Patrick McDonnell’s Strip ‘Mutts’ Lovingly Imitates Art, Literature, Comic Books, Music & More

If you are a fan of comic strips such as they print in the newspapers, perhaps you have run across the work of Patrick McDonnell. For 20 years, he has regaled us with the tales/tails of Earl the dog and Mooch the cat and all of the humans and animals who share their neighborhood in his daily strip Mutts. McDonnell is also a powerful advocate for adopting animals from shelters, protecting the environment, and giving thanks and gratitude. McDonnell is the author of numerous books featuring his wonderful cast of characters.

Beyond the wonderful and touching and sometimes sad themes that McDonnell incorporates in his work, he is a true aficionado of art history and artists, children’s toys and products, comic books, literature, and music, among other topics. The cartoon above was the Saturday strip in a series of shelter animals hoping for adoption, all with musical references. The title panels from his Sunday strips often reflect the theme of that day’s comic. Here are examples of his nod to art — Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss — and literature — Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.

On Sunday, November 24, 2019, McDonnell again nailed it:

There are dozens of examples throughout the years of his homages to artists such as Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and The Beatles. Here are a few examples (I have a framed copy of Abbey Road):

And there are two more that really jumped out. The first honors the cover of Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin. This one I carefully clipped from the Sunday paper:

And, finally, there was a Sunday when I didn’t notice the title panel before reading the rest of the strip. I screamed, as any good Frank Zappa fan would, realizing he had recreated the inner fold of Chunga’s Revenge. Then I saw the title panel! This photo is from my framed copy of the strip:



Not familiar with McDonnell’s work? He has lots of books of his work, starting with The Comic Art of Patrick McDonnell. The several dozen other books include treasuries and lots of books suitable for all ages. Start by signing up for his daily strip in your email.



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