Graphic Content: Space Dog / The Arrival

List Item:  Read half of the 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die

Title: Space Dog
Author & Illustrator: Hendrik Dorgathen
Year: 1993
Country: Germany

It looks like these dictated reviews of movies, food and – now – comics are going to have to continue in earnest as the pain has started to grow in my other wrist. It means that my gaming list will need to take a back seat for a month or so.

One thing that I love about the comics list is that there is an extreme difference lengths. Where it took me 2 1/2 weeks to finish off The Sandman, it only took me about 10 minutes to read Space Dog. Aside from the introduction, which was in German, the entire story is told through images alone.

It tells a story of an adventurous red, somewhat angular, dog who leaves the comfort of his rural life in order to explore the big city. Along the way he makes friends with a musician and finds love in the form of a golden dachshund. At this point he is captured by the city authority who assume that he is a stray and ends up in the hands of NASA.

After this his life changed forever. He gets blasted into space and is contacted by aliens that imbue him with intelligence and the ability to walk on two legs. Upon his arrival back on Earth this red space dog becomes an instant celebrity. With his newfound intelligence this little dog of tries to change the world for the better. He helps to invent new technologies and even speaks at the United Nations. His downfall is succumbing to this life of celebrity, but it all comes good in the end.

For a 10 minute read this comic packs a whole lot in. I really enjoyed the angular and very colourful illustrations in this. Seeing how it took me little time to finish there is not much more I can say but I really enjoyed this.

Title: The Arrival
Author & Illustrator: Shaun Tan
Year: 2006
Country: Australia

Another short graphic novel, but wow just how different they are. When we decided to do this comics list we thought to take it in turns to pick. Both this and Space Dog were my picks (I got two because they were so small).

The reason that The Arrival was such an early pick for me is rather nostalgic. Back when I was teaching we would do these days focused on PSHE topics such as jobs, drugs and finance. I remember this one time I had to deliver an entire day about “what is your ideal job?” to a bunch of 12 year olds and I let it slip that given the economy and reality most adults do not end up in their dream jobs. The look of shock on some of their faces was priceless. I don’t think anyone had told them that just because you dream of being Beyonce it does not mean you will get a record deal.

Anyway I digress. I’ve actually used parts of this in a day that focused on immigration. This is where the difference between these two list items really comes into play. This is very much the graphic novel rather than a comic. I can easily believe it took a very long time to construct this.

The sheer wealth of imagination on display is breathtaking. As someone who is never had to emigrate or really deal with anything that would prompt emigration I don’t think I have ever come across something that could explain the feelings is such a simple yet articulate way. The lack of words means that there is much of the language barrier between this this foreign world and you as there is of for the protagonist. This means you have to suss out meaning from the gestures and pictures, which is very easy to do but it adds to the experience.

The city that the man ends up in feels like magic. I wonder if it relates back that idea of the technology belonging to an advanced alien race can feel like magic. The creatures and the machinery are utterly fantastical. I would love one of those weird dog like creatures sleeping at the foot of my bed. In order to have the impact there needs to be very little that the reader can relate to otherwise the confusion of the man will be diminished.

The something that is so short it really makes your reflect on what it must be like to been forced into that position of all the immigrants both in the book and in real life. I only wish that instead of having to use stupid excerpts when teaching we could have just had copies of the book to read together. Sure a lot of kids would have found it pointless, but the seeds would have been planted.

Progress: 12/501

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