For lucky canine-loving fanboys and fangirls out there who subscribe to LootCrate’s LootPets monthly box service, one of the best fantasy comic book series arrived on their doorstep this past week. Originally a webcomic, the first year of Mike Norton‘s 2012 Eisner Award winning Battlepug was released back in 2012 by Dark Horse in a hardcover version and Volume 1 is now making an appearance across the globe in a trade edition thanks to LootPets.
What is Battlepug? Norton artfully scribed another story of the Arabian Nights, even told by Sheherazade herself, only in Battlepug her name is Moll, a storyteller recounting the “Tale of the Warrior and the Battlepug” to her two pug dogs. Norton goes where no one has gone before, recounting the origin story of a Conan type warrior set upon revenge resulting from a certain hell that laid waste to his people, leaving him the last Kinmundian. And the form of destruction? A giant (cute), evil (really cute), white harp seal. And yes, our warrior has his revenge, off-camera beating the seal to death with a giant candy cane. In taking that revenge he must defeat another oppressor, the king of the Northland Elves, who decrees a life of servitude for our hero. The king himself is none other than Santa Claus himself, although not referred by that name.
This all sounds very dark, doesn’t it? How can it be funny and so good? It’s in the delivery–putting such untouchables in such unthinkable situations is perfection. And it’s just really good. I haven’t even mentioned the curse of the thousand angry gophers, the “scribbly scrabbly” crazy man who accompanies our hero, the fate of the witch toad, the almighty God-dog the White, or even the entry of the eager and brave Battlepug into the story.
Back in a review of Battlepug here at borg.com in 2012, I compared Norton’s series to David Petersen’s Mouse Guard, a series of comic books that when compiled read like classic children’s storybooks. Norton and Petersen have this niche in common with their books–you want to sit down and have storytime. These guys are among the best Eisner Award winning comic book artists that write as well as they draw, and they are both among the nicest guys in the business you’ll ever meet. With Battlepug you have beautiful images, interesting and funny surprise characters, and a narrative structure and tale that would fall alongside any other classic tale on your bookshelf. It’s no wonder Norton was recognized by the Eisner committee–this isn’t only crazy silliness, it’s a story with roots in classic fiction and the beginnings of a character who could hold his own with Conan and Tarzan.
So what else made the LootPets crate this month?
Adventure Time was the theme of the new matching “Makin’ Bacon Pancakes” T-shirt set (last month it was a Star Trek “Mirror Mirror” shirt combo, and before that Deadpool, The X-Files, and Space Invaders sets. Until now you had to subscribe to both LootCrate and LootPets to get matching human and pooch shirts (Jade is showing off this month’s shirt above). This month’s was the first that included both in one crate–a smart move by LootCrate. As with LootCrate, Quest was the theme of the month’s box. Your dog could enjoy a giant crinkly-sounding plush bacon slice toy, real beef jerky strips, a scratch-n-sniff bacon sticker, a Dungeons & Dragons medallion to wear on his/her collar like the one for humans in the LootCrate box, and there’s even a set of trading cards (for the humans).
If you missed getting your copy of Battlepug in this month’s LootPets, no worries. Mike Norton’s Battlepug: Volume 1–Blood and Drool is available here at Amazon.com, in comic book stores, other bookstores and online. And you can get Volume 2–The Savage Bone here, Volume 3–Sit. Stay Die! here, Volume 4–The Devil’s Biscuit here, and pre-order Volume 5–The Paws of War here, too. And if you haven’t subscribed to LootPets yet, save $5 on your first box by using this link.