Review by Frank Plowright
In Love and Drool Mike Norton introduced the loveable giant-sized Battlepug, the single-minded Kinmundian barbarian warrior, and hobo Scrabbly. He expands the cast considerably for This Savage Bone, adding foul-mouthed mini mage Bryony, and the very capable Sasha, once Captain of the Leahman City Guard. Unfortunately for her, she was lured away on a fake mission and there’s now no longer a city to guard. There’s now also a mastermind foe, Catwulf, and therefore a quest, and all of the additions give far more focus to Battlepug. Catwulf explains the multiple giant creatures we’ve seen. He creates them to serve his destructive purposes, and Norton uses that to tie into warnings from vague nature spirits as to the purpose of his warrior’s mission.
Comedy adventure isn’t the easiest of genres to master, but the fine cartooning and whimsical charm took Battlepug a long way over the first volume. This Savage Bone introduces the substance the bigger story required, providing a background for so much that needed to be taken for granted before. The cartooning still impresses, clean and clear, with Norton having a talent for character design as well as inflating creatures well beyond their natural size. Both Bryony and Sasha are created to have an instant appeal, and we still have the cheesecake pages of the naked Moll narrating events to her two normal sized pups (who talk).
The irritating Scrabbly has a lesser role in This Savage Bone, supplanted to some extent by all the new characters, and there are some nicely set up jokes, with the ghostly boatmen standing out. By the end of the book the warrior and friends seem to have run into trouble, and that plays out in Sit. Stay. Die. Or you can buy the entire series as the Battlepug Compugdium.