WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
Type: Graphic Novel, Superhero
Basic Plot: After a bombing incident, a super policeman with the head of a dog and the body of a man is created. The new “Dogman” must save the city from several different evil schemers, despite the protestations from the author’s teachers.
Plot: 3/5 Average: The stories ranged from cute and humorous to simple and predictable. The later stories were better than the earlier ones, as they had a bit more creativity to them, but unfortunately about half of the humor was disgustingly juvenile potty humor.
The characters are probably the best part of the book. Dog-man, the chief, and Petey the cat are all slightly cliché characters, but are all fun for children of the age group the book is aimed at.
Graphics: 2/5 OK: The graphics were probably the most disappointing of the series. Some may argue that they were intentionally made poor as the boys in the series writing the book are grade school children. This is a fair argument, and one nice feature that can be seen is the changing quality of the comics as the age of the author’s changes. This could also be looked at as a downer though, as this makes the graphics occasionally a bit unpleasant.
Moral: 1½/5 A Hard to Read Moral: There isn’t any real moral that is easy to see. There is the moral, possibly that good always triumphs over evil, as Dogman consistently defeats his enemies and sends them to prison. Unfortunately there are a few negative tones, as the two boys in the book that are writing the Dogman story tend to be rebellious to school rules. They disregard their teacher’s wants and are a little disrespectful in the way they treat their teachers. There is nothing wrong with being creative and having fun, but the attitude of disregard for what authority wants cannot be good.
Overall: 2½/5 Below Average: Because of a lack of moral and the quality of the art, below average is about where I would rank it. It would make a good book to read just for pure relaxation and shallow entertainment. I believe boys from age’s six to ten would like it best.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Some Inappropriate Content: There is a sketch drawing of someone’s butt. A cat pulls down multiple people’s pants and skirts, though their underwear is still on. A man once sits in his office in his underwear. A man is shown “scoot[ing his] butt on the carpet with joy” and says you will too. Characters watch a video of Dogman pooping, though only Dogman’s upper body is seen. There is a brief appearance of some shirtless men at the beach. Captain Underpants is mentioned.
There are several accounts of crude and potty humor, such as one appearance of poop, two of pee, and one of bird droppings, including a man holding poop and giving a high five while holding, spreading it throughout the air. When the whole world is turned “stupid,” a newsman says “Our top story: Me go boom boom in my panties.”
Violence: 2/5 Some Light Violenc: There are explosions of buildings, a car, and a robot, and a dog and man set off a bomb. A cat tries to crush dogs with a falling, spiked ceiling, but fails. A dog throws a bone at someone’s head five times. A man is briefly seen hitting himself with hammer. A character slaps himself in exasperation. Dogman happily jumps on a man several times, and once the man happily jumps on him. A cat gets whacked in the butt and head by various playground equipment, like “The Swing Set Smacker,” “The Seesaw Smoosher,” and “Spring Break.” A man trips over a dog. Sentiment hotdogs get eaten, and a living balloon pops. Characters fly through the roof twice. There is a store that sells bombs. “Kung fu,” “kickin’,” and “can’t punch” are used to describe the features of a man and his dog. A schools motto is “We put the ‘ow’ in knowledge.” “War” is used for descriptive purposes. One face in the “How to Draw” section is a character’s “Ouch!” face.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: ½/5 Slight Misuse: “Gee” and “geez” are each misused once.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 1/5 Slight Disturbing Content: When a man and his dog are near death and covered in bandages, their heads are switched, creating Dogman, though this is not shown. The stitches are seen on Dogman throughout the book. Dogman once tries to bite a cat, but fails. Characters cry a couple of times. Some living hotdogs light fires that they once call “raging infernos of death” and threaten to destroy the town, but the fires are tiny and their threats completely disregarded. A character burns his hands a little when he tries to catch something on fire. Some kids are shown in three panels running from various bad guys, one trying to “zap” them.
Religious Issues: ½/5 A man thinks that an invisible character is a ghost, and one claims that some stores are haunted, though this is not true.
Magic: 1/5 Some Possible Magic: A character uses invisible spray and living spray, the latter to make things come to life. Whether this is magic or not is debatable.
Others: Off panel, a character gives another one a cigar. A cat is once shown with tattoos on its arms. One chapter is called “The Franks Awaken,” probably based off “The Force Awakens” from Star Wars, though there is no other connection. A note to some children’s parents says that they should use medical drugs to get their children to behave, though it is likely that this doesn’t happen. One character says once “Get ready to roomba! (rumba)” A “stupid” person calls a male cat a “lady.”
Overall: 1½/5 Almost All Ages Appropriate: The nudity and potty humor are probably the most controversial things. Morally, it’s a bit difficult to pin. If one is against humor that is on the crude side, I would say to completely skip this book. If a person doesn’t mind jokes about such things, I would recommend the book for children six and older.