Ever since I was a young boy I have been obsessed with pugs. Yes. Pugs. The wrinkly flat faced dogs that snore even when they’re awake. Every Christmas I would receive a pug calendar to hang in my room and I knew that one day I would be a pug owner, which I am. So what does this have to do with comics you say? Well there happens to be a fellow pug lover out there that goes by the name of Mike Norton best known for his fantastic writing and art in Runaways, The All-New Atom and Green Arrow/Black Canary, who decided to write a comic called Battlepug. Yes. Battlepug. And it is the single best comic any pug enthusiast (especially of the male variant) could ever own. Why do I say especially the male variant? Mainly because the narrator of the story is a completely naked woman named Molly, who lies in bed all day talking to her dogs Mingo and Colfax. This doesn’t mean the ladies won’t like this book though. Molly is just a narrator. Let me explain.
Molly lives in the tower of a fantastical kind of castle city not unlike something you would imagine from Game of Thrones. It doesn’t give us any background on Molly really. All we know is she seems to spend all day naked in bed in a tower room with no doors, talking to her pug and her French bulldog. We also know that in her world dogs can talk and she can communicate with them. Already this book is awesome right? So while it may look sexist to have a nude tattooed woman in the book, she’s really just a piece of narrating eye candy for perverts like me and a literary vehicle to everyone else. So now that we’ve went over what will probably surprise you the most from this book, let’s move onto the pugs (and Frenchies)! Mingo and Colfax are Molly’s pet dogs who are listening to her story, and in any other book they would be the comic relief as well as breaks from the story. Well Norton’s writing is so hilarious throughout, that these little guys aren’t comic relief, they’re just as damn funny as the rest of the characters. Colfax the French bulldog acts very sarcastic and makes fun of Mingo quite a bit. Mingo is the gullible yet affable little pug who is super interested in Molly’s story and usually asks the questions that move the story along. These scenes are usually hilarious as it’s here where Norton sticks in most of the little nods to how these types of dogs act for pug and Frenchie lovers to recognize. My favorite bit so far is a page where Mingo is sleeping on his back and Colfax is trying to smother his snoring with a pillow!
So enough about the narration and background scenes, what’s this story Molly is telling and why should you read this book? This comic’s main story isn’t anything new or inventive at its core, but it’s the little touches of imagination and humor that Norton adds that makes this story unique. The main hero of the story is simply referred to as The Warrior. He’s the last of the Kinmundian tribe or clan, because an evil wizard named Catwulf destroyed his village using a giant baby seal he had under his spell. After his village and family were gone, the Warrior was captured by an evil Santa Claus and was forced to fight for the elves entertainment for years upon years, building himself into a fighting machine of death. So needless to say, the Warrior escapes his shackles and goes on a quest for revenge and wants nothing more than to kill Catwulf for ruining his life. Along the way he meets an old man named Scrabbly, who rambles about random stuff and says Scribby and Scrabbly a lot. He also meets a young mage named Bryony, a young red headed girl with the mouth of a sailor. Every other word she says is censored and it’s absolutely hilarious! Last but not least, especially since the book is named after him, the Warrior meets a giant pug, who becomes his companion and guardian throughout his quest. Whether the Warrior wants his help or not, he learns fast that this giant pug isn’t as dumb as it looks. He can mount the giant pug and ride it into battle against Catwulf, giving it the name Battlepug!
There is way more to the story than I am able to tell here, and I really don’t want to spoil it too much for you. Norton puts a surprising amount of depth and detail into his story. He added in a magic system and world that you normally only get in longer fantasy novels. All the characters the Warrior meets are hilarious and fun, and all the enemies he faces are giant versions of some animal (like a hairless mole rat) or crazy wizard types. I didn’t find myself bored for a second while reading this book. I really soaked up all the dialog and story throughout and I really feel like it’s obvious why Battlepug has become a hit. Norton is on volume 3 (of a planned 5) of Battlepug. Battlepug Vol 1 is titled Blood and Drool. Battlepug Vol 2 is titled The Savage Bone and Battlepug Vol 3 is titled Sit. Stay. Die! (and you can find a link to buy them at the bottom of this article). The story is pretty top notch, and each volume comes with a comical forward written by Mike Norton’s friends. Almost every part of these books is gold whether you’re a pug fan or not! It’s only a real bonus if you like pugs, because Norton writes in little details that only a pug lover/owner would giggle about, but the overarching story can be enjoyed by anyone!
The art in this book is drawn by Norton himself and colored by Allen Passalaqua. The art and coloring in this book is outstanding to say the least. There isn’t a single page in this book that is lazily drawn or inconsistent with the previous pages. For what used to be web-comic, the art is top notch compared to any other web-comics out there and even rivals that of the big publishers. Each character is unique and drawn humorously, sometimes with a touch of satire, and you really end up liking the characters more because of it. Norton also draws pugs like it’s nobody’s business. Every page with the Battlepug on it makes me smile or laugh because of how silly it looks. Allen Passalaqua doesn’t skimp a bit on the colors either. Each page is full of brilliant coloring from top to bottom, making the world alive with detail. One thing I’ll also note is the letterer Chris Crank. The whole comic is comically lettered in Comic sans font, and Crank does a great job in general on the lettering, especially when Bryony is cussing her little head off.
From a first glance this book will look like a kid’s book, but it’s not at all. It’s full of adult themed humor, racy (yet tasteful) jokes, some violence and very brief nudity (there’s a butt!). This book is full of action scenes, humor and intrigue that could peak any comic lover’s interest. Each book comes in a landscape hardcover book that looks really good on display in any shelf. I don’t own many hardcovers myself, but I am definitely going to order volume 3 today to put it on the shelf with the others. Each volume ends in a fun cliffhanger making me want to read more, so I really hope Norton will get on writing Volume 4: The Devil’s Biscuit, because I can’t wait to keep reading this series! Volume 3 comes out tomorrow the 29th of October!
Mike Norton’s Battlepug volumes 1-3 can be found here!