There has been a lot of press lately regarding celebrities and their animals, namely dogs. It is evident that we live in a country where people really love their dogs. They are synonymous with the phrase “man’s best friend” and increasing numbers of people are choosing a dog as a companion over an actual person.

There are, however, some canines that do not immediately fall under this blanket of public adoration. While there are certainly a number of breeds that quickly garner negative attention, none of them is as notorious as the pit bull.

And so, in lieu of the Michael Vick saga currently dominating headlines everywhere, I was quite eager to review “Demo-The Story of a Junkyard Dog.” The fifty-six page graphic novel, written by Jon Bozak and illustrated by Scott Bruns, uses the tale of Demo-a misunderstood pit bull, to try to shed some of the negative stereotypes haunting these animals.

As I started into the sort-of-kid’s-book-but-not-really, I realized that it was going to take me longer than I thought to finish the story. It’s not that the book is difficult to read. In fact, the story is a classic hero bit, written for all ages. The unlikely protagonist, Demo, is initially feared and shunned by society not because of his deeds, but because of his father’s. After his owner mistreats him in an attempt to turn him into a vicious monster he realizes that perhaps it is not in Demo’s nature to be that way. Ostracized by the town, Demo finds a friend in a young boy who does not judge him and he comes back to save the town from the misanthropic villain. As with all good stories of redemption, Demo triumphs in the end and gains everyone’s love. Nothing too out of the ordinary there.
What will really attract people to this book, however, is the illustration. I found myself staring at the pages long after I had read all of the words. Scott Bruns does a magnificent job of really bringing the words to life. His paintings convey to the reader a true sense of emotion while, at the same time, they depict characters that resurface in your thoughts well after you’ve put the book down. Bruns’ real talent lies in the eyes. Check out Demo’s watery peepers on page seventeen and you’ll swear you just saw a tear roll down the paper.

After reading this book for the second time, I realized why I felt curiously moved. It is easy to read something with a “message” to a young child and just go through the motions when we feel that the lesson is something rudimentary. With “Demo” though, the message is as important for adults as it is for children. Too often, we are quick to play the judge, jury and executioner. Between the story and drawings, the book succeeds in showing the reader the world is not a black and white place. Perhaps it is in our nature as humans to have some sort of prejudice, but if we stop and think about it for a minute…

The old adage, “you can’t judge a book by its cover” (although it’s not true for the work inside this book) is often spoken but not practiced. “Demo-The Story of a Junkyard Dog” just might change that for a few people.

This book is available from the author’s website: www.demo-dog.com

read a NY Post article about the book @

http://www.nypost.com/seven/07222007/entertainment/pits_are_legit_entertainment_julia_szabo.htm/

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