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Funny Books - Housebroken - Steve Watkins

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A Housebroken Collection
Steve Watkins
Andrews McMeel Publishing 2005
127 pages

Any daily comic strip that takes repeated jabs at Eddie Murphy for foisting so many turkeys upon a now very much suspecting public is aces in my book. Steve Watkins, author of Gangsta Yoga With DJ Dog, the second Housebroken collection, does that:  "The following motion picture is rated E-D 89. It contains the Eddie Murphy that has not been funny since 1989."  There is also another fun jab at Murphy on page 100 when he shows up to give a refund to DJ Dog and his sort of owner Malik Watson.

Housebroken is a very hip, hip hop, gangsta collection of comic strips. It is probably the sharpest of the new strips to have come around in the past few years and definitely has the writing, the characters, and the art to last a long time. Comparisons are always a bit unfair but this comic strip is sort of The Cosby Show after a month of intense listening to rap music and an overdose of reality. Steve Watkins takes no prisoners and spares no one in this strip yet manages to make Housebroken sound and look like just another fun daily newspaper comic.

Housebroken is the story of DJ Dog, a rap artist (white) pit bull who lives with the Watson family. The kids are Malik Watson, a fairly normal kid, and Mya Watson, the only Black female Republican after Condoleezza Rice.  The parents are fairly normal, as is the fact the Watsons live in suburbia. Of course, since DJ Dog is a canine, there are conflicts with the mailman and cats (although the strip does not have enough felines to satisfy cat lovers or cat haters), but most of the humor here comes from DJ's ability to rap about any subject and his constant efforts to keep it real. This second Housebroken collections has DJ attend elementary school (third grade because although he has the vocabulary of a college graduate he has no understanding of the words he uses -sort of like George Bush) but also features various members of the Watson family having various adventures and making very pointed societal observations.

Another favorite in Gangsta Yoga With DJ Dog is the running gag of lightning striking the dog each time he has impure thoughts about how sexy Rudy from the Cosby Show is now that she is all grown up. This is a strip that has the kind of bit to it I find entertaining and satisfying.  The jab at Beetle Bailey is definitely overdue too.



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