From Raine Dog's news section.
Also, have recent developments in this story startled you?
You're not alone, of course. And, anyway, they were kind of supposed to; that's kind of the point.
Nearly everyone who's actually written to me has had positive things to say about it; the response, actually, has been extremely gratifying. As I've said, it's a story that's been percolating in my brain for years and I've been working hard at getting it right.
I did warn you it would be darker than my previous work. And, a lot less funny. More complicated, I would say.
As much as it makes me roll my eyes to even have to say this, though, there is one notion I feel like I should respond to.
One person writes:
> There's been some controversy over your most recent storyline, in particular the
> relationship between the protagonists. A lot of people are labelling the strips as
> an advocation for beastiality, and are particularly shocked as this is coming from
> a long-time creator of a more wholesome comic.
I actually have my doubts that "a lot of people" actually hold that opinion, because it seems transparently silly to me. I suspect anyone saying that is the sort of person who, for whatever reason, doesn't like me and feels compelled to "take me down a peg." I've certainly gotten my share of that, and at this point it's little more than background droning to which I pay little attention.
But if anyone actually does honestly worry that I might be "advocating bestiality," let me set your mind at ease: No. I am not doing that.
If anyone really does think that, I have to ask: do you read Nabokov's Lolita and think he's advocating pedophilia? Do you read Dickens's Oliver Twist and think he's advocating selling children on the street, or picking pockets? Do you read Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and think she's advocating necrophilia? Do you read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and think she's advocating legalized rape?
In other words, do you go through life constantly assuming that anything that's presented in fiction is a full-throated endorsement of that behavior in real life? I very much doubt you do.
For that matter, since, sadly, not enough people actually read books...do you watch "Family Guy" and think that, because Brian the dog regularly dates, and sleeps with, human women, Seth McFarlane is therefore "advocating bestiality"? Yes, it's "just a cartoon." So is this.
Besides, Jeff and Princess didn't even sleep together, they just kissed. (Well, they technically "slept" together in the literal sense of the word, but that's it.) I thought that was fairly clear. I also thought it was pretty obviously not a good idea for them.
My goal with all this is to explore, more seriously and in more detail than one generally sees, what it would really be like if that old cartoon trope of humans owning sentient talking pets were actually true, because it always struck me that there was something fundamentally disturbing about that. (Could Shaggy have Scooby put down? If so, isn't that sort of...wrong?) In doing so, I'm trying also to explore what makes someone a "person," and what ramifications that has.
So, it's partly metaphor, partly an exploration of a strange cartoon tradition (like what "Watchmen" or "The Incredibles" did with the inherent weirdness of superheroes). What would that world be like, and what does that say about the world we really live in?
Whether I succeed in this, and whether the exercise is worthwhile in the first place, is for the reader to determine, not me. But, to leave out the obvious tension that would exist for an adolescent boy owning an opposite-sex sentient animal, who was also his best friend, would have been to leave an important dimension unexplored.
Later, the notion of animal suffrage will play a role in the plot, and somehow I'm not expecting a flood of letters demanding to know if I actually advocate letting dogs vote.
Frankly, if some people don't get it, that's more than fine with me, because art that absolutely everyone understands tends to be pretty boring and pointless. Something really challenging is always going to inspire anger from some and mockery from others. It actually makes me feel like I'm doing a decent job.
I'm abnormal. I'm a freak. Not only am I willing to acknowledge that, I'm proud of it, and you should be glad I am. Life would be a lot worse if everybody fit the parameters we generally think of as "normal." "Normal" people cause 99% of the trouble in the world and produce 1% of the good ideas and good art, because us freaks are the ones who look at society from enough of a remove to come up with something new. All of us stand on the shoulders of brilliant freaks.
So, here's to my fellow freaks, and here's to everyone who's written me and everyone who's getting something out of this story. Wave your freak flag high.
"Normal" people cause 99% of the trouble in the world and produce 1% of the good ideas and good art, because us freaks are the ones who look at society from enough of a remove to come up with something new.
While I agree with the general idea, I think this is a bit of an awkward exaggeration.