LGBTuesdays: Teen Dog

a strip from the Teen Dog comic

Two graphic novels in a row for LGBTuesdays? You better believe it. Teen Dog, a monthly comic by writer and artist Jake Lawrence, has the nostalgic feel of a Sunday newspaper comic strip with the relevance and depth of a modern graphic novel. The characters are adorable, relatable, and very lighthearted.

Queer Comics Databases describes Teen Dog as “Skateboards, football games, prom…your teenage years have got nothin’ on the raddest dude that’s ever graced a denim vest. Teen Dog is John Hughes movies meets ’90s Nickelodeon cartoons.”

The main character, Teen Dog, never has his sexuality explicitly mentioned or made a plot point, though it’s implied he is pansexual. He is simply Teen Dog, existing and being rad. There are a few moments throughout the story where mentions are made to other male characters being attractive or attracted to him, but it’s never a big deal. In an interview with Paste Magazine, editor Shannon Waters said, “Teen Dog is so genuine and kind and joyful, and the opposite of any sort of condescending, cynical book. It’s the most un-cynical comic I think I’ve ever read. I love Teen Dog as a character, too. I was Teen Dog for Halloween two years ago, when it was just a short comic. It is the most intensely kind and un-cynical book, and just so funny.”

Teen Dog encapsulates the ups and downs of high school, all while wearing a cool pair of sunglasses. It teaches kids that it’s totally rad to express your feelings, that guys and gals can be friends outside of a romantic context, and that crushing on the cutest guy in school is okay for everyone. Romance is only briefly touched on in the series and only one small on-the-cheek kiss is ever shown (pictured below). The series is about so much more than romance, it doesn’t feel like it’s skirting around the issue at all. This book is great for readers in middle school through adulthood and can be read right now through Hoopla with your AHPL card!

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