The Life and Times of Genghis Dhag mini-comic
Writer/Artist/Comic artist: Erik Denis
Publisher: Genghis Khan Publishing Yurt
Erik Denis is a civil servant who loves comics, loves his family and loves his dog. And those loves have found their way onto the printed page — pages he printed up himself in the form of a mini-comic. Denis’s narrator professes not to be a dog person, but his writing captures the amusing quirks of a beagle’s behavior, not to mention the precociousness of toddlers. Genghis Dhag is a charming collection of one-page strips, charming enough to give the flaws in the storytelling a run for their money. In the end, the cuteness and humor don’t overcome the overly simple artwork and disjointed flow, but neither do the flaws eclipse the strengths. Ultimately, I think Denis’s future forays into comics storytelling would be well served by collaboration, by teaming with an artist who has a less amateurish style or even some fellow writers who can serve as de facto editors.
A guy who’s never much cared for dogs ends up buying a beagle because he’s a caring man who’s married to a woman who does love them. Named Genghis, the dog wastes no time getting into trouble, and he soon finds accomplices in the couple’s two children, Echo and Maximillion. It seems the beagle, though lovable, is also a willful breed, and he loves to bolt from the house leash-less. Of course, he always returns; his master thinks it’s for the food, but there’s a better chance it’s because the dog dearly loves his family.
Denis appears to have used a rudimentary illustration program to have created the art for this book, something like MS Paint or the like. Either that, or he used thick markers. The result is a style that one could describe as crudely cubist. It’s limiting, as Denis’s characters could stand to be more expressive. The humor still gets through, but art seems more utilitarian than it needs to be. The colors are bright, which is in keeping with the tone of the book, but they’re way too bright, garish even. I think part of the problem lies with the production values. The colors — including the thick, black linework — bleed, and the lack of definition threatens clarity.
If I had to give a high-concept description of this mini-comic, I’d have to call it For Better or For Worse from Farley’s point of view. Denis diverges from that somewhat, notably to pay tribute to some classic Peanuts strips. Genghis Dhag is at its strongest when it’s about the dog and the family. The tangents interrupt a sense of flow and narrative, and there’s really not much of that to be found in the first place. There’s potential here; Denis just needs to refine his writing and overhaul the visuals. 5/10
Click here to learn more about this mini-comic and its creator.