story light but also progressing. Oliver does not simply see the world as a big musical but the story continues through his eyes, panel-to-panel. One moment Oliver is dancing on the table while angry prison-mates grab at his feet. The next they are jumping atop the table with him, not to pull him down, but to sing and dance alongside him. The multiple layers of art demonstrate the control Bayliss has in his story telling, and it is incredibly fun to experience.
Adam Metcalfe’s colors are a joy. Through the dark of the prison and all its terrifying inner-workings, the bright colors of animated puppies and kitties shine through. Metcalfe’s pastels of the imagination almost take you back to your childhood when you watched Mickey and Minnie Mouse playing music with living instruments. While the grays and blues of the prison guide you through Oliver’s realization that not everything can be bright and sparkly. A well made match with Bayliss’s imagery.
Kennel Block Blues is a dark comedy that will keep you invested from beginning to end. It has dogs, cats, classic cartoon musical numbers and prison fights. Minus a few oddly explained plot points, this new title from Boom! Studios will have you humming along with Oliver and all his new jail-house-friends.
Make sure to stop by your local comics retailer and pick up Kennel Block Blues #1 (of 4).