Discover David Lynch’s Bizarre & Minimalist Comic Strip, The Angriest Dog in the World (1983–1992)

Most David Lynch fans dis­cov­er him through his films. But those of us who read alter­na­tive week­ly news­pa­pers in their 1980s and 90s hey­day may well have first encoun­tered his work in anoth­er medi­um entire­ly: the com­ic strip. Like many of the best-known exam­ples of the form, Lynch’s com­ic strip stars an ani­mal, specif­i­cal­ly a dog, but a dog “so angry he can­not move. He can­not eat. He can­not sleep. He can just bare­ly growl. Bound so tight­ly with ten­sion and anger, he approach­es the state of rig­or mor­tis.” That text, which pre­pared read­ers for a read­ing expe­ri­ence some way from Mar­maduke, intro­duced each and every edi­tion of The Angri­est Dog in the World, which ran between 1983 and 1992.

Dur­ing that entire time, the strip’s art­work nev­er changed either: four pan­els in which the tit­u­lar dog strains against a rope staked down in a sub­ur­ban back­yard, in the last of which night has fall­en. The sole vari­a­tion came in the word bub­bles that occa­sion­al­ly emerged from the win­dow of the house, pre­sum­ably rep­re­sent­ing the voice of the dog’s own­ers.

You can see a few exam­ples at Lynch­net and also on this blog. “If every­thing is real… then noth­ing is real as well,” it says one week. On anoth­er: “It must be clear to even the non-math­e­mati­cian that the things in this world just don’t add up to beans.” Or, in a nod to the region of The Angri­est Dog in the World’s home paper the LA Read­er: “Bill… who is this San Andreas? I can’t believe it’s all his fault.”

“At some point David Lynch called up the edi­tor at the time, James Vow­ell, and said, ‘Hi, I’d like to do a com­ic strip for you,’” says for­mer Read­er edi­tor Richard Gehr as quot­ed by John F. Kel­ly at Spooky Comics. Every week there­after, Lynch would phone the Read­er to dic­tate the text of the lat­est strip. “We would give it to some­body in the pro­duc­tion depart­ment and they would White Out the pan­els from the week before and write in a new, quote/unquote… gag.” The clip from The Incred­i­bly Strange Film Show’s 1990 episode on Lynch above shows the evo­lu­tion of the process: some­one, one of Lynch’s assis­tants or per­haps Lynch him­self, would reg­u­lar­ly slip under the Read­er’s office door an enve­lope con­tain­ing word bal­loons writ­ten and ready to paste into the strip. (Dan­ger­ous Minds finds an inter­view where Vow­ell describes anoth­er pro­duc­tion method alto­geth­er, involv­ing wax paper.)

Lynch came up with the words, but what about the images? “I assume he drew the first iter­a­tion,” says Gehr as quot­ed by Kel­ly. “I don’t even know if the sec­ond and third [pan­els] were hand drawn. Those could have been mimeo­graphed too or some­thing.” The style does bear a resem­blance to that of the town map Lynch drew to pitch Twin Peaks to ABC. The atten­tive fan can also find a host of oth­er con­nec­tions between The Angri­est Dog in the World and Lynch’s oth­er work. That fac­to­ry in the back­ground, for instance, looks like a place he’d pho­to­graph, or even a set­ting of Eraser­head, dur­ing whose frus­trat­ing years-long shoot he came up with the strip’s con­cept in the first place. “I had tremen­dous anger,” says Lynch in David Bre­skin’s book Inner Views. “And I think when I began med­i­tat­ing, one of the first things that left was a great chunk of that.” If only the Angri­est Dog in the World could have found it in him­self to do the same.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Lynch Draws a Map of Twin Peaks (to Help Pitch the Show to ABC)

The Paint­ings of Filmmaker/Visual Artist David Lynch

David Lynch’s Pho­tographs of Old Fac­to­ries

“The Art of David Lynch”— How Rene Magritte, Edward Hop­per & Fran­cis Bacon Influ­enced David Lynch’s Cin­e­mat­ic Vision

David Lynch’s New ‘Crazy Clown Time’ Video: Intense Psy­chot­ic Back­yard Crazi­ness (NSFW)

The Incred­i­bly Strange Film Show: Revis­it 1980s Doc­u­men­taries on David Lynch, John Waters, Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owsky & Oth­er Film­mak­ers

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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