by Whitney Grace
Our faithful canine companions have followed us into battle for centuries ad their stories have gone un-howled. Many dogs have performed a soldier’s duty and have become heroes of the battlefield. Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox teamed up on Graphix’s Dogs of War, a graphic novel about three soldier and their loyal dogs that accompanied them on their assignments.
The graphic novel is divided into three sections, each focusing on a different war and dog. We first meet Boots and his human Donnie serving in the first World War. They take part in the famous Christmas Day armistice between the Germans and British. Part two takes us to World War II to an American base in Greenland, where we meet Loki, a sled dog, who has more than one trick hiding in his paws. He and his handler Cooper face down a band of Nazis on the tundra. Lastly, Henry and his new puppy Bouncer discover that not all canine heroes make it home alive, when they meet Vietnam vet Lanford and learn about his scout dog Sheba.
Each section is a standalone story that envelopes the reader in the time period, but the art is the pull factor that really makes the dogs’ stories sink in. It is attributable to Nathan Fox’s heavy reliance on think, black lines to contrast with the dull battlefield colors. Fox’s style remains consistent through the entire graphic novel, but there are some variations for the individual sections.
Dogs of War is fiction work based on true stories about dogs that served alongside soldiers on the battlefield. Even though the stories are based on war, the comic cuts down on the bloodshed and brings out the excitement of an adventure, except in the third story about Sheba. Sheba’s installment is probably the one that will make the readers think about the lasting negative effect war can have on people and will force young readers to understand the impact. It is not all guts and glory.
Compelling storyline, characters, and the art makes Dogs of War enjoyable for children and adults alike.