Mann’s Best Friend

What do you do if your flat is too small and your dog is too big? Find out in Scarlett and Sophie Rickard’s canine-friendly graphic novel

Terry at work in Mann's Best Friend by Scarlett & Sophie RickardThis charming book is about lots of things, but at its heart is a relationship between a man and his dog. Terry, the man, rents a flat that’s too big and beyond his means, because his dog, Eric, is an enormous Irish Wolfhound that would fill even the largest of homes. Terry, who works as a software engineer for a bank, is in a cycle of despair having lost his girlfriend (who left just after he bought her the gigantic dog) and his lodger (who was a colleague that became his boss and has recently become engaged to his sister). He’s in a downward spiral of debt and, just when you think he can’t get any lower, the trouble is cranked up another notch and Terry decides that the dog has to go.

What ensues is a bittersweet drama of ordinary lives, which I won’t go deeper into for fear of spoiling the gentle roll of the plot. It’s compassionate and compelling, grounded in the hilly northern English countryside where the book is set, and brimming with character.

Eric eat's from the bin in Mann's Best Friend by Scarlett & Sophie RickardThe art is relatively simple but also brimming with charm and wit. Scarlett Rickard uses simple lines to add emotion to her characters’ faces, with even main character Terry hiding behind his spectacles for most of the book, but it’s a well-balanced act between simplicity and emotional range. The other star of the art is the backdrop, which is subtly detailed, particularly when Terry is travelling up the high street and all the shops in the background have been named and windows-dressed.

There’s more to this book than Terry and his hound, and it’s a wonderful journey – recommended for those who like their comics to have a finely-tuned blend of uplifting grittiness.

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