Comics review: Mutts Go Green – Earth-friendly tips and comic strips by Patrick McConnell

(cover image courtesy Andrews McMeel Publishing)

Mutts Go Green is a special kids’ collection of the popular comic strip MUTTS, featuring themes of ecology, environmental friendliness, and animal education.

This special collection of MUTTS comics for kids includes eco-friendly lessons on how to keep the environment clean and ways to help create a greener future for our furry friends and future generations. Mutts Go Green draws on Patrick McDonnell’s 25-year career of writing and illustrating heartwarming comics starring Earl the dog, Mooch the cat, and a host of other adorable animal friends. (synopsis courtesy Andrews McMeel Publishing)

MUTTS is one of those comics that restores the soul with every charming, funny, heartfelt strip.

It has always made me feel better as these first two paragraphs from a review of a MUTTS collection makes abundantly and happily clear.

Reading MUTTS, by cartoonist, playwright and author Patrick McDonnell, is never not a joy.

To co-opt a phrase popularised by Snoopy from Peanuts by the legendary Charles M. Schulz – this is okay you would surmise since Schulz called MUTTS “one of the best comic strips of all time” – happiness is falling into 200 pages of Mutts comics and not emerging until you have luxuriated in each and every one of McDonnell’s artistic creations.

Not only does this most exemplary of comic strips wear its animal-loving, pet-celebrating heart very much on its cat fur-covered sleeve but it goes to great lengths to argue passionately for the vital need to preserve the environment, to treat all animals well and to realise our interconnectedness to the natural world.

Far from being some sort of tired polemic by a true believer, MUTTS is one of those rare examples where the message is seamlessly woven in the storyline, proof that a spoonful of sugar, or in this case, a hearty dose of Earl and Mooch, really does make the medicine go down.

In Mutts Go Green, which is ostensibly designed for kids but which will make any adults heart sing with happiness, McDonnell intersperses comic strips that directly address animal and environmental welfare with smart, pithy, easy-to-understand tips on caring for the natural world around us.

(image courtesy Andrews McMeel Publishing)

Given the fact that kids are generally much more receptive to new messaging that rusted-on, set-in-their-ways adults, it makes sense to use a publication like Mutts Go Green to talk about why saving planets, animals and all life on Earth is so vitally important.

While McDonnell, who is a vegan, does make a strong case for taking animals right off the menu, the advice in this uniformly delightful book is presented in such a way that anyone can take a look at the list of suggestions continued within and make a decision about which ones best work for them.

Granted, the more we can do, the better off our planetary home will be, and certainly there is a strong sense that we need do all we can, as quickly as we can, but there is never any point where you feel like you’re being harangued.

In fact, so beguilingly presented is the messaging that you reach the end emboldened by osmosis to go through the various lists and take on as many as is practical.

After all, when you spend over 170 pages with Mooch and Earl, and their menagerie of beautiful animal friends, both wild and domesticated – McDonnell is as much an advocative for animals in shelters as he is for those in jungles, grasslands and swamps – you can help but want to do everything in your power to make a difference to their welfare and the world in which they live.

Mutts Go Green makes it very clear that their world is our world, and while it’s easy in our heavily urbanised world to think the natural world and its woes are fare removed from us, the fact of the matter is that everything on this planet is inextricably linked and we owe it to ourselves as much as the animals and plants around us to change how we do things.

MUTTS has always had a thoughtful, caring soul, and it’s one of those things that make the comic strip such an appealing joy to read, and it is on full glorious display in Mutts Go Green, a heartwarmingly encouraging collection that speaks humourously and well to the desperate need to love animals and plants as much as we love the material fruits of civilisation (more really since we can’t breathe shopped goods) and to change our lives to make Earth a better and more nurturing place to live for everyone.

(image courtesy Andrews McMeel Publishing)

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