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Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites Hardcover – July 6, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Burden Hill looks at first glance to be the epitome of the idyllic suburb, but unbeknownst to its human populace the place is rife with all manner of supernatural menaces, both great and small. Werewolves, hauntings, black magic covens, and less easily defined things that go bump in the night wreak havoc just under the radar of man's perception, but do not go unnoticed by the unlikeliest occult protectors of all: a group of household pets comprising several dogs and a stray cat. These four-footed paranormal investigators, occasionally aided by "wise dogs" trained in the arcane arts, take on all comers with devotion and diligence. Dorkin's clever writing and Thompson's charming painted art effortlessly draw in readers--Thompson's realistic take creates a full world to get immersed in. Loaded with fun in every panel, this series has massive crossover appeal for those who enjoy horror, humor, and stories about endearing animal characters. This gorgeous hardcover edition contains the short stories that introduced the characters, along with the 2009 miniseries and supplemental behind-the-scenes material with notes by Dorkin. A stunner.
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About the Author
Evan Dorkin is a multiple Eisner Award–winning comic book writer, creator, artist, penciller, and cover artist. He is known for Beasts of Burden, Dark Horse Presents, The Eltingville Club, The Goon, and Hellboy.
Jill Thompson is a comic book writer and artist. Thompson was educated at the American Academy of Art and has been working in the comic book industry for more than 25 years. Her first major illustration job was for Wonder Woman, and she has since worked on more than 50 titles. She is a multi-time Eisner Award winner.
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The artwork in this is beautiful. I love that the artist uses watercolor rather than another medium. It adds to the eeriness of the darker scenes, and something about it makes the animals seem more human in their emotions. The art is what drew me to the series, and as I was reading it I would stare at the pictures for several minutes before turning the page to continue reading. Some comics have trouble filling in the blanks that novels fill in with words, but the artwork more than makes up for anything that would be lost between word and art.
The storytelling is also amazing. Some of the stories will make you laugh, the others will have you crying because they are so moving. The personification of the dogs and cats helps you to relate to them, and the fact that they're like our own pets makes you fall in love with them within the first few pages.
I wish I could say more about this, but you really need to read it yourself to understand. If you love horror and the paranormal, this is for you. If you love pets and their spazzy quirks, this is for you. If you like drama in personal relationships, this is for you. If you like a good mystery, this is for you. So get it already!
In certain ways, Beast of Burden is like the offspring of Watership Down and Toy Story. It has the heart and soul of those books and films, which is what makes it so endearing. I also can't say enough about the artwork. It's got a storybook quality that's not commonly seen in comics (unfortunately, because it's so effective), elegiac and earthy (which I've said before in regards to the storytelling), a perfect rendering of these characters and their fascinating world, which is both realistic and overrun with bizarre and malevolent entities.
Seriously, do yourself a favor and grab this book! This is going to be one of those that's recognized years later as one of the greats. Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, take a bow! You guys have created a masterpiece! Now, can you keep it going? Please?