Beasts of Burden: Animal Rites

Writer(s): Evan Dorkin
Artist(s): Jill Thompson
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
ISBN: 978-1595825131
Price: $19.99
Page count: 184
Year Released: 2010
Status: in print
Original Source: The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings; The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft; The Dark Horse Book of the Dead; The Dark Horse Book of Monsters; Beasts of Burden 1-4
Other Collected Edition(s): n/a
Genres: adventure; fantasy; horror; humor; mystery/crime; short stories; teen/young adult
Recommended for Fans Of: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Possibly Objectionable Material: mild coarse language; gory violence
If You Like This Book, Try:
Also in This Series: n/a

Plot Summary
Beasts of Burden follows the adventures of five dogs and a cat as they learn to protect the small town of Burden from supernatural threats. This collection of eight short stories begins with "Stray," in which a so-called Wise Dog is called in to exorcise a haunted (dog) house. Subsequent stories have our canine (and feline) heroes battling a coven of witches and their familiars, a pack of zombie dogs, a werewolf, a giant frog demon, a human murderer, a clan of sinister sewer rats, and a powerful undead human in a grand finale at the local graveyard.

Three of the stories in this collection won Eisner awards: Thompson won Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (Interior) for "Stray" in 2004, "Unfamiliar" won Best Short Story in 2005, and Thompson won Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (Interior) for "A Dog and His Boy" in 2007.

My Own 2 Cents
One thing this collection most definitely delivered is fantastic artwork by Jill Thompson. Her skills with a watercolor brush are unmatched in comics. With the exception of the heartfelt story about the werewolf ("A Dog and His Boy"), the stories themselves are a bit repetitive, and the dog characters aren't particularly well-rounded (Ace, the Siberian husky leader of the group, Pugs, the smart alec pug, and Orphan, the cat, are the only ones with substantial personalities), but Thompson's beautiful art infuses the dogs/cats with such life that the book's shortcomings are easy to overlook.

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in dogs, cats, and monsters. Because of the occasional coarse language and gore I would say that this book isn't recommended for younger children, but older kids should enjoy it.