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Dogs and Water

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  912 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Dogs and Water chronicles a piece of a lonely journey, without origin or destination. A young man wandering a nameless path has only a stuffed bear as a companion, which inertly endures his desperation, anger, and musings along the way. The landscape is cold and bleak with few landmarks, and offers only precarious encounters with animals and armed men. These interactions a ...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published August 7th 2007 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published 2004)
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Watchmen by Alan MooreThe Complete Maus by Art SpiegelmanV for Vendetta by Alan MooreThe Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil GaimanThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Best Graphic Novels
361st out of 2,049 books — 4,591 voters
Big Questions by Anders NilsenMarble Season by Gilbert HernándezThe Acme Novelty Library #20 by Chris WareSummer Blonde by Adrian TomineThe Push Man and Other Stories by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
The Best of Drawn and Quarterly
45th out of 94 books — 2 voters

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Community Reviews

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Beautifully depressing. It's hard to put a finger on exactly what is so depressing in this book, but the melancholy seems to transcend the confines of the story and hit at a nerve. Similar in theme and feeling to Cormac McCarthy's The Road.
A short graphic novel, taking part in some kind of desert wasteland (maybe post-apocalyptic?). The drawings are simple, reminding me of Douglas Coupland's drawings in "Life After God," but where that book had some hope this one didn't so much.

I gave it two stars on the first reading, but three after thinking about it and reading through it again, and thought about four. It's rather hopeless, but I was reminded of a quote by Flannery O'Connor, saying something about how people without hope don't
Robert Beveridge
Anders Nilsen, Dogs and Water (Drawn and Quarterly, 2007)

Dogs and Water is quite unlike any other graphic novel I've ever run across; if you turn your head and squint right, it's got a bit of Renee French running through it, but without a shred of the absurdity French brings to her wonderful little books. Or Shaun Tan without the fantasy elements, or the hope. Nilsen (Monologues for the Coming Plague) has crafted something here that's deeply depressing, lonely, and yet compelling enough that onc
Renee Alberts
On one family vacation, we ended up in the emergency room, waiting for doctors to remove a large bead from my three-year-old sister’s ear. When she emerged, hearing clearly again, she had only one explanation: “The bear did it.” We never met the imaginary bear, but we never figured out how the bead got in her ear, either. Anders Nilsen’s Dogs and Water is a little like that.

Nilsen renders his landscape in sparse black and white drawings that limit details to the most suggestive elements, wildly
I saw somewhere - either in the description on goodreads, or the inset of the book - the word "minimalist." That really hit the nail on its stylistic head.

I don't know if you all come across books that, once you finish it you say to yourself, "huh... I could give that book anywhere from 1 star to 5... How does that even happen?"

I can't answer the "How does that happen" part, but I felt that way.

The book felt like a dream about loneliness, only there seemed to be dream sequences (drawn with blue
Anders Nilsen builds grandiose emotional architecture from something as simple as the white space that goes unused in the borders of these desolate drawings. The surrealism of this graphic novel approaches dream chronicle, but there is something very resonant about the idea of an aimless journey that feels relatable, regardless of station in life or religious value. It's the kind of story that leaves plenty of room for its reader to interpret, and it's clear that Nilsen wanted to leave these pos ...more
Dogs and Water is a challenging work, and constitutes a fine argument as to why modern comics are fully capable of making significant artistic statements. Nilsen delivers a stirring emotional tale with a carefully measured pace, and employs substantial white space and stretches of wordless action that collectively serve to draw the reader slowly, but thoroughly, into this highly original coming-of-age tale. Given the sparse and violent wasteland that his protagonist navigates, Nilsen does a trem ...more
Sad, lonely, surreal... and really funny. This guys traveling down a seemingly endless road toward a vast emptiness with nothing but a teddy bear strapped to his backpack and a sack lunch. The "conversations" he has with the bear are the best part, particularly when, too wounded too carry on, the protagonist asks the bear if he should untie him, so that he can carry on without him. Bahaha.

Visually satisfying, but nothin' fancy. Simple line drawings and perfectly sparse language (lots of ums, uhs
Emilia P
Oh strange eerie bad dream comics. Anders Nilsen you're kind of in the same school as John Porcellino and I'm really learning to like that school, but ... there could be a little more of a point, a little bit more of the disclosure of your own sadness/despair/whatever. Nonetheless, beautiful, good use of negative space (fancy commentary, me!). I'll keep absentmindedly picking your sad stuff up at the library.
Try this sometime: read this while in transit; headphones on, "Yanqui UXO" by Godspeed You Black Emperor playing: great soundtrack for it.

In the end, I was left with 2 sentiments: I would have loved this more back in my 20s; if I had known they were going to publish stuff like this now, I'd have made more of an effort in my 20s.

Like the book, we walk on, dogs at our heels.

Let me get my AK...
the art is really wonderful, but the story isn't there. while the words and pictures succeed in evoking loneliness, the (sort of) endless journey of life, the need for companionship, the brutality of human contact, none of it ever coalesced into something that i will take very far with me. but really: the art is beautiful.
The best description I found of this was written on the back of the book - "Nilsen uses spare renderings that will leave you wondering if you've if you've read a book or walked through a dream." Haunting and strange, and I'm not really sure what the point of the book is, but it does leave you thinking about it.
Isn't it a rule of storytelling that if something might be a dream, you don't reference it possibly being a dream?
We could tell.
Disparate, conflicting moments, three distinct art styles, and all.

This book has a few of the moments I love in artsy graphic novels, where the genre (interrelation of word and text, frame placement on the pages, page turns, stylistic switches, etc) is used in masterful, surprising ways. But then there was the "wake up" line, and it's so violent (without reason I've dis
the cover of a dog holding a rifle in its mouth is probably the best part of this book. other than that, the story just kinda sucks- fine concept, no real substance. i like the dude's art, and if he has another project that i find randomly in the library, i'll check it out
In an early scene in Dogs and Water our central character picks a fist fight with a buck deer for biting his teddy bear. The dear wins because it has no fists but a clobbering rack of antlers. Later in this Euripides-like journey, our character runs into a pack of dogs that actually eat his teddy bear and then befriends him, welcoming him to the pack. They take him to the buck who may have antler pounded him into the ground, who they have already started to eat. The scene where he sleeps with th ...more
Feb 21, 2008 Anders rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Anders by: Jacob Huelster
Dogs and Water is a chilling, existential graphic novel about just that. The unnamed protagonist is wandering through a vast but flexible landscape, probably of his own imagination, with a teddy bear strapped to a backpack for company. The nature of his journey is unclear and mysterious, and his encounters with animals and people he meets along the way are just as elusive. The book is simultaneously very personal and very distant, and in its totality shows a quiet, desperate beauty.

I've never re
I read some good surreal comics, e.g. Frank by Jim Woodering and The arrival by Shaun Tan. But Dogs and water is not one of them. The writer tries to use an aimless journey to create a sensation of lonesome and hopeless. I get it, everyone can get it. It's so-o-o lacking in imagination, even the metaphor of the journey is a cliche. Sadly the simple art contributes no good either. All the components show this work an easy fast food pretending to be something not.
Charles Dee Mitchell
A young man walks through the desert on a two lane road. There is a teddy bear strapped to his backpack.

Mawkish came to mind, but I have enjoyed Anders Nilsen in the past and I read through this slight graphic novel. One odd thing happens after another, and it is all vaguely depressing. Emphasis on the vague. But not the kind of vague that opens up into wider, wilder possibilities. A very downbeat and I still think rather mawkish way to spend an hour or so.
Dec 31, 2013 Mattkelly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: mental patients, geniuses
Surreal in the literal sense -- was it all a dream? Except it has dream sequences, so were they dreams within the dream? It kind of meanders a bit, and while it was easy to follow, the plot is circuitous to say the least. It exists in an unknown time or place, yet the fictional world seems somehow familiar.

I can't say I really understood much of what was going on or why, which sometimes really bothers me. But somehow the development of the character and bizarre scenes and interactions kept me en
It is hard to say that I read this book. There are not words on many of the pages. So I feel like I looked at the story rather than read it and while looking I may not have seen everything that I should have. Apparently I am not alone in my bewilderment. The Washington Post reviewer wrote (this book) "will leave you wondering if you've read a book or walked through a dream".

The tale lasts less than 100 pages with two main characters on a journey. I wanted to say that there wasn't much action, bu
un ragazzino con un orsacchiotto legato allo zaino cammina in un paesaggio deserto: prima è una strada, di quelle che nel nostro immaginario ormai sono le route americane che si avventurano nei paesi dell’interno; poi è una piana vuota di persone, popolata solo da cani randagi e all’improvviso tagliata da una lunga condotta; a tratti è il mare.
un lieve senso di angoscia e un lieve disegno perfetto, in questo fumetto che mi ha fatto conoscere Anders Nilsen dopo la favolosa mostra a Bologna.
A very minimalist dream within a dream (perhaps). Because the language/settings/action are all so sparse it's fun to get into the whys and potential takeaways from Nilsen's choices. All in all, though, this just didn't linger with me. I was much more into his other (slightly similar) book, Big Questions.
James Sie
There is something weird and enigmatic and ultimately very true about this slim volume. A man is traveling with a Teddy Bear on his back. He doesn't know where he's going. There are very few words. And it unspools from there. Get it!
Hannah  Messler
Another string of Anders Nilsen's bleak, plaintive little windsongs, barely troubling the surface of the long white page, curling around your heart and clenching it, cold and lonesome in the watery grey light.
anday androo
I'm not ready to review this yet, but here goes. I know nothing about symbolism. That's my review, okay?

Now that I think about it, the Teddy Bear could easily be a symbol of childhood. Something we let go as we become an adult, the illusion that we are anything but cavernously alone. The kid makes choices too. He has many opportunities to violence but saves it for mercy. Like a dream interpretation, which is all this can be, the reviewer is inevitably authoring their own story in their telling o
When I saw the cover of this book, I immediately thought of my husband, who loves dogs, hoodies, and AK-47s. (Teddy bears, not so much.) It struck me that if I could find him a pooch who fetches Kalashnikovs, his life just might be complete.

This was an unusual, dreamlike graphic novel. The protagonist is wandering aimlessly through an unidentified, war-torn region with only a teddy bear as company. We get the distinct sense he is losing his mind.

I really wish all of the illustrations were as cl
This graphic novel is definitely worth reading, but Nilsen only scratches at the surface of bigger and more complicated ideas. He does finer, more thorough, and subtler work in Big Questions.
Michael Zapata
Quite melancholy and beautiful and spare. I just wanted 100 or 150 more pages of this existential world.
Artnoose Noose
Nothing like reading an Anders Nilsen graphic novel to make a person think about how bad her life is not. Things might be sucky, but I'm not wandering alone through the desert or a snowstorm. I'm not alone in a dinghy having lost all my fuel, the motor, the oars. I don't have to choose between shooting the mortally injured pilot begging for death and the child holding the assault rifle. And I'm not being followed by a pack of dogs who while licking my hands affectionately are assuredly trailing ...more
Nilsen is one of the most hyped of the younger generation of comic guys, but there's simply no representative work yet that encapsulates why. Dogs and Water is certainly atmospheric and moody - the lone protagonist wanders a vaguely post-apocalyptic landscape with his stuffed bear companion, occasionally finding bodies, wreckage, and wild animals - but there's no story to speak of, only stark and minimal images. And like Lilli Carre's equally vibe-soaked but ultimately empty "The Lagoon," the wh ...more
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Anders Nilsen (born 1973) is a popular artist and graphic novelist who grew up in Minneapolis and lives in Chicago, IL.

He works on an ongoing comic series, Big Questions (Drawn and Quarterly), which has been nominated several times for the Ignatz Award. In addition, his comics have appeared in the anthologies Kramers Ergot[1] and Mome.[2] His graphic novel Dogs and Water won an Ignatz Award in 200
More about Anders Nilsen...
Big Questions Don't Go Where I Can't Follow Monologues for the Coming Plague The End Rage of Poseidon

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