To be honest, I’ve never had a dog. People are often shocked when I say that, as if dog ownership is a universal experience. Now, I’ve had several cats. (This is when dog owners typically roll their eyes.) But I can still relate to Nicole J. Georges’ hair-pulling experiences with Beija, a troubled shar-pei/corgi mix she rescued when she was sixteen years old. She struggles to integrate the fearful dog into her life while she grapples with the trials and tribulations of growing up. Although Georges’ illustrations are effervescent and her words are scalpel sharp, the narrative feels overly familiar.
Many comics readers grumble about the glut of superhero stories published every year; however, the same can now be said about graphic memoirs. On my shelf, I spot Art Spiegelman, Alison Bechdel, Marzena Sowa, Adrian Tomine, David B., Marjane Satrapi, and Yoshihiro Tatsumi, to name a few. This isn’t to devalue the work or the experiences of these talented writers and artists, but to acknowledge why Fetch did not resonate with me. I’m honestly burned out on the banal nature of the genre and the tropes of human-animal relationship stories: person attempts to change animal; animal changes person instead.
Ultimately, with Georges’ Fetch, the narrative moves at a sluggish pace, for she quickly sidesteps more gripping topics (her relationship with her parents, for example), and instead focuses on the minutiae (and clichés) of dog ownership. Fetch, however, does offer a gateway for readers unfamiliar with the medium: the dog lover looking for a new read, the parent who naively believes comics are all spandex and uppercuts, the jaded punk searching for fair representation. In that sense, Fetch serves to bridge the divide between mainstream literature and comics. But for those of us who frequently traverse said bridge, Georges’ graphic memoir is uninspired. –Sean Arenas (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)