The Comic Queen

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Friday, December 10, 2004

Dogs and Water Review

By Anders Nilsen
Drawn and Quarterly; $9.95

Dogs and Water is the thick story of a boy and his bear. Together they enter into a dream, but sometimes nightmare, of a grand journey with no beginning and no end. The presence of a large pipeline and vast wilderness leads me to believe that the story takes place in Alaska, but the precise location is never expressed. The journey switches locales from the aforementioned wilderness to a small boat in a large ocean and back many times. The boy and bear travel together until their paths finally separate.

I completely forgot that I ordered Dogs and Water, so when it showed up in my pull box, I was surprised. Actually, I didn’t remember anything about the book, so I entered into it with no preconceptions. I was a clean slate, if you will. Now that I’ve read the book though, I’m still a clean slate. As I often said in Mr. True’s precalculus calls, “I just don’t get it.”

Now my lack of cognitive skills is in no way a detriment to the book. Nilsen draws a beautiful story with both disturbing and touching moments. The book is a study in opposites highlighting love and hate, desperation and contentment, and peace and war. Nilsen uses these emotions and images to weave a powerful tale leaving the reader exhausted and confused.

Even after a second read, I didn’t know what to think. Was the journey real? Did I even like the main character? Was I supposed to? The answers to those questions, both yes and no at the same time, are also a study in opposites.

I don’t know the answers, but I do know that I enjoyed the ride.

Bottom Line: B+

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