Bino is the official mascot of Housepets! Not Fido. Bino.
"Any problem can be solved with the correct application of pressure to a stupid person's face."
— Grape Jelly Sandwich, Housepets
We all love our pets, don't we? Now imagine this: your pets are sapient, anthropomorphised, and have the height of a small child. What would they be doing all day? Housepets portrays such a scenario. This comic by Rick Griffin portrays pets virtually as children who are almost human besides height and differences in clothing style. They still play pretend, no matter how weird they make it out to be.The story focuses around a cat and a dog living with the Sandwich family. The Dog is Peanut Butter or just Peanut and the Cat is Grape Jelly or just Grape. The classical setup, you think: stupid dog, smart cat, and crazy hijinks about how opposite they are ensue. But that's not what you get. Instead, you get two characters who are fairly similar in intellect with similar interests, whose subtle personality differences show off like a beacon. Peanut is the sensitive and slightly silly one. He's childlike and excitable and loves playing all kinds of games. Grape is the lazy and pragmatic one, though sometimes her logic is too logical for her own good.The Sandwich family lives in a neighborhood filled with pets and strays that have their own quirks and clubs to mingle in, ranging from a mild-mannered dog that works in the police force to a dog that Cosplays as a cat yet has a mouse for a girlfriend. Although there are humans around, the comic mainly focuses on the animals with their adventures, trips, and problems.Although Peanut and Grape are the main characters, it was inspired by childhood drawings made by Griffin of a dog named "Bino". Bino appears as a character in the comic, as the substitute leader of a neighborhood dog social club. He is the middle brother in another family caught between his popular older brother, police dog Officer Fido, and his quirky younger brother, Joey.Needs more characters and tropes on the Character Page.Check it out here.
The author decided to prematurely end a story arc which depicted catnip use as similar to smoking marijuana because it would break the self-imposed PG rating, although catnip itself is still available as seen in later strips.
Two other arcs were aborted by acts of god. "The Arc Specifically About Being Naked" was killed by a broken computer (see What Could Have Been), and "All Hallow's Ween" was ended by a medical emergency (see Author Existence Failure).
Not exactly, as the wolves moving into the neighborhood caused quite a stir, but if they're friendly enough they seem to be able to integrate without too much trouble, and they're all sentient, so it works.
There is also mention of a feral level of animals, most notably Joel's former pets.
Animal Jingoism: Not outright hatred, per se, but the Good Ol' Dogs Club only admits dogs, and then there's the interspecies romance taboo...
Animals Not to Scale: Almost all dogs, cats, rabbits, and raccoons are the same size (about waist height on a human) while mice are about real life size, and ferrets (plus King and Tarot) are on a scale somewhere in between those, the wolves are huge and musclepacked, apparently from living in the wild, while real wolves are smaller than some dog breeds.
Tarot: The truth shall be brought to light, and I fear that day, for all who do not hold love in their hearts shall perish, and their souls will be broken into shards as countless as all the sand on the face of the earth. Plus it's terrible for your complexion.
Author Existence Failure: Averted recently when Rick Griffin had to be hospitalized and undergo surgery due to complications of Crohn's Disease. Thankfully he came through the surgery alright and (as of early November 2012) is recovering well. This did cause a temporary delay in the comic, which was subsequently filled by guest comics.
Parodied out of Universe. At one point, Rick left a comment stating he would "e-strangle" the next person to mention how much more buff Fido looked after a minor style revision. A few comics later Rick then commented himself how buff Fido was looking, leading readers to wonder if Rick would now e-strangle himself.
In universe, don't tease Tiger about having the name of a big cat, wake Grape from a nap, or be a cat or cat-lover in the Good Ol' Dogs Club when Bino's around.
Big Bulky Bomb: Played with in this strip, in "The Great Water Balloon War" story arc, in the form of an absolutely huge water balloon requiring much of the contents of a pool to fill it.
Bigger on the Inside: In this strip, even Zach, who's been in the temple in the back yard of Mr. Milton before, is absolutely stunned by how huge the place looks like from the inside, far in excess of the external dimensions.
Usually played straight. It's accepted as a fact of life that predator species kill and eat prey animals for sustenance (something that gets pointed out more than once and even happens on-panel); however, it should be noted that like the predators, the prey species are also fully sentient, able to talk to and even hold lengthy conversations with the animals who want to eat them.
Except for some, like the cows, which seem to be either non-sapient, or just don't care.
Illustrated by the title and cover of the second book Housepets! Hope They Don't Get Eaten featuring a picture of the wolf cubs seasoning an understandably concerned looking Zach.
One of the Bigglesworths attempts to eat Squeak and Spo, only to be foiled (and disturbed) by Squeak's foot (macro?) fetish.
Chekhov's Gun: The last panel of this just seems to be a throwaway gag, involving the reactions of Peanut and Grape to seeing what Fido is up to with Sabrina. A year and a half later, it turns out it's not.
Completely Missing the Point: Peanut in particular happens to be prone to this, as shown in this strip where he asks about a trivial issue instead of about the fantastical world he and Sabrina are descending into.
And again in this strip, with Pete's curse interrupted by nearly getting a set of sharp teeth clamped onto his backside.
Cuteness Proximity: Let's be honest. King and Zachary in the same room could be used as a weapon. The ferrets have their moments too. In Itsuki's case however, it's just one more annoyance as his fellow students insist on hugging the fluffy tanuki.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: In this strip, Bino responds with indignation to Fox's allegations that he has a small... neck. Keep in mind that the neck is the only area the pets seem to have any modesty about...
Fox: *snrk* I was wondering, how does someone with such a big head get by with a neck so pencilly? Bino: It's comparable to the national average!
Don't Fear The Reaper: Cerberus assumes the mantle of the Grim Reaper for the sake of working with children, greeting a puppy who was thrown off a bridge by his owner and drowned with a giant cookie.
One of Miles' cubs dons one during the water balloon war when acting as the 'leader' of the dog soldiers. According to Rick this is somehow the same eyepatch worn by Delusional Steve, a one time character seen in a flashback to Grape and Peanut's first meeting. Unfortunately for Steve, any signs of Power seem to be averted in his case.
In this strip, it's King's foot that rises when going for the kiss with Bailey, instead of the usual gender roles for the trope.
In this strip, Sasha's foot rises as she kisses Fox's cheek, wishing him goodnight.
Formally Named Pet: at least ten cats called Mr Bigglesworth, due to their owner being a Crazy Cat Lady. They all look the same, though most are not related and some are female. They occasionally mess with other pets who don't know there's more than one.
Free Range Animals: The housepets are allowed to roam Babylon Gardens for the most part unattended. When they go somewhere such as the mall or the zoo they sometimes are required to wear leashes, however are allowed to wander about freely if they hold on to their own leash.
From Bad to Worse: King's choice of turning back into a human. At first if he turned back into a human he'd have to deal with being an escaped convict, but now if he turns back into a human he's more or less told that he is literally going to hell, and the only way he can have a pass is to stay a dog as they are judged less harshly by heaven than humans.
In this strip Fox asks his cousin Bailey about a hypothetical dog with a romance problem, but she in turn cuts straight to the chase and tells him to just go ahead and hook up with the object of his newly discovered affections.
Bailey seems to get a lot of this kind of thing. In this strip King attempted something similar, and Bailey was similarly direct in her response.
A sensitive issue; within the context of the comic, interspecies relationships are considered taboo. Fido and Sabrina (a dog and a cat, respectively) are romantically involved; Peanut thought his crush on Grape was a secret, but she knew it all along. Joey (a dog) is involved with Squeak (a mouse).
Peanut's character Spot dates a "dog"note possibly a disguised cat named Stripe. A possible early precursor can be found here.◊ Yes, that's why Bino gives Peanut trouble about being a cat-lover.
Apparently there's at least one coyote in the other Daryl's family tree.
Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: In the story arc "Show Business", King finds himself trapped in a tool shed when being chased by Duchess. This strip even mentions MacGyver by name. The ultimate solution to his dilemma is, however, somewhat more directly violent than most of MacGyver's solutions.
Loophole Abuse: Laws require that housepets be on a leash when out in public places, but it doesn't specify anything about who's holding the other end of the leash, which the pets exploit by going out holding their own leashes.
Naked People Are Funny: Oddly averted. While housepets are naked all the time, the fact is only occasionally pointed out, such as when Grape couldn't believe that Peanut didn't know she's a girl, or "The Arc Specifically About Being Naked" (aka losing one's collar).
Never Say "Die": Parodied here by the dog on Uncle Reuben's farm, using all sorts of euphemisms for dying in their literal, non-euphemism sense.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Grape fears she may have pulled this herself after accusing the "author" of the Pridelands series of exploiting the work of her cat (the actual author of the series).She didn't.
Fox: And I'm subconsciously projecting myself onto the lead of West Side Story for a reason, aren't I? Alt-text of that comic: Tony / I'll end up in a ditch just like Tony
Jata in this comic. Also something of a Brick Joke after Jata dismissively regarded Uncle Deadeye earlier.
Only Six Faces: This was particularly bad during the comic's first year, but has gotten better following the style revision. It's not perfect, though; apart from a color shift and some differences in clothing, Peanut is a dead ringer for Fido.
Quirky Town: Babylon Gardens is owned by ferrets (through a human estate trust), and has among other "oddball" characters two housepets who are servants of celestial beings playing a Universes and Unrealities with the subdivision.
Rail Roading: How Pete "convinces" Joel to be a part of the Game, making it sound as if there was no other option for Joel.
Ready for Lovemaking: When King went to his room after a dog pageant, Duchess appeared on his bed, laying in a suggestive pose with a whip and a set of pink cuffs, asking for King to snuggle with her.
Shared Family Quirks: Fido, is dating a cat named Sabrina. His youngest brother Joey is in a relationship with Squeak... the mouse. Associating with mice is another thing the Byrons seem to have in common. Fido has grown rather attached to Spo, a mouse he was volunteered to care after, by none other than Sabrina. And we've come full circle.
Take That: Any page that has Tiger or Marvin "Arbelt" is almost certainly a parody of Garfield.
The cast page for Tiger: I hate Thursdays. I like pizza. I hate cockroaches. I like my teddy bear Poom. That’s characterization, right?
Tarot Troubles: The common use of the Death card is lampshaded in this strip, then uses the trope straight with the next card being The Tower.
Tempting Fate: While looking out the window to his office, Keene claims in this strip that the water war he started couldn't be stopped with all the water in the neighborhood. The sky then opens up in a torrential downpour.
It wasn't until two months after the comic started that Peanut (and 96% of the audience) even realized Grape was a girl.
That Was Not A Dream: Standard celestial policy - after a mortal as a run-in with one of the Cosmic Nerds they are told to "wake up" and immediately do so in their bed. However an item is always left which tells the mortal it was not a dream.
Theme Naming: Earl Sandwich is clearly fond of this. It seems to be a common practice on his side of the family, but it's usually lost on his wife.
Thief Bag: The Milton Ferrets award the contest prize to Daisy in a traditional white sack with a dollar sign on it, which is lampshaded by Rick in the comic's title.
Valentine's Day Episode: Every Valentine's Day brings a set of four paper valentines featuring characters from the strip. They're mostly meant as jokes, but they're also provided in a large printable format so you can give them out.