Dogs in comic strips

As in literature, dogs are popular characters in comic strips for young and old alike. The very first comic strip, published in a New York daily in the early 20th century, takes place at a dog show. This was only the beginning. Dogs started out as secondary characters, but they gradually developed into stars in their own right.

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Companion, silent witness

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In Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin, Snowy the Fox Terrier is the Belgian detective’s inseparable companion. Snowy is never anything but a dog throughout the entire series; while his sense of smell and intuition are vital to Tintin, Snowy never speaks, (although he can follow human reasoning and sometimes there is a dilemma between duty and his craving for a big bone) (King Ottokar's Sceptre).

The indispensable canine sidekick

Asterix the Gaul by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo first appeared in 1959. The dog in the series, Dogmatix, was originally created to fill out the frame, but he soon became the inseparable companion of Obelix, Asterix’s accomplice. Dogmatix brings out the tender side of his strapping master; this cunning canine loves nature (hating it when people cut down trees) and is obsessed by bones. His greed even helps save the heroes from making a wrong move in Asterix and Cleopatra. Dogmatix became so successful that he even got his own collection for young children.

The anthropomorphic dog

Elsewhere, dogs have taken on more human traits, especially when they are the main characters. Charlie Brown’s dog, Snoopy, in Charles Schultz’s Peanuts stands upright on his hind legs and has a kennel with all the modern comforts, even a pool table, although Snoopy mostly sleeps on the roof. Snoopy’s rich imagination is depicted in the cartoon strip, revealing himself to be a child – and sometimes an adult – at heart. Despite his human-type behaviour, Snoopy communicates like a dog, although he seems to be understood perfectly well by the children in the series, for whom he is, by turns, tormentor, companion and confidant.

Epic canines

In the Japanese take on the comic book – manga – dogs have assumed the role of fully-fledged heroes. In Ginga Nagareboshi Gin (1983-1987) the story of a family of canine bear hunters (Kuma-Inu) and their master in their battle against a bear by the name of Akakabuto, which has unleashed a reign of terror in the mountains of Japan, is told through Gin, an Akita Inu. There is a gradual transition from the world of humans to that of dogs from the first book.

The dogs communicate with each other in a way that readers can understand, although the humans in the stories continue to interpret it as barking.
The 18-volume series has been a great success for author Yoshihiro Takahashi.

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Dogs in comic strips
    Dogs in comic strips

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