The Strip

Batman and Robin. Captain America and Bucky. Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa. The mentor and the neophyte. It's a tradition with a long and rich history. And therefore, obviously something just waiting to be goofed on! I wasn't the first, I know I won't be the last, but way back in 1980, I offered up my attempt at a gut-busting cliche busting sidekick scenario. I'm talking about the saga of The Dog and his accidental partner, Pup. Replete with as many canine derived puns, jokes, and silly situations as I could possibly cram into ten pages, this McGruff in Spandex had his one and only adventure published within the pages of Smilin' Ed #1.

Allow me to pause for a digression concerning the grinning rodent who lent his name to the publication that housed The Dog -- the Dog's house, as it were (sorry -- old habits die hard). Conceived as a showcase for a very talented and unfairly overlooked cartoonist by the name of Raoul Vezina, the series -- which would total four black and white issues -- was issued by Fantaco Enterprises back in the early eighties. At that time, Fantaco was an Albany based comics store that was attempting to branch out into publishing.
We had recently relocated to nearby Troy so Lynn could attend R.P.I., and having had become friendly with my local funny book merchants, enlisted them to unleash my second collection of "Dateline:@!?*" strips on an unsuspecting public when my original guys, Eclipse Enterprises, began dragging their feet. Apparently emboldened by having a copy of HEMBECK 1980 (as we called it, thinking, oh, how modern THAT sounds) in his hands, owner Tom Skulan turned to a great and unexploited resource who was standing right there behind the counter, i. e. Raoul.
And since I'd helped precipitate this whole madness, I was enlisted to contribute some pages. This I gladly did in the form of The Dog. And while I had yet another story in Smilin' Ed's fourth issue (which incidentally was inked by another Albany-Troy local, teenaged Bill Anderson, a young fellow who went on in ensuing years to embellish many a top book for most of the major companies), that short feature had nothing to do with the Flea-Infested Foe of Evil. Sadly, Raoul never made the mark we all thought he would have and should have. He died unexpectedly just a few short years later of health problems, shocking all of his friends. And if you knew him, you were his friend. He was a sweet guy -- talented, too -- and even though I've moved on from the people I met while roaming the Capital District, I can can assure you, we all think about Mr. V. from time to time, and we miss him.

Until now, unless you owned a copy of that two decade old comic, you'd probably never heard of The Dog. But, thanks to the miracle of the Internet, that no longer has to be the case! So, despite some outdated references (Jimmy Carter was still just barely president when I concocted this, and Lorne Greene was not only alive, but a very visible spokesman for a dog food company), some dodgy lettering, and artwork that occasionally makes me want to close my eyes and run screaming, I hope you'll enjoy reading the, tale (it's not easy stopping once you get started, y'know) of The Dog. It's always been one of my favorites, and any number of times over the years, I'd considered a furry follow-up for the poochy pair, but with no certain outlet lined up to showcase it in, I've always managed to put that notion aside. Now however, who knows? A fresh Dog episode would likely please my brother-in-law, Bob Moss, no end. He's long championed the idea, at times appearing absolutely -- dare I say it? -- rabid about me revisiting the lair of the Kanine Krimefighters. Well, no promises, bro, but I hope you appreciate me throwing you this bone!?!...

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