DogJim Benton is probably best known for his fun tween-age chapter books, such as the Franny K. Stein and Dear Dumb Diary series. For the past few years, he has also been posting popular comics on reddit.com, of which this book is a collection. The book is a short (less than 100 pages) and quick (it could take you 15 minutes to read in entirety) read, consisting of full-color one-page comics. The art style varies throughout the collection—a traditional four-panel comic may be followed by a one-image comic reminiscent of the style of Family Circus in newspapers. Some may feature well-drawn people and animals, while others feature sketchy stick figure characters. Another one is a darkly humorous piece followed by a very mature and slightly depressing one. There is no real coherence from one comic to the next.

While this collection is intended for adults, some of the comics’ dark humor would appeal to many teens. In fact, as I was reading the book one of my teens said, “Hey, is that Jim Benton of Dear Dumb Diary? I wanna read it!”  I shared a few of the comics with my teens. Some of my favorite comics include one about visiting aliens who meet two farmers and declare, “we’re farmers too!” In the next scene, you see them back home on their planet offering “fresh Earth berries” which just happen to be human heads, including those of the farmers they just met. Another cute comic features another alien watching a happy father and son on Earth enjoying ice cream. The alien absentmindedly presses a button and is horrified when the two people are zapped into burnt confetti. He looks down and realizes he hit the “kill everything” button instead of the one he meant to push—right next to it—labeled “launch pretty butterfly.”

There is some language and some more mature comics that would be inappropriate for younger teen readers. The words “hell” and variations of “ass” are used quite often, and many characters look at and enjoy a lady’s ample breasts, including a ghost who has no purpose in his afterlife until he haunts such a lady’s chest. Some of the comics might not make any sense to any teen that has not lived long enough to experience a mid-life crisis moment.

Overall, this is a very quick read. Due to its randomness, the comics can be hit or miss in the humor. While enjoyable, there was nothing that truly stood out and made this a “must have” title. I would only recommend this if you need are actively growing an adult graphic novel collection.

Dog Butts and Love. And Stuff Like That. And Cats.
by Jim Benton
ISBN: 9781561638468
NBM Publishing, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: 16+

  • Lindsey Tomsu

    Past Reviewer

    Lindsey Tomsu is the Teen Librarian for the La Vista Public Library in La Vista, Nebraska, where she took a failing teen program in 2009 and turned it into a successful teen program that has been nationally recognized for its innovations in serving teens. Her Teen Advisory Board recently nominated her as a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. Before becoming a librarian, she was an English tutor and editor. She obtained bachelor’s degrees in sociology and philosophy from Bellevue University and English (with a youth and Gothic concentration) from the University of Illinois at Springfield. She is currently finishing her MLIS at San Jose State University as all she has left to finish is her thesis entitled “A Social and Cultural History of America as Seen Through the Pages of Youth Series Fiction, 1899 to the Present Day.” Since there currently aren’t any online Ph.D. programs that meet her needs right now, she began a MA in History at Southern New Hampshire University to continue her series book research. While she is currently teaching a CE workshop at Simmons College (Nancy Drew & Friends: A Historical Survey of Youth Series), she would eventually love to branch out into teaching future librarians and hopes someday to share her love and knowledge in a materials class focused solely on series books throughout history.

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