Housepets! Let Instincts Do Their Thing (Book 8), by Rick Griffin – Book Review by Fred Patten
by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Housepets! Let Instincts Do Their Thing (Book 8), by Rick Griffin
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, November 2017, trade paperback $13.95 (52 pages).
Ta-Dah! Here is the latest annual collection of the Housepets! online comic strip by Rick Griffin. Housepets! has appeared each Monday-Wednesday-Friday since June 2, 2008. It has won the Ursa Major Award for the Best Anthropomorphic Comic Strip for every year since! – for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and now 2016.
Book 8 contains the strips from June 8, 2015 to June 3, 2016; story arcs #91, “The Plot Against Spot”, to #100, “The 4 Animals You Meet In Heaven”, plus the one-off gag strips between these.
Housepets! presents the adventures of the dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and other pets of Babylon Gardens, a typical residential suburban neighborhood – in an alternate universe. The animals are larger than in our universe (but not human-sized), can talk, are usually bipedal, and address their human owners as “Mom” and “Dad”. Their status is somewhere between pets and children. Points established over the years are that humans can bequeath their belongings to their pets, who do not need a human guardian; human storekeepers are not allowed to sell catnip to cats; human police forces have an auxiliary of Police Dogs who are not all police dogs; the pets comment sardonically on how they can go naked in public but their human “parents” can’t; and – lots of other stuff.
But in Book 8, the housepets’ adventures often take them outside their suburban locale. Story arc #92, “All’s Fair, part 2”, is set in the huge back yard of the Milton ferrets’ estate, which Keene Milton has turned into a big amusement park and “Annual Foodapalooza Jamboree!”; maybe in Babylon Gardens but hardly part of a typical neighborhood scene. Arcs #93 to #95, “Housepets 5000 BC, parts 1-3”, introduce the large jackal Satau of the Merimde, Dragon’s second avatar, who gets sent from Ancient Egypt into the future and is drawn to Tarot the Pekinese dog, the demigod Dragon’s current (150th) avatar. Their attempt to send Satau home lands all of them (Satau and the dogs Peanut and Tarot, and the cats Grape, Maxwell, and Sabrina) in 5000 BC, the Neolithic Era, long before the building of the Pyramids and the Sphinx (to Max’s disappointment). There are rival kingdoms of the dogs and cats, and Grape is kidnapped by Ptah, the chief-king of the cats, to be his queen. (That’s Ptah and Satau arm-wrestling on the cover, with Grape and Peanut in the background.) #98, “Flip That Den!”, is in the forest outside Babylon Gardens, and #100, “The 4 Animals You Meet”, takes place in Heaven. Or a dream. Or somewhere.
A major event that takes place through the first half of the book is Bailey’s pregnancy, and King’s learning that he will become a father, from its beginning (“I just learned today … Bailey is pregnant.” “Oh? Who’s the father?”) to the fourteen-strip Arc #96, “Special Delivery!”, where Bailey gives birth to three puppies.
Book 8 is really for those who are familiar with the online strip. It begins with one of the “Spot (Superdog)” arcs, which are practically incomprehensible except to regular readers, and is followed by “All’s Fair, part 2” – part 1 was in Book 7. Many of the familiar characters are here, both the housepets and the forest wildlife: Peanut, Grape, Tiger (dog), King and Bailey (dogs), Duchess and Bino (dogs), Zach (rabbit), Spoo (mouse), ferrets (Keene, Pit, and Lana), Karishad (fox), Jessica (opossum), raccoons (Falstaff and Truck), the wolf family, and more; although some appear only in a single strip. Two new characters are the partners Cory (skunk) and Trinket (bird). And Housepets! fans will not want miss the appearance of Mr. Milton in Heaven (or Keene’s dream) as a ferret. (“Why are you a ferret?” “The real question is, why wouldn’t I be a ferret?”)
Book 8 presents four rows of full strips to a page in full color, as usual, with some brand-new illustrations to make story sequences come out evenly. (One of the best illustrations in the book is the fill-in picture on page 13 of Karishad painting Egyptian symbols over Satau’s eye in gold paint.) I have said before that those who are not familiar with Housepets! should start at the beginning to get familiar with the cast, but that really true with this volume. The series is: Book 1, Housepets! Are Naked All The Time; Book 2, Housepets! Hope They Don’t Get Eaten; Book 3, Housepets! Can Be Real Ladykillers; Book 4, Housepets! Are Gonna Sniff Everybody; Book 5, Housepets! Don’t Criticize Your Lovelife; Book 6, Housepets! Will Do It For Free, and Book 7, Housepets! Don’t Ask Questions. They’re all great, and they’re all still available on Amazon.com.
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