Review - Kennel Block Blues #1 (@BOOMStudios)

"Ohhh, it's a per-fect dayyy..."

When you find yourself in a situation you'd rather not be in, there are a few things you can do. You can attempt to make the best of it. You can attempt to escape. Or you can singlehandedly set off a chain of events that puts your life and the lives of those associated with you at risk. Oliver chose all of the above in Kennel Block Blues #1 from BOOM! Studios. The issue is written by Ryan Ferrier, illustrated by Daniel Bayliss, colored by Adam Metcalfe and lettered by Colin Bell.

Oliver is a good dog. A family dog. But without warning, he’s sentenced to Jackson Kennel, where he’s instantly placed on Death Row with the rest of his fellow inmates, awaiting a lethal appointment on The Table if salvation doesn’t come. He’ll need help escaping the Kennel, but when the stress of prison life builds, he starts escaping reality instead, imagining a fantasy world of cartoon friends. It’s time to break out…into a musical number?

There's plenty of movies that describe to viewers the harsh reality that prison can be, but very few delve into it from a dog's perspective. Ferrier's take on incarceration is a bit more canine and it's a pretty fantastic take to boot. Oliver is the newest dog in the kennel and is put through all the same paces that a new prisoner would be put through, only Ferrier anthropomorphizes the experience. He paces the issue beautifully as well, allowing the reader to follow Oliver as he "tours" the kennel--it's a narrative style that cleverly reveals the world to the reader. The dialogue is pretty snappy as well, even if some of the characters and situations are a bit cliche at times.

The artwork by Bayliss is very strong and concise. He manages to bring together disparate animal types in a way that works when the sum of them are viewed within the context of a prison, mixing together individuals from different backgrounds. Each inmate manages to be very expressive throughout the issue, effectively reinforcing the notion that even the kennel is a tough place for dogs. Bayliss manages to work in every familiar aspect of a prison in the kennel in a way that feels natural and helps with the flow of the story. Metcalfe adds in some spice to the issue as well, primarily with the more psychedelic sequences where Oliver finds his happy place to escape the depressed reality of the prison.

Kennel Block Blues #1 is a great first issue that breathes new life into a relatively familiar concept. Oliver is a solid main character and builds up a rapport with the other characters the helps move the story along. Ferrier's take is a pretty refreshing and clever, working on quite a few levels. Bayliss' artwork is a great fit for the story as well, in that he effectively capitalizes on different animal shapes and sizes to fill out certain visual needs for the book. Kennel Block Blues #1 starts off strongly and doesn't look to slow down anytime soon.

Kennel Block Blues #1 is in stores now.