If you want to see daily comic strips in their classic form, the place I’d steer you is cartoonist Patrick McDonnell’s “Mutts.”
Finely drawn, acerbic in voice yet sweet by nature, gentle in image yet often violent in humor, “Mutts” is a throwback to the earliest days of the art form, when a brick to the head meant “I love you” and the illustrations took more space than the words.
PATRICK McDONNELL podcast excerpt: “I got to become friends with Chester Gould’s daughter–Chester Gould was the guy who created ‘Dick Tracy.’ His story was that he tried submitting 120 strips to the syndicates before ‘Dick Tracy’ got picked up. One of the first ythings they asked me at this dinner I attended was, ‘How many strips did you do before ‘Mutts’ got picked up?’ I was embarrassed to tell them that ‘Mutts’ was the only strip I ever handed in. I’m pretty lucky.”
Despite appearing in more than 700 newspapers around the world, “Mutts” is not the most widely recognized strip around nor is its creator, Patrick McDonnell, the best-known artist. He hasn’t established himself as an Internet personality—I suspect you’ll learn shortly that he still doesn’t use a computer—but he has lent his name to the protection of animals, serving on the board of directors for The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals.
He is also the author of two new books. The first, South, is a delightfully wordless children’s story featuring Mooch from the “Mutts” strip. The second is Mutts Shelter Stories, a pastiche of selected “Mutts” strips and full-color, adorable photos of pets found in animal shelters, ready to be adopted.