Written By: Jake Lawrence
Art By: Jake Lawrence
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Teen Dog is a neat little BOOM! title that’s quickly gaining momentum for being similar in art style and tone to Lumberjanes and even Adventure time. Does it stack up to the hype? Well, it’s mostly going to depend on your knowledge of Jake Lawrence and his body of work.
Taken as a stand-alone body of work, Teen Dog is alright but could definitely be better. Lawrence initially started Teen Dog on his Tumblr blog and this first issue is incredibly awkward for people who haven’t read any of it, which is probably going to be a large amount of people. This first issue is full of one-page series of jokes that can definitely work within comic books if its done correctly. The problem with Teen Dog is that it does a fairly poor job of introducing the general characters and set-up so it often feels like you’re missing out on something. It’s not that it isn’t funny, it’s that its reminiscent of hearing you friends crack jokes about a mutual friend you only met once. Some of the jokes are sincerely funny (the graffiti one comes to mind) but other times it feels like you’ re missing out on something. Mariella, for example, is a great character and her friendship with Teen Dog is wonderful but that level of friendship wasn’t easy to recognize until the issue was almost over.
Teen Dog’s main appeal lies in its grungy, radical main character who shreds rails and eats pizza and may also have some rather far-out cosmic abilities. It can be pretty funny, what with its Bill and Ted’s, Marty McFly, 80’s arcade attitude because Lawrence absolutely nails this aesthetic and idea. My main problem is that its been done before so many times that we really need to see some extraordinarily creative material for it to be really funny. I mean, even the Ninja Turtles liked to skateboard and eat pizza so centering a character around these things isn’t necessarily fresh or new and I know that this character aspect is certain to turn some people off instantly. Then again, if you hate anthropomorphic animals who skateboard and eat pizza you probably aren’t even going to bother picking this up.
The things I found the funniest within Teen Dog weren’t these pizza jokes or anything, but rather the unexpected way that Lawrence had of delivering certain punchlines. When Teen Dog lists himself as the 34th president on a test, the unexpected textbook delivery was hilarious. And that aforementioned graffiti joke, in which a bully tries to slander Teen Dog, is done so brilliantly without resorting to being mean or belittling anyone that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
Lawrence’s art is probably the best and most consistent thing about this comic. It’s really cartoony and colorful and really reminiscent of early Adventure Time art in the best way possible. It continues this BOOM! aesthetic of having really unique cartoon art that isn’t afraid to be a bit imperfect and a bit juvenile. And for a comic about a super rad pizza eating, skateboarding dog it’s perfect. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Altogether it was a decent start but I would’ve liked to see a little bit more, especially considering the fact that this is a miniseries. Lawrence only has 8 issues to truly impress us and I think the first issue could have stood to have introduced us to the characters a bit more rather throw us into the jokes right away. Do I think I have a pretty good understanding of Mari, Thug Pug, Teen Dog, and some of the other characters at this point? Certainly. I just wish I had known a bit more about them before the one-shot jokes started rolling in.