Reading Pile: Love: The Mastiff HC
The fifth installment of Frederic Brremaud and Federico Bertolucci's Love series has finally arrived and it's just as beautiful as you would expect. If you're unfamiliar with the series published by Magnetic Press and you enjoy lavishly painted art, silent comics, or animal documentaries then I heartily recommend checking it out. The previous volumes include Tiger, Fox, Lion, and Dinosaur, with each book being completely self-contained so you can pick and choose or jump in at whatever volume suits your fancy. We've recently hit the 10 year anniversary mark, so after a bit of wait since the last volume we've been gifted the goodest of good boys, The Mastiff.
The Love books generally follow a wandering narrative that's anchored by one particular animal. In this case it's a lone mastiff whose master has been bitten by a poisonous snake. And this is the one time I will be snarky at the book and its back cover text because then that means the dude should have been ok for the most part unless he bit the snake back.
Now alone and in the wild, the mastiff slowly attempts to make its way home while being hunted by a pack of dingoes. Concurrently we get a range of short snippets that follow other animals, specifically recurring visits on a platypus and the potential predators watching its nest.
The narrative flow of the series is part of the charm for me as it's an opportunity for Bertolucci to expand on the scenery and wildlife of any given volume. It's also a nice way to foreshadow the environment that the main star of the book will soon engage with, giving the story a nice organic feeling of development.
There's also a nice sense of payoff once the different paths converge, giving you that little narrative boost that wouldn't occur in a more realistic nature film. Because let's face it, this is another sad dog comic and if I have to bear through one of these there better be some sort of narrative payoff to making the poor precious cinnamon roll suffer this sort of journey.
Seriously, he protects his dead master, a pack of kangaroos, a wombat and her baby, and then the platypus family. Truly the goodest of precious babies.
This volume clocks in at 80 pages for $18 bucks, and like the previous volumes it measures a nice 8.6x11 to do the artwork justice. The book also includes a small sketch gallery in the back along with some educational info about climate change and the effects of global warming across Australia. These all make a really striking set, so I definitely recommend them for artbook collectors as well. They are noted as all-ages appropriate, but I would just caution that there's a fair amount of natural violence and death. Basically, if you're ok with letting your kids watch a nature show you're getting the same level.
And besides, it's all worth it just to follow the story of a good, good boy.