By Brian and Philip Phillipson (W) and Alex Nino (A)
Published in 2006, originally as four issues in 2005, by Bliss on Tap Publishing. $19.95 softcover, $29.95 hardcover.
The Plot: Drop some acid, chase it with a bottle of something staunch and thumb through a pile of texts on mythology, psychology, human history and religion. Then distill it through a most simplistic pun. The resulting dream is going to approximate the experience of reading God the Dyslexic doG. The Phillipson father and son team bring a whole lot to the table, roughly following the adventures of a dog that’s been instilled with the power of God. The villain is age-old Dionysus, who seeks to destroy the world (by setting in motion the Mayan doomsday) so that he can finally die (in a nice twist, he’s one of the few fictional villains seeking to end his immortality). This is just the first part of the adventure, but manages not to leave off with a jarring cliffhanger.
The Positives: I’m a sucker for weird forays into myth, and that’s pretty much exactly the MO here. It’s pretty densely layered with ideas and ideologies, so there’s a lot to chew (metaphorically, of course). But it’s not overly high-minded, delving into plenty of silliness. The Phillipsons clearly are just having a lot of fun with the concept, and it works. (Brian Phillipson wanted to get together for a Q&A but has been too busy with his day job, working on animation for the upcoming Futurama flicks. He says they’re really funny, which is good news for a good show that’s long sat dormant.)
A lot of the book’s success owes to Alex Nino’s art. The pages are filled with these massive splashes of imagery that seems like a marriage between Salvador Dali and Dr. Seuss. There are scientific monkeys conducting experiments on crashed airplanes and weird space stations that play home to warrior turkeys. And Nino’s style fits it really well.
The Negatives: The problems with this book all come from the writing, mostly because it’s so anarchic that it’s hard as a reader to ever get much of a sense of what’s going on. I found myself vacillating between being convinced that this book existed on a plane of knowledge far above my reach and thinking it was just a rambling mess of pseudo-intellectualism all brewed together. Either way, it’s a world without structure, which means a serious lack of narrative strength. There’s a lot of potential in the storyline, but it’s not there yet. Also, and this is a decidedly minor note, but the main idea of the story (a dog that’s a god) kept me thinking back to this Kids in the Hall sketch, which was a much simpler and more effective riff on the same pun.
The Grade: B God the Dyslexic doG isn’t an overwhelmingly great book, but it is decidedly different from everything else that’s out there and it was published (quite nicely) by the creators, so it’s worth supporting (buy it here). I’d say that if you have an interest in this sort of thing (or if you have a serious drug habit), then it’s definitely a book to check out.