Review by Ian Keogh
Love is the oddly chosen title for a series of graphic novels looking at a day in the life of members of the animal kingdom. It’s justified on the title page of the opening volume via an explanation that in the animal kingdom there is no love or hate, just a supreme balance that can be considered universal or divine, an elemental love that mankind can never experience. The logic of that is questionable, but can be ignored because what Frédéric Brrémaud and Federico Bertolucci produce is an artistic and educational treat.
This look at the mastiff dog is the fifth in the series, and the first to be published in English near enough simultaneously with the French language release. While mastiff dogs are found all over the world, Brrémaud sets this story in Australia, and a neat starting touch is the mastiff seen early wearing a dog collar, identifying it as a domesticated animal rather than a creature used to existing in the wild. That collar is key to the adventure as Brrémaud’s starting point is the ability of dogs to find their way home over incredible distances, and this dog’s journey begins with the death of its owner from a snake bite as seen on the sample art. After attempting to protect the body from wild dogs, the long and difficult route home begins.
As with all books in the Love series, Mastiff can be a rapid read as it concentrates exclusively on animals, so there’s no dialogue. Take the time, though, to soak in Bertolucci’s luscious art. His creatures and locations glow with life, all attractively rendered, and he brings out the strangeness of Australian wildlife.
Will the mastiff find his way home? Well, that would be telling. What can be revealed is that anyone who’s enjoyed the previous books will find full value here.