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Dogs and Water

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  1,087 Ratings  ·  108 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
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394th out of 2,380 books — 5,353 voters
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56th out of 105 books — 10 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jan 24, 2008 Greg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
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.
Elizabeth A
Jul 10, 2016 Elizabeth A rated it liked it
Shelves: graphix, 2016
This graphic novel is all about the journey, so don't even think about getting to any particular destination. It's a quick, if rather surreal, bleak, and dreamlike read. There is is guy walking down a long road with a stuffed bear strapped to his back. It's not clear where he came from, and equally unclear where he's headed. What is fascinating about this book is that the author is able to convey such a variety of emotions within this stark and lonely landscape. The simple black and white art is ...more
Sep 20, 2011 Noah rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-reviewed
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
Renee Alberts
Nov 26, 2007 Renee Alberts rated it really liked it
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
Robert Beveridge
Mar 29, 2009 Robert Beveridge rated it really liked it
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
Jul 21, 2010 Philip rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
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
Oct 19, 2016 Kajwan rated it really liked it
Dogs and Water could be best described as a melancholic surreal piece of art with a tinge of Jasonian sense of timelessness and placelessness. As a matter of fact neither being English nor read left to right are not substantial to this art work. It could be read in any language and any form desirable because it speaks of something universally shared and that, I assume, is the question of identity and purpose.
As many other readers, who I was sure would find enjoying this, have mentioned previo
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 ...more
Nov 11, 2011 Jeff rated it liked it
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
Sep 09, 2007 nicole rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic_novel
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
Dec 07, 2009 Dan rated it it was ok
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...
Emilia P
Sep 27, 2010 Emilia P rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
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.
Feb 07, 2008 Katie rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
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.
Dec 29, 2008 Tyler rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
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.
Nov 02, 2010 Tripmastermonkey rated it it was ok
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
Hannah Messler
Mar 10, 2014 Hannah Messler rated it liked it
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.
Ben Brewski
Mar 22, 2016 Ben Brewski rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
Alright, one of those "makes-no-sense" books. A little too postmodern for my taste. Interesting read though, fun to try and make sense out of it.
Aug 27, 2016 Martyn rated it it was amazing
Tom Gaetjens
Oct 25, 2016 Tom Gaetjens rated it really liked it
Minimilist to the point that it seems that the book might be hiding parts of itself from the reader, though not in the sense that clues are hidden in the text. This is a mystery that is not intended to be solved, this is a story about internal struggles, and, perhaps, what it means to embrace humanity. That's how I take the story, though this is the sort of story that acts as more of a mirror of the reader than anything else. Excellent in its immateriality, harsh in its reality.
Nov 21, 2016 Ademption rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
2.5 rounded up.
Matt Mendoza
Jul 16, 2015 Matt Mendoza rated it it was amazing
I remember, years ago, stumbling across an excerpt of Anders Nilsen’s “Dogs & Water” in an edition of Best American Comics. If I remember correctly, the excerpt began with our protagonist cresting a huge pipe in the middle of a featureless tundra. In the next panel he discovers the wreckage of a helicopter crash with, as we soon find out, only one survivor. Of all the works in the collection, Nilsen’s was one that stuck out. His pages lacked borders, the white of the page becoming an ...more
Feb 21, 2008 Anders rated it really liked it
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
Apr 07, 2009 Chris rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Dec 31, 2013 Mattkelly rated it liked it
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
Feb 27, 2011 Clumsy rated it really liked it
Shelves: fumetti
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.
Dec 31, 2014 Katie rated it liked 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
anday androo
Jul 02, 2012 anday androo rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 30, 2010 Peacegal rated it liked it
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
Artnoose Noose
Nov 14, 2009 Artnoose Noose rated it really liked it
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
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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
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