DRAWN & QUARTERED
Panels from a January installment of "Pooch Café" showcase its star, Poncho, the canine on the right, and his best friend, Boomer.
It’s a dog’s life in new comic strip
Hawaii's rain doesn't daunt "Pooch Café" artist Paul Gilligan
Our newest Sunday comics section contributor, Paul Gilligan of "Pooch Café," actually stopped by a couple of months ago, during a visit from Toronto. The friendly Canuck from out northeast was here to both pitch his dog-gone-funny strip and to do some "research" on a possible move west to the islands.
These features join the Star-Bulletin's Sunday print edition lineup:
» "Pooch Cafe": Paul Gilligan's pet-friendly comic strip will replace "Boondocks" for cartoonist Aaron McGruder's six-month hiatus. See story, E4
» Scrivener's Sudoku: A puzzle designed by Mitchell K. Dwyer, a teacher at ASSETS High School, incorporates a local trivia question. Find it with the weekly Sudoku Monster on E10 and online at starbulletin.com.
» "Clay's Answers": Clay Thompson of the Arizona Republic answers all sorts of questions about the world we live in. His column replaces "Strange but True" on E3.
Even a little inclement weather in Hawaii wouldn't deter him. When told of the fallout from the rain of biblical proportions we've been suffering through of late, ain't no big thing to Gilligan.
"A little sewage slime can't cover over the buoyant attitude of the citizens of Hawaii," he said. "I tried saying hello to strangers on the street back here in Canada, and they just look at me like I'm nuts.
"I'm back here (in my downtown apartment) in Toronto for at least the summer. When it starts getting cold here, I'm hoping to come back again to put down a few more roots and a few more surfboard scrapes."
Gilligan's comic strip centers on the life of Poncho, who has to cope with his master Chazz's new wife, Carmen. She has broken the "sacred bond between a man and his dog" when the two move into her house filled with -- ugh! -- evil cats.
The opportunistic Poncho finds solace and sympathy, however, in the titular cafe, and mainly his best bud, the hypercaffeinated Boomer.
Cartoonist Paul Gilligan's self-portrait.
Other canine characters are "Poo Poo, the emasculated male bichon frise, and Droolia, the female bull mastiff who's got a crush on him. ... In the wake of Paris Hilton, I'm thinking of bringing in a tiny dog who's confined to its master's purse."
A fish also figures into Gilligan's fanciful strip, "actually the smartest (animal) in the strip," he said. "He's sort of Zen. You'd sort of have to be to float in a single square foot of water for your entire life."
As for the cats, the dogs see them as "just faceless, lazy blobs, and you can't even tell one lousy cat from the other. They don't even speak the same language. In the strip, the dogs and humans understand each other, but nobody speaks cat." (A running joke in "Pooch Café" is the dogs trying to build a giant catapult that would launch all of the planet's filthy felines into the sun.)
Besides counting classic strips as "Bloom County" and "Calvin and Hobbes" as influences, Gilligan also named the writing styles of television shows "The Simpsons" and "Seinfeld."
"I think pretty much everything comedic today owes something to those shows, even if indirectly. Also John Kricfalusi of 'Ren and Stimpy' and Jack Kirby, the king of superhero art."
Gilligan said he's "supremely delighted" to have Poncho joining the Star-Bulletin's lineup. "Poncho and I are looking forward to embracing the aloha-ha spirit for years to come."