Odin help me when I finally get to Twin Peaks and find myself doing this on an episode-by-episode basis, but my next subject in my delving into the complete works of David Lynch is something that was again an episodic work. Something as a matter of fact, episodic enough that I had to actively search to find all nine years worth of work on it and then spend my time reading them all, but I’m glad I got to it. Kind of.
You see, the thing about The Angriest Dog in the World is that I once again have to admit an intellectual stop to me that came about halfway through reading the comic strip (which premiered in LA Reader in 1983 and ran weekly there until it ended in 1992 – the year of my birth). I didn’t get it.
No, wait, I got it just fine. I just couldn’t connect with it. It was like the two latter parts of Lars von Trier’s Depression trilogy where we could easily read what was in the auteur’s head but that didn’t mean that a vast majority of us were actually going to respond to it.
Which is the unfortunate truth about The Angriest Dog in the World. Reading 9 years’ worth of comic strips that repeated themselves in four simple blocks didn’t make me emotionally or intellectually connect with Lynch’s expression of several facets of anger – the inconsequence of anger (for the entirety of the run, there is always a conversation happening without any regard to the dog outside), the disability of anger (the dog is practically put in a state of “rigor mortis” from his rage), the fading linger of anger (Lynch based the comic strip on a memory of his therapy session 10 years before publishing it because he happened to be in an inexplicable state of anger).
The strip itself is very sparse and minimalist – possibly because Lynch wouldn’t be much of a cartoonist, though I’m not sure how that hypothesis would hold up towards an art student like Lynch was – and that means that every single strip will have these themes pack and carry this portrayal of anger as concisely and direct as possible. Just four panels, three of them the exact same frame of a dog growling tethered to a tree and the fourth him at night. The variable is the dialogue coming from inside the house next to him while is often either an insanely existential thought or some short humor that keeps the strip just a little bit lively and me moving on to the next strip.
So even if I don’t have much to say (and I really don’t and given the hour it is as I type this, I think I’m needing to doze off soon), it is clear that this ritual was perhaps just as therapeutic to Lynch as his transcendental meditation (and I’d almost like to say some of the dialogue he chose for this family was informed by the meditation). He’d certainly need it after having dealt with Dune, but with the next picture, it seemed like his hands were to be less tied and his mind to be less tethered as this poor raging dog.