Skateboards, football games, prom…your teenage years have got nothin’ on the raddest dude that’s ever graced a denim vest. Written and illustrated by Jake Lawrence (Time Cowboy), join Teen Dog and his best friend Mariella as they tackle typical teen life with a manic twist. Growing up is an adventure, and you might as well rock it!
Teendog isn’t poochie, but neither is he a purebred.
Being someone who spends a lot of time either reading or writing about comics, I must admit when I first saw Boom! Boxes advertisements for Teen Dog I was a bit wary. He seemed a bit like Poochie, that dog that’s just too cool for school (yet ultimately empty, out of touch and creatively bankrupt) in an episode of the Simpsons. Having now read the first issue I have less to fear.
Teen Dog is a collection of short stories, usually a page or two in length, all taking place over the period of an average school day. The first issue introduces us to the ensemble that is the cast and gives us a small grounding in Teen Dogs world. The world he exists has a late 80s/early 90s John Hughes feel to it, with a post-Adventure Time look, that’s aware it can be more than just that. The characters themselves seem to weave between in sensibilities of the time and an all knowing self awareness certainly (the last page where Teen Dog asks them to high five for the freeze frame being the most glaring example). The same can be said for its portrayal of Teen Dog himself. He’s part Corey Haim all too-cool-for-school attitude, but the comic lets us know that some of that is because of people’s perceptions and that it’s because it’s all he actually has going for him. It’s kind of endearing in a way, even if I did have to read it in two sittings because the levels of ‘irony’ became a bit nauseating for my tastes.
Ultimately I can see the comic is trying to have it both ways, being able to be appreciated ‘ironically’ by older readers who may feel the need to justify reading a comic called Teen Dog (or just comics in general), whilst playing it completely straight to the younger age range Boom! Box normally targets. I can certainly see younger readers going back to it in a few years and getting an extra level of depth out of things once they become more wise to the world.
So in that regard, Teen Dog is a success. The younger crowd it is aimed at will probably enjoy the faux 80s/90s setting whilst those who are older can enjoy it in a different way. Just be aware if you are an older reader. If your tolerance for pop culture’s obsession of repackaging nostalgia is low, best give Teen Dog a miss.
Teen Dog is available from Comixology or your local comic book retailer.
Cover image courtesy of Boom! Box