Buckles is a comic strip by David Gilbert that debuted in newspapers nationwide (yes, nationwide) in 1996. It follows the misadventures of a naive dog named Buckles, who lives with a pair of caring yet overprotective human owners (or, to a lesser extent, "parents") named Paul and Jill. Every single time, Buckles would have Paul teach him dog tricks, or would love to steal a valuable article of clothing and chew on it, which will always result in a punishment. When his owners aren't around, Buckles usually creates plans with an unseen flea that lives in his right ear, or talks to other animals outside, including a bird friend named Arden.While the comic isn't quite popular with readers, it has been praised by its syndicate, who said: "More of an only child with canine instincts than he is the family pet. Buckles can display all the charm...of a small child discovering how to find his way through life." You can do us a favor and read the comics here.
Art Evolution: In the strip's first couple of years, the art had a very lush and sleeker appearance with thicker lines and simpler character designs; but as years pass, it now has a very rough and crisp look, while still looking pretty fluid in appearance.
Bad Santa: Parodied; at the beginning of a December 2004 arc, Buckles frantically runs up to Paul telling him that Santa Claus is evil, but Paul tells him "For heaven's sake, Buckles! Santa is not evil! He's just a jolly old elf who delivers presents!".
Later in the same arc, Buckles has to wear an elf outfit so he can attack Santa at midnight, but "Santa" turns out to be Paul, who is accidentally attacked instead.
Berserk Button: It really irks Paul and Jill that Buckles ruins their stuff every time.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Occasionally in autumn 2008, David Gilbert drew various strips that contain sex or drug references, i.e. Buckles wearing a woman's bra (much to Jill's annoyance), and Scrappy sitting on a pile of nuts feeling drunk. How Gilbert's taking his comic seriously, you know.
Limited Wardrobe: Paul (almost) always wears a black shirt/sweater that has a big red stripe with black dots (sandwiched by thin static-colored stripes) running around it, as well as khaki (or sometimes blue) shorts/jeans.
Mad Scientist: Paul was portrayed as one in Buckles' "Captain Canine" fantasies, where he was named "Professor Paul".
Nasty Party: An October 2007 arc involves Charlie, a naughty goose, sneaking into Paul and Jill's house and throwing a "party" with his gang of geese by destroying the entire house. But then they fly away in frantic once Paul and Jill get home from work. Distraught by how the house has been destroyed, Paul and Jill get mad at Buckles and blame it on him.
The Nicknamer: Scrappy, who refers to Buckles as "Slobber Face" and Arden as "Beak Brain".
The Voice: Flea, a flea who can only be heard talking in Buckles' right ear.
Wham Episode: In an early story arc, Buckles gets hit by an incoming car when he runs away from Paul with his leash still connected while they were taking a walk. He's then needed for an immediate doctor's appointment and sent to the vet where it was revealed that his gums have been hurt from the accident.