Comic Rewind: Kennel Block Blues

Oliver the dog gets sent off to the big house, Jackson State Kennel, see if he can survive in Kennel Block Blues.

One day Oliver was accidentally separated from his adopted father and he was picked up on the streets and sent to the pound.  He is sent to the pound with some tough looking dogs and befriends one named Cosmo.

It is only a matter of time before Oliver’s father realizes his mistake and picks him up or that is what he tells himself and everyone else.  Oliver is introduced to a world of bad species relations between the dogs and cats.  A war is brewing between the two and it may come to a head very soon.

Oliver’s cellmate, Sugar, is leading the war on the dog’s side.  When Oliver’s nervous he begins to dance and sing to escape into a fantasy world.  This has lead Oliver to become rejected from the other dogs.

He must now hang out with the weirdos which are comprised of a sick rabbit named Fluppers, a overly friendly dog named Charlie and the blind former leader of the cats named Frisky.

Sugar comes up with a plan to escape the Jackson State Kennel, but needs volunteers.  Oliver and his group of weirdos are the only ones to sign-up for the escape.

Kennel Block Blues was written by Ryan Ferrier with art by Daniel Bayless and Adam Metcalfe.  BOOM! Studios published the comic in 2017.

I found this to be a extremely interesting concept for a comic.  It explores what it would be like for animals who live in the pound if they had human traits.  The comic also is a pretty good analysis of what prison is like for humans.

The aspect which I did not like was the line walking between a fun parody and a series prison story.  Having Oliver constantly going into a song and dance got real annoying very quickly.  I enjoyed having human phrases made into a phrase a animal may use like dogspeed instead of Godspeed.  However, they rely on it too much and it is a punchline to a joke instead of a throwaway line.

This comic did a much better job with the serious aspects of the comic.  Animals die from illness and others are put down and put in the incinerator.  Having the animals deal with the loss of their friends was really well done.  The animals living in constant fear of these black inky hands which  come out of the darkness and take them away was cool too.

However, the good serious stuff was ruined by the humorous stuff because the humor happened at the wrong parts and became distracting.  I wish the comic just focused on the serious stuff and left out the humor.  Ferrier has a much better handle on that in this comic.  The serious story wasn’t the greatest, but it was mostly because not enough time was spent on developing it or the characters.

I really liked the art and especially the color.  All the characters were done well with the human characteristics, but I could see what their animal form looked like too.  It was a tightrope walk and they did it great.

Metcalfe made an interesting choice when he colored the comic so brightly.  Most “prison” comics would make the color very dark and dull.  However, having it colored so brightly shows the hope all the animals have.

This is a great comic and a great concept which didn’t fully come together.  It is worth a read though.

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