Allison's Book Bag

Comic Strip Creator Patrick McDonnell

Posted on: January 16, 2014

PatrickMcDonnellIt’s been years since I have taken interest in a comic strip but I am now a fan of Mutts. It follows the adventures of a dog, Earl, and a cat, Mooch. The two pets interact with each other, their human owners, and a large cast of neighborhood animals.  Creator Patrick McDonnell has received numerous awards for this strip, including the National Cartoonists Society’s highest honor: The Reuben. All biographical information about him here comes from his website Mutts or Wikipedia’s biography of McDonnell.

McDonnell grew up in New Jersey. After graduating from Edison High School in 1974, McDonnell attended the School of Visual Arts on scholarship, graduating in 1978. McDonnell went on to have a successful career as an artist. He began as a magazine illustrator, drawing for columns and regularly contributing to big-name and varied publications such as Forbes, Reader’s Digest, Sports Illustrated, and Time. His work has been animated for television commercials, most notably a PSA for the NY Philharmonic. He would frequently include a dog in the background of his illustrations.

In 2005, McDonnell embarked on a children’s book career. His first children’s book, which featured the MUTTS characters, The Gift of Nothing, became a New York Times bestseller. He created two more books before Hug Time, featuring a kitten named Jules who goes around the world hugging endangered species, which landed on the 2007 best seller list. Since then, he has produced two additional children’s books, including the 2012 Caldecott Honor winning Me, Jane. The biography describes the growing up of naturalist Jane Goodall and her awakening curiosity about the lives of animals around her.

In his personal life, McDonnell is concerned with the welfare of animals and the environment. His characters have been enlisted by the United States Marines (2006 Toys for Tots holiday poster), the American Library Association (2007 ‘Read!’ poster), and by The HSUS (humane postage stamps). The MUTTS characters appear on the New Jersey Animal Friendly license plates which fund state pet population programs. The 2007-2008 MAZDASPEED Team featured MUTTS-themed vehicles promoting pet adoption and the work of The Humane Society of the United States. McDonnell is also on the board of many relevant charities.

MuttsStripMcDonnell and his wife Karen live in New Jersey with their dog Amelie, and their former feral cat, Not Ootie. Their Jack Russell rescue, Earl, who was the inspiration and constant muse for the Mutts character of the same name, died in November 2007 after being with Patrick for eighteen years.

On occasion, the Mutts strip focuses on animal welfare issues. Some of these special series of comic strips are later turned into books, such as “Shelter Stories” which I’ll review this week. Prior to my post, I’ll also write about one recent experience at a no-kill shelter. Save the dates: January 17-18!

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Summer Reviews

Books can take connect us with strangers, take us to unique places, and introduce us to new ideas. They can also offer hope in a chaotic world. And so I must share what I read!

Each week, I’ll introduce you to religious books, Advanced Reader Copies, animal books, or diversity books. Some I’ll review as singles and others as part of round-ups. Just ahead, there will be reviews of:

  • Joni: The unforgettable story of a young woman’s struggle against quadriplegia & depression by Joni Eareckson
  • The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary by Samantha Glen
  • Brothers in hope : the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan–refugees by Mary Williams
  • The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee

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