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September 23, 2009

Indy Gems: Beasts of Burden

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Beasts of Burdenburden1

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Writer: Evan Dorkin

Artist: Jill Thompson

Letters: Jason Arthur

For the second installment of Indy Gems, I have a great little mini series for you. Beasts of Burden from Dark Horse is a well written, well drawn, engrossing tale; and it’s only the first issue!

dorkThis story is written by Evan Dorkin, who is an amazing writer and has some other great books out there. Check out his other titles: Dork, Hectic Planet, Wild Knights, Predator Big Game, Pirate Corps, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book, Captain America: Red, White & Blue, and my favorite, Milk & Cheese. He has also dome some sporadic work for both Marvel and DC, and he has even penned some Simpsons comics for Bongo.

The artwork is this title is absolutely beautiful; itswampthing159 looks like it’s done in watercolor. The first page is a picture of an old rustic two story cottage, surrounded by trees. A lush green yard, and a sign in front with a wagon wheel resting against it. Jill Thompson has done a terrific job of capturing expressions on the faces of animals, which I’m pretty sure isn’t an easy thing to do. Jill has worked with Evan before, on Bizarro Comics! Jill has been working on comics since the mid 80s. She did  work for Comico, Now, First, Just Imagine, and Aardvark-Vanaheim back in those days. In the 90s she did a run on Wonder Woman for DC. She has also worked on Sandman, Black Orchid, Badger, Swamp Thing, Scary Godmother, Invisibles, Seekers Into Mystery, and many other titles.

***Spoilers Follow, brief summary of story.***

First thing I should tell you about this title is that it’s about cats and dogs; well cats and dogs that can talk, at least amongst themselves. No need to worry though, this is no Disney story. The characters are Red, Rex, Pug, Ace, Jack, Pee-Wee, and Miranda for the Dogs. The cats are Orphan, Fluffy, and Holstein. I’m not sure yet how all these animals know each other, but it appears that they belong to a  secret society of animals.

This story starts off with Rex, Pugs, and an unnamed dog arriving at the Green Thumb nursery, where Holstein, Fluffy, Pee-Wee, and Red live. Shortly after arriving it begins to rain frogs, which causes Pugs to say, “ Oh crap. Looks like stupid’s back in season….” Which leads me to believe that these animals are exposed to the paranormal on a regular basis. While still in shock from the amphibian assault, our heroes notice the frogs are eating each other. After seeing this, Rex and his two companions run to Ace’s yard, where he is chained up. Ace is there with Miranda and Orphan, who are discussing a fight that Ace was in recently, one in which he apparently lost a younger friend or relative. Rex and the crew explain what has happened at the Green Thumb, which has caught Miranda’s attention.

By the time everyone makes it back to Green Thumb all the frogs are gone! Red explains that the frogs headed off into the woods with Pee-Wee yapping after them like a puppy. Everyone but Holstein and Ace head into the woods looking for Pee-Wee, and before long they find his collar. After they split into three groups, they find some grisly remains of some woodland creatures. Rex, Orphan, and Fluffy find where the frogs went, and Fluffy finds out where Pee-Wee went by joining him in the stomach of a giant frog.

Miranda shows up and attempts to cast a spell, which has no affect on the frog. OK I know what you are thinking: dogs casting spells, what are you smoking? I really have no explanation for this yet, but just stay with me here. Ace shows up after breaking his chain, and rescues Miranda. The frog is surprised with how strong Ace is. Ace, with all the dogs’ help, is able to grab onto the frog’s tongue and pull the frog inside out.

Upon inspecting the remains, everyone realizes the giant frog is made up of all the small frogs. An unnamed elder dog shows up and explains it was an aggregate demon, and he asks everyone to join Miranda as junior apprentices. He explains that something is wrong in Burden Hill, and it is attracting more malevolent forces to them. So it appears that these animals are in a constant struggle with the forces of evil, and there is a secret order of house pets that keep evil forces from gaining a foothold in our world. I haven’t seen any people yet, so I’m not sure how or if they play into anything. The dialogue is well written and fast paced, and you forget you are reading about animals quickly!

****End Spoilers****

This story was a great read and I’m positive the four issue mini will be amazing once everything is in full swing. I know it sounds weird and cheesy, but you should pick this one up. Once you get past the fact that the main characters are animals and accept it, you will see how well-written this story is. Then you will notice the art work and just how good it looks. If you want a little more proof there is an e-comic prequel on the Dark Horse website.

Click here to check it out!

Scott Andrews

scott@comicattack.net

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7 Comments



  1. Dear god. I was wondering what this was. I was tempted to pick it up b/c of the cover. Now I’ll be sure to read it in the future! XD



  2. Props go out to Jill…drawing four legged animals is damn hard, and doing a book with several….aggggggggggg!



  3. I checked it out too. It was definitely different and enjoyable! My only beef with it was the cast was enormous and difficult to keep track of right off the bat; but it’s a minor grievance as the story was original and interesting.



  4. Evan Dorkin is one of my favorite writers, so I couldn’t help but pick this one up. I loved it and can’t wait till the next issue. I would suggest picking up some other titles by Dorkin. Milk & Cheese is one of my favorites.



  5. Yeah there are a ton of characters and not all of the names are given right away, but it has 3 more issues to explain things.


  6. Billy

    So this isnt about a Rolling Stones comic?



  7. […] Publication for Teens Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson (Dark […]



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