Who needs ghost busters when there’s a pack of fearsome fiend-fighting canines – and one spirited cat – in town? Paranormal detectives have never been so loveable as the four legged variety in Evan Dorkin’s Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites. Published in 2010, this collection isn’t exactly new but the series is ongoing and I for one anxiously await the next collected volume. The characters are endearing and the stories are spooky fun. More gross than frightening, the horror in these comics is delivered with a generous dose of humor. All things told, the scripting isn’t genius. And unfortunately, the Jack Russell is named Jacks and the Pug is Pugsley, and so on. But the collection earns serious kudos for its story, “A Dog and His Boy.” Co-written by Dorkin’s wife Sarah Dyer, it transcends the other chapters with lyrical scripting and even a heart-wrenching end. (Ahem, more Sarah please.)
That said, Beasts of Burden was a joy of a ride and I’d definitely do it again. The stories are quirky and engrossing, sure to amuse those of us who believe our furry companions have complex secret lives. And the real gem here are renowned cartoonist Jill Thompson’s illustrations. She perfectly captures the courage and haphazard goofiness of our beloved best friends, as well as the array of ghouls they keep at bay while their owners sleep undisturbed. An all-around excellent read for adult and mature YA comic fans.