Alveridgea and the Legend of Lonely Dog, by Ivan Clarke and Stu Duval (Atlantic Books, RRP $40):
Queenstown-based artist Ivan Clarke has produced something special in this hard-cover tribute to Lonely Dog, an orphan hound growing up in Alveridgea, a land where cats and dogs live together but apart.
The title character was inspired by Clarke’s family pet, Arthur Snout the dachshund. Legend has it, Clarke did a painting several years ago of Arthur looking sad as the family drove off for a holiday without him.
That painting, titled Bon Voyage and showing Arthur in a suit, standing on a wharf as he waves at a ship steaming away, paved the way for the story of an orphan hound growing up in the segregated society of Alveridgea, where aristocratic cats lord it over the downtrodden dogs.
He was tucked inside an old boot and left on the steps of the Houndside orphanage.
Arthur, aka Lonely Dog, was small, not very hound-like and constantly teased by the other hounds for being almost cat-like in his quest to be clean.
However, like most rock n roll legends, “Lonely” makes sense of his life when he first hears the blues that makes his soul sing, his lifeline and his destiny: houndskiffle.
Of course, things don’t run smoothly and despite finally finding himself some soul mates, “Lonely” ends up being shunted out of the orphanage and abandoned in Catside, the enemy territory.
Now a refugee with a price on his head, he cared only about “the guitar on his back and his one true love”.
Clarke and co-author Stu Duval have done a magnificent job of creating the world of Alveridgea, and all the characters who live there.
Beautifully illustrated and also beautifully written, this is a detailed saga that will suck you in and make you care about the little houndling, our four-legged troubadour.