What I was hoping for in issue #1 of Kennel Block Blues, I get in issue #2.
The first issue introduced us to the anthromorphic Oliver, a dog who finds himself in a prison-like kennel with numerous inmates. Oliver dips in and out of strange visions as if he’s the lead in his own musical. Whenever things get rough, he breaks out into song as his reality breaks. It’s a fun premise that seemed to lack bite. (Pun not intended.)
Now in issue two, with the rival cat and dog gangs vying for power, one dog has had it and feels the only thing to do is escape. Oliver and a few others decide to go along with it. All Oliver wants to do is get home to his humans. As they get closer and closer to the way out, the comic edges into darker and darker territory, and the visions gets a little more twisted.
It wasn’t all that long ago I saw an animated film from the creators of Watership Down called Plague Dogs. It was about two dogs escaping from a scientific lab. They had been experimented on with, you guessed it, the plague, and now they were being hunted down before they could spread it around the rest of the country side. It was pretty freaking dark. And, not long before that I read Grant Morrison’s We3 about three half-robot animals on the run. It was also sad, but incredibly entertaining. The first issue Ryan Ferrier’s Kennel Block Blues had me hoping for something similar, but it felt like it was mostly all gimmicks. The tone was too light and the prison too safe for Oliver to be losing his mind already.
This second issue resolves that issue. As hope diminishes, it all begins to gel and make sense: this world, this environment, the “Blues” the titles refers to. The dark comedy of it all paralleling the tragic comedy of the world around us. There’s something very insightful in letting animals waver on the edge of nihilism that holds great depths of wisdom. Here’s hoping Ferrier sticks to his guns now that he’s drawn them.
Speaking of drawing, Daniel Bayliss’ art is phenomenal, and Adam Metcalfe’s coloring is gorgeous. Swinging back and forth from reality to fantasy is a joy to watch them visualize. The design and the layout of the book, and even the cover, are cleverly thought out and visually really interesting. Fingers crossed that issue #3 holds up.