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Murder Slim Review: LOST DOGS

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LOST DOGS is a very short graphic novel. You'll be able to read it in 40 minutes or so. Unsurprisingly, it was also produced quickly too. Lemire initially set out for LOST DOGS to be an attempt at Scott "Understanding Comics" McCloud's 24 hour challenge, where comic writers/artists produce 24 pages in 24 hours. Lemire only produced 12, but liked the characters enough to plough on for another month.

Lost Dogs Cover

Lemire says in his excellent, honest introduction that "Over the next month I drew LOST DOGS. I remember being so focussed on it that I drew the last fourteen pages in one long sitting... It was one of those rare and fleeting creative moments where everything just comes together and feels right."

The result is a natty short story about a gigantic farmer who - on a trip to the city - is attacked and thrown in sea, while his wife is raped and his daughter is killed. The hero - the "sailor" as he becomes known - is found by a passing ship, and he sets out to find his wife. This mission takes him into the world of bare knuckle boxing, driven by a sleazy by knowledgeable old man.

The art of LOST DOGS is a selling point, but it won't be to all tastes. It's very rough and loose, with thick black lines and limited to a bright red along with the black and white. Look beyond the sketchiness, and there are some lovely, striking layours and good storytelling ability. I particularly enjoyed its energy, which the affable Lemine sums up well:
"I guess if I look at it in the right light, the rough, spontaneous art is all a part of its charm now.... There's something to this story that gave birth to the cartoonist and storyteller I am now. It's a simple story but, I think, an affecting one... It came from the gut, and it has heart."

Lost Dogs Interior Art

Read Lemire's intro for its quality, and then scoff at the piece-of-shit one by Timothy Callahan. Callahan - a reviewer for comic websites - rants about how he likes red, white and black, bringing in ludicrous comparisons to The White Stripes, Criterion Collection covers and more. His three pages are an excellent lesson in how not to write, with self-aggrandising (he's very proud of himself for taking a chance on the book) and cliches ("it's rough like a bareknuckle fist fight and raw like a rusty knife in your gut.")

LOST DOGS is actually a tender book, interspersed by just a few startling moments of violence. Although The Sailor doesn't talk much, he's a gentle giant that you'll warm to. Don't go into it expecting anything expansive, but this'll be 40 minutes of your life well spent.

Review by Steve Hussy