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Tag: comic

The history and science of dog comes to life in … Zounds! … a comic book!

hirschcoverThink “dogs and comics” and many canine characters comes to mind:

Marmaduke and Snoopy, Underdog and Scooby Doo, Pluto and Goofy –a plethora of cartoon pooches ranging in size, intellect, shape, and colors from blue (Huckleberry Hound) to red (Clifford).

Most of them did little more than provide laughs. Some of them actually passed along some life lessons and knowledge. But none — not even the professorial Mr. Peabody — has displayed the scholarly knowledge of this one.

Meet Rudy, and the man behind him, Andy Hirsch.

Hirsch, through cartoons, words and an energetic narrator modeled after his own dog, tells the story of how wolves transformed into domestic dogs, what’s behind their behaviors and how their relationship to man has evolved in “Dogs: From Predator to Protector“.

It’s the latest title in a graphic nonfiction series from Science Comics that examines science topics ranging from animals, to ecosystems, to technology.

Through Rudy, writer/illustrator Hirsch explores what led wolves to be transformed into the diverse shapes, sizes and breeds of dogs we know today — namely, man.

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“I think it all falls under the umbrella of humans having had a profound influence on dogs. They simply wouldn’t exist without us, especially any sorts of artificial breeds, so a good portion of the book is really about our methods of influence,” Hirsch told Live Science.

The comic-science book gets into the intricacies of doggie DNA and genetics, their exceptional senses, their sociability and their capacity for cross-species communication.

“Humans and dogs have an unmatched partnership all the way at the species level, and to me that means we have a responsibility to understand and care for them,” Hirsch says.

It’s the Texas author’s first nonfiction book, based on his own research, and advice from science consultants including Julie Hecht, a canine behavioral researcher and adjunct professor at Canisius College in New York.

Readers follow Rudy, and his bouncing ball, through a lively series of discussions dealing with the history and science behind how dogs live and behave.

“Maybe it’s something of a cheat to let a tennis ball bounce 25,000 years between panels, but that’s the magic of comics!” Hirsch said. “… The tennis ball was a good way to, well, bounce from one thing to the next. Rudy is our friendly narrator, and though he’s very knowledgeable, he still has the distractible nature of an average dog. That means the bouncing ball never fails to move his attention from one topic to the next.”

Hirsch2-banner“This isn’t a textbook, so when there’s the opportunity to present some facts through an entertaining narrative aside I let the story follow it.”

Rudy is modeled after Hirsch’s own dog Brisco, who he and his partner (all shown at left) adopted.

“Rudy was his first shelter name, and it’s a good fit for a comic book dog,” Hirsch said. “If you get a chance to draw a book full of dogs, of course you’re going to make yours the star.”

The Power of Bow Wow Now

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The creator of the comic strip MUTTS has teamed up with spiritual guru Eckhart Tolle on a book that celebrates dogs, life and “living in the moment” — the latter being a philosophy best taught by members of the canine species.

Normally motivational speak quickly takes a Tolle on me, but I will admit to liking “Guardians of Being,”  both for the point it makes, and the way it makes it —  more light-hearted than heavy-handed, thanks in large part to Patrick McDonnell’s deft touch.

McDonnell uses the cast of characters from the MUTTS strip to illustrate Tolle’s lessons on the value of staying in the present moment, appreciating the oneness of life and recognizing the beauty we sometimes forget to notice around us.

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McDonnell is the award-winning mind behind MUTTS, which appears in over 700 newspapers. (He’s also on the board of the Humane Society of the United States and a long-time advocate of dogs and the environment.) 

Tolle, author of “The Power of Now,” speaks and teaches around the world. He lives in Vancouver, Canada, but spends most of his time on the bestseller list.

After reading “The Power of Now,” McDonnell sought out Tolle to collaborate on “Guardians  of Being.”

“He created a passionate, humorous, enlightening meditation on the power and grace that animals can bring into our lives,” McDonnell said of Tolle. “Eckhart has translated what our companion animals have been telling us for ages: Life is good. Live in the now. Enjoy.”