Cartoon animal comics have been making a big comeback over the past year, with both The Autumnlands and The Humans ending up on The A.V. Club’s Best of Comics 2015 list by using anthropomorphized animals to tell intense, mature narratives. The new Boom! series Kennel Block Blues continues that trend by casting cartoon dogs, cats, and rabbits as inmates in a prison drama, and this sneak preview of the first issue (running in the back of this week’s new Boom! releases) highlights a contrast of light and dark elements as it shows new inmate Oliver’s introduction to the Jackson State Kennel.
Ryan Ferrier’s script jumps from a goofy musical interpretation of Oliver’s experience to the gritty reality of entering the kennel, and the art by Daniel Bayliss and colorist Adam Metcalfe marks those strong tonal shifts by exaggerating the characterizations and using a candy-colored palette during the musical bits. Colin Bell’s lettering further emphasizes that contrast by playing with the size and color of the letters when Oliver is in his fantasy world, which helps capture the sound of the song without a melody. It’s a novel take on the cartoon animal comic, and that tonal dynamic introduces a lot of intriguing narrative opportunities for the Kennel Block Blues creative team to explore when the book launches in February.