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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Comic Review: Battlepug: Vol 2 - This Savage Bone by Mike Norton

Reviewed by Dani Harper, Fiona the Pug and Toby the Assistant Pug

BATTLEPUG: Vol. 2 - This Savage Bone
Writer and Artist: Mike Norton
Colorist: Allen Passalaqua
Genre: Still no genre for pugs. Someone should fix that… Meanwhile, you’ll find it under Humor, Fantasy, and Action/Adventure
Publisher: Dark Horse
Publication Date: First edition release is August 7, 2013
Format:FC, 72 Pages; HC, 12" x 8.5"

Age range:8
When the Warrior was just a child, the beast mage Catwulf destroyed his village. Since then, the Warrior has become strong, and he will have his vengeance! Joined by his trusty steed and friend Battlepug, a crazy loon, elite warrior Black Sasha, and a foulmouthed child mage named Bryony, the warrior will not be denied revenge, but is the group ready to meet one of the most powerful mages in the world in battle?

* Mike Norton (artist on the hit Revival)!

* Never-before-seen material in a handsome hardcover collection.

“There are some concepts that are just so ‘wrong’ that they wrap around to ‘right’.”—Stumptown Trade Review

“Yeah, it’s Conan on a pug. And it is awesome.”—Stumptown Trade Review

DANI HARPER: THIS SAVAGE BONE is a collection of the second year of BATTLEPUG webcomics by writer and artist Mike Norton. 

FIONA THE PUG: We reviewed Volume 1, BLOOD AND DROOL* too. Personally, I think having a genuine pug’s point of view is the key to an outstanding critique.

TOBY THE ASSISTANT PUG: I wanna review this book too! You guys have all the fun.

FIONA THE PUG: Who let him in? I left him shredding papers for you in your office.

DANI HARPER: I said he could come – Battlepug is his hero! He even has the t-shirt.

FIONA THE PUG: Humph. Well, I can’t argue that Battlepug IS one hot hunka burning pug. And that’s not MY t-shirt is it? *runs to check the glass collector’s case in her kennel*

DANI HARPER: A little background is required here, just in case the reader isn't familiar with the first book. The hero of the story is actually The Kinmundian, a barbarian who lives for vengeance. As a child, his entire village was destroyed by a giant baby seal commanded by the evil villain, Catwulf. This has left the big frowning warrior with a distaste for animals in general, and big ones in particular.

TOBY THE ASSISTANT PUG: But then the giant pug saved his life!

DANI HARPER: And loyally refused to leave his side. So what else could the Kindmundian do but adopt him as his trusty (but slobbery) steed and continue on his quest?

FIONA THE PUG*returns wearing a Battlepug t-shirt* I’m not sure a pug should be used as a steed. I mean, wouldn’t PETA have something to say about that?

TOBY THE ASSISTANT PUG: But he’s really big and strong, way faster than any horse, and besides, he likes to be a steed, so it’s a special case. I want to be a steed when I grow up.

FIONA THE PUG: You wouldn’t make it as an eggplant.


FIONA THE PUG: Sorry, Toby. You would totally make a great beast of burden – er, I mean a battle beast.

TOBY THE ASSISTANT PUG*wags tail and smiles*

DANI HARPER: In the beginning, the Kinmundian is determined to hunt down Catwulf on his own, but as time goes on, he reluctantly acquires companions. In the first book, the warrior is not only joined by the giant pug, but by “Scribbly”, an old man of questionable sanity. Scribbly plays a major role in explaining things since the Kinmundian says little and the pug says nothing except “BRAP, BRAP”, “snort” and other assorted noises.

FIONA THE PUG: Ha. Shows how much you know. Pugs have a very complex system of language, largely based on subtle body signals.

TOBY THE ASSISTANT PUG*farts and looks around to see where the noise came from*

DANI HARPER: I do NOT want a translation of that! *takes laptop to the far side of the room* 

As I was trying to say, there are other characters in the book. Scribbly was in the first book, but we should make mention of the fact that the entire story in both books is being narrated by Molly, a voluptuous woman wearing nothing but henna tattoos. She lives in a tower that apparently has no door (and leaving the reader to wonder what HER story is). A sarcastic French Bulldog, Colfax, and a sweet-natured regular-sized pug, Mingo, are her only companions and provide the captive audience for her continuing saga of the Kinmundian—

TOBY THE ASSISTANT PUG: And the Battlepug! Don’t forget him!

FIONA THE PUG: Battlepug is so brave! In Book Two, he gets a lot more opportunities to show off his pugly courage.

DANI HARPER: He certainly does. A lot of the charm of the first book was the “you’ve got to be kidding” surprise of the whole thing. I was afraid that the writer would have trouble maintaining that. But no, the brilliant absurdity continues as the barbarian’s quest is confronted by bizarre and dangerous obstacles at every turn. And yes, it’s usually the brave and noble pug who comes running to the rescue, much to the warrior’s chagrin. A quote from the book:

Scribbly: “How many times has that mutt saved us now?”

The Kinmundian: “Too many.”

DANI HARPER: This book picks up exactly where the last one left off, without missing a beat (it IS a series, after all), and the exasperated Kinmundian simply can’t catch a break and go questing for revenge in peace. Instead, he picks up two more unwanted allies, a foul-mouthed little girl named Bryony (who is actually a powerful mage), and her protector, an outcast warrior named Black Sasha. Bryony falls in love with the giant pug—

FIONA THE PUG: Who wouldn’t? He’s so totally droolworthy!

DANI HARPER: -- and promptly names him “Sprinkles”.

TOBY THE ASSISTANT PUG: I object! Battlepug’s a superhero, and you can’t give a superhero a silly girly name like Sprinkles! That’s like calling the Incredible Hulk “Cupcake”.

FIONA THE PUG: Snort! You’re lucky Dani changed your name when she adopted you. It was a doozy!

DANI HARPER: Break it up, you two!

Anyway, the visual quality of both the webcomic and the book remain high. It’s beautifully colored and there’s a lot of originality in the layout -- the comic panels are arranged with variety and style, yet remain easy to follow. So the storyline, the visuals, the great characters – all are maintained in Book Two.

TOBY THE ASSISTANT PUG: But Colfax is still cranky all the time, and really mean to Mingo the Pug. Colfax hurts his pugly feelings a lot, and that hurts MY feelings. I wish the writer would change that.

FIONA THE PUG: I can’t believe I’m agreeing with Toby, but me too. You should send a letter to the writer.

DANI HARPER: I think that Colfax is cranky because he keeps hoping for the story to contain “flaming devil monsters who spit fire AND carry flaming machetes”, and so far, those are the only things that haven’t shown up. He probably likes Mingo very much underneath, just like you secretly care about Toby, Fiona. It’s like, well, brothers and sisters. They bicker a lot, but they've got each other’s backs when the chips are down.

TOBY THE ASSISTANT PUG: Are there chips? I want some.

FIONA THE PUG: Everyone should know how Mike Norton’s pugs helped him come up with this brilliant story. Tell that part!

DANI HARPER: Right. The preface to THIS SAVAGE BONE contains a few words from Eric Powell:

“Mike drew a bunch of superhero books for Marvel and DC then. Good stuff. But then fate stepped in. The moment Mike came up with his Eisner Award–winning webcomic, Battlepug, is now a legendary story.

As the knowledgeable now tell, it was on Easter Sunday in a Thai food joint called the Uncomfortable Elephant. Mike, who is an excessive pug hoarder, was treating his gaggle of little monkey-faced dogs to some spicy fried pork dumplings when all of a sudden he threw the table across the room and screamed, “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! A BARBARIAN’S FIGHTING PUG!”

…No one knows what specifically triggered the image of a warrior astride a battlepug in Norton’s huge noggin, but I believe it was the ferocity with which his unreasonable number of dogs were going at those dumplings…

“The rest is now history. Mike took his epic to the web and, using a sense of humor only matched by his superb talent as an artist, produced the strip we all know and love today.”
TOBY THE ASSISTANT PUG: Can we have spicy fried pork dumplings too?

FIONA THE PUG: I second that idea! Who knows, if you fed us good stuff like that, maybe it would inspire your writing, Dani. Think of it – if you would just write about pugs instead of wolves and shapeshifters, then you’d have an instant bestseller!

DANI HARPER: I’ll take that under advisement. *rolls eyes when pugs aren’t looking*

As far as the rating goes, I very nearly took one off for the giant spider attack (ICK!), but Toby and Fiona convinced me that would demonstrate “personal prejudice unbecoming a reviewer”. And I have to admit, the creepy crawly scene provided what is arguably the best line of the book: 

“Okay, who’s the damn fool who dropped a giant dead spider on my ass?!”

Anyways, I’m giving BATTLEPUG, Volume 2, THIS SAVAGE BONE four ginormous village-eating sheep.

* * * * Author Dani Harper writes paranormal fantasy. She is “helped” by Fiona the Pug, her executive secretary, and Toby, who has recently graduated from apprentice to “assistant pug”.
Fiona and Toby

1 comment:

  1. Wowzer what wonderful pugly fun! Thank you Dani, Fiona, and Toby for taking the time and effort to share this very entertaining review with us today. This series looks like it might just be pugaliciously grin-worthy. Not so sure about the age rating of 8 (unless I am misunderstanding the meaning, which happens to this nutbunny brain often), but as I no longer have any 8-year-olds in the household it is not a worry for me LOL