Seven Years in Dog-Land is an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland type of story that sees a young girl coincidentally named Alice, transported to a world in which dogs are the ruling species and humans are treated as food, pets and entertainment. It has flashes of Gulliver’s Travels and Planet of the Apes at times as well. The story opens with Alice in her own home with her father who is widowed and their family dog Charlie. Charlie is getting up there in age and so one day while near the woods Charlie runs away. Alice is heartbroken because Charlie is her best friend. After a few days and an argument with her father Alice runs away to find Charlie and ends up falling through a tree stump which again is a heavy-handed reference to Alice again.
There she finds herself in another world and is soon imprisoned with other Sapiens as they’re called. She learns that Canines rule the planet and every unimaginable thing that we do to dogs, they do to Sapiens. The big difference is that Alice can talk and so soon she yells at the canine that has bought her. He makes her a special attraction for a while until the King’s daughter forces the slaver to sell Alice to her. Now Alice finds herself in the castle and wouldn’t you know it… Charlie is the king. The problem being is that he doesn’t remember Alice.
There’s a lot of interesting commentary on pets, breeding, treatment of animals, even the food industry to an extent. It’s more food for thought as the stories goal isn’t to offer solutions, though I will say something at the ending nearly washes away the work all the other commentary did. It didn’t break the narrative per say, but it also didn’t make sense with the rest of the story.
While it was an entertaining read, because it’s following the formula of Lewis Carroll’s stories you already know how it’s going to end. In that regard I found myself just waiting for the ending and sometimes the story hung out too much. There are plenty of scenes that while good didn’t add to the narrative, they were just a part of it. Like a post-it note on top of another post-it note saying, “hey read that other post-it note.”
The art is stylized which is the best way I can put that. It’s not pretty and often times the Sapiens look really strange and they’re rarely consistent. The canines vary with detailed, but for the most part you’ll recognize the different breeds and they’re definitely the better illustrated aspect of the story. It’s in all black & white and grey scale. The black & white worked, but the grey scale didn’t. It’s not consistently used and so it looks out-of-place when it is used. The big thing is that the art in my opinion never drives the story. There are very few panels in the nearly three-hundred page story that don’t have dialogue of some kind in order to move the story forward.
It was a good read, but when I got to the end I wondered what the point of the story was. What was the message that it was trying to deliver. I don’t know if it was clear enough or resonated with me enough. The second to last page alludes that it’s about memories, but that’s not the story we read. When it comes down to it I had to ask myself if I would read it again and it’s not likely. I wouldn’t 100% rule it out either though. I would recommend it to people who enjoy the three titles I mentioned in the beginning because you’re sure to like and appreciate Seven Years in Dog-Land in a way that maybe I wasn’t.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Johny Tay Publisher: Avatar House Price: $5.99 Comixology Link