Review: 'Housepets! Hope They Don't Get Eaten' (Book 2), by Rick Griffin
Charleston, SC, CreateSpace, October 2011
Trade paperback, $12.99 (66 pages)
This book collects the second year of Griffin’s award-winning Monday-Wednesday-Friday full-color online comic strip, Housepets!, from June 1, 2009 to May 28, 2010. Wow!
When Book 1 containing the first year’s worth was published in July, I assumed that Griffin would be publishing these annual collections annually. Nope! And I’m glad to be wrong. This means that we won’t have to wait another year to get the third year’s worth.
As before, the dog Peanut Butter Sandwich and the cat Grape Jelly Sandwich, the anthropomorphized pets of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Sandwich of Babylon Gardens, are the main stars of this strip. All the supporting characters of the first year are here.
Cast additions include Uncle Reuben and his farm animals (Rufus the dog; horses Made of Win, Money for Nothing, and Action Replay; and three nameless barn cats); the Milton human nephew and niece Thomas & Celia, his ferrets Keene, Lana, Duke, Pit, Rock, and Simon, and the ferrets’ butler Jeeves & steward Steward; and the wolf pack of Miles, Lucretia, their three cubs, and Miles’ brother Daryl.
Characters briefly introduced in the first book, such as several of the neighborhood dogs and cats, the Pekinese dog mystic Tarot, Zach the rabbit, the wild raccoons, Pete the Griffin, and the crazy old man who talks in limericks, have more extensive roles this year. (Well, maybe not the crazy old man, who apparently has only one walk-on appearance per year.)
Major events are the visit to the farm; the death of Henry Milton (who built Babylon Gardens) and his leaving his billions to his six pet ferrets, and his nephew & niece’s trying to steal them back; Grape’s and Maxwell’s romance taking off; Pete’s transformation of the animal-hating Joel into the corgi King, and King’s learning to live with the other dogs; many more Adventures of Spot; and Peanut’s imaging through Tarot’s mental projection of him (as Spot) and his friends’ entering the Pridelands universe, with Grape and Maxwell becoming a sexy lioness and studly lion. These appear in the story arcs from #20, “Roadtrip Woo” to #30 “The Present”. There are also many one-off strips between and after the arcs; and the prose short story, “All the King’s Men”.
The first year’s collection of Housepets! was only 43 pages. The reason that this second collection has expanded to 66 pages is that it includes Griffin’s only prose story in the series. “All the King’s Men” tells what happens when King (the human Joel transformed into a Corgi) attends a party with the dogs of the K-9 squad who had arrested him as a human, and he inadvertently reveals that he has NEVER SNIFFED ANOTHER DOG’S BUTT! The story proves that Griffin is just as witty as a prose writer as he is as a cartoonist.
Unfortunately, it has still not been practical to include the readers’ online Discussion of the strips, which has sometimes been very cogent. For example, it was revealed in the Discussion that Griffin’s anthropomorphized animals live about twice as long as the real animals. Also, it was widely agreed that when Griffin draws wild animals without collars, they look especially naked. Equally unfortunately, this second book still contains most of what I complained about as flaws in the first book: no title page, and the lack of any original material such as an introduction or commentary on especially significant individual strips.
Actually, Book 2 DOES contain some original material. Only Part 1 of “All the King’s Men” appeared on the Housepets! website; the story is finished with Parts 2 and 3 here (with new illustrations), with the collaboration of reader Two Twig. If you didn’t mind those other omissions, you will probably think that this second book is just about perfect. Get it!