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.The main characters are Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly, the beloved dog and cat of the Sandwich family. In a twist on the classic "smart cat, dumb dog" setup, Peanut and Grape are actually fairly similar in intellect with similar interests, and their subtle personality differences shine 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 she is too sensible for her own good.Initially, the story centered around the pets of Babylon Gardens and the wacky hijinks they found themselves in, but about a year into its run, Griffin started to include more mature themes. While never falling prey to Cerebus Syndrome, much of the comic has dealt with the implications of a world where animals and humans are similarly intelligent, including but not limited to: naming pets as heirs, wild animals deciding to live a civilized life, Interspecies Romance, an African micronation which humans never colonized and is run entirely by animals, and novels marketed towards animals and the associated subcultures that they give rise to.However, life in Babylon Gardens is not exactly normal, as several members of the cast have become embroiled a great supernatural game played by a set of three demigods, the Great Kitsune, the Astral Dragon, and Pete the Griffin. At the center of this story is King, a human turned into a dog to serve as Pete's avatar in the game. This side of the Housepets story will occasionally intersect with the pets' normal lives, and these days, it is often hard to tell which is the comic's central story.According to the author, the comic was initially inspired by childhood drawings made by Griffin of a dog named "Bino". Bino appears as a character in the comic, as the leader of Babylon Garden's "Good Ol' Dogs Club." Portrayed as an antagonist more often than not, he is the middle brother caught between his popular older brother, police dog Officer Fido, and his quirky younger brother, Joey.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, and "All Hallow's Ween" was ended by a medical emergency.
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.
Artifact Title: Rick seems to be introducing more and more characters (the Milton Ferrets, the Wolf Pack, Itsuki, the Galactic Nerds, the Forest creatures, the zoo creatures, Karishad) who wouldn't exactly be considered 'house pets'.
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.
For Fox, don't mention the name Joel, he's quick to get angry ever since he was kidnapped (or rather dognapped). Then there's Heaven's Not Enough...
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.
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!
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.
Rex mentions the "computer issues" that thwarted The Arc Specifically About Being Naked, which was supposed to be the first Bino-centered arc.
Peanut is literally leaning against the back wall as he talks about not seeing Cross Over character Ponbon again in this comic.
Peanut does so here regarding a common fan reaction to the type of plot that was being lead into.
Joey looks out at us as Peanut says he is glad there's no one out there watching the Ten Little Indians Imaginate.
Lets Just See What WOULD Have Happened: In this strip Great Kitsume may or may not have let the Earth explode ( restoring it afterward ) in order to show Dragon what would happen if she were to modify an infinite-range detection spell to cause damage.
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.
Noodle Incident: Mentioned by Peanut, about a previous, off-screen session using Tarot's psychic powers to make their imaginations tangible that resulted in an embarrassing moment for Grape.
Also, the birth of Miles and Lucretia's cubs, as mentioned by Jack and Elaine referring specifically to Lucretia's mother being the midwife.
"Four Finger Discount" Jack: Funny, you'd think the woman would get weaker in her old age. Elaine: At least that moss patch was fortuitous.
And then there's the bet between Joel/King's parents...
No OSHA Compliance: The way to Heaven is apparently a giant golden staircase without any railings. Luckily there's an equally giant three headed dog-god standing by to catch you in her paw if you trip and fall.
Not Blood Siblings: While Peanut and Grape treat each other as siblings, they aren't related; they're not even the same species.
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.
Ship Sinking: Anyone who was shipping Pete with Dragon will be distressed to learn they're brother and sister.
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.
Those Two Guys: Tiger and Marvin, who spend most of their time either in one-off hijink comics or as crowd extras. They're virtually always seen together, though. Tiger got his own arc in mid-2014 that at least gives him (and presumably Marvin by extension) a bit more character and roundness.
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.
Alt Text: Yes, it is literally a wall of text between panels 2 and 3. Get your tl;drs ready
Water Guns and Balloons: Housepets had an entire story arc based on a water balloon war, "The Great Water Balloon War", between the titular creatures that was used to parody military and wartime tropes, starting here.
Wham Episode: This series has several of them, each of them changing the comic forever, as more and more of the plot is revealed:
The first is very early, setting up the possibility for romance between Grape and Peanut, the two original protagonists of the comic. That entire arc sets up Peanut's "cat lover" status, as well as displaying the prejudices of the pet world.
The second is A Sinister Shadow, the first real darkness in the comic, where the status of pets as people is first seriously questioned, as well as showing the first human face in the form of Joel. While not obvious at the time, this arc kicked off the second major conflict of the comic, the status of pets in the human world.
The third became evident with this comic from Oops I Arced. A dream that had occurred earlier in the comic had Grape meeting a gryphon named Pete, and when she woke up, she had a gigantic feather from it despite it being (supposedly) a dream sequence. This was later followed up by the appearance of Tarot, who confirmed that magic existed in-universe, but the girl seemed a bit crazy. However, the existence of Pete was confirmed by the aforementioned comic from Oops I Arced, setting off another central conflict to the comic as Pete is unleashed, and then turns Joel (from the A Sinister Shadow arc) into a dog and gives him the name of King. Rather than being an odd one-off event, King becomes the third major protagonist of the comic, with many arcs following his struggle of fitting into the world of pets as an ex-human.
King's arc gained special significance a few arcs later, with dog days of summer revealing that Tarot is actually the avatar of a higher order being, a Dragon who is Pete's counterpart. She seems much more benevolent than Pete, but, along with the Great Kitsune, ultimately it is revealed that all three of the higher order beings - the gryphon, the dragon, and the kitsune - are ultimately playing games with the lives of mortals, and not only is King caught in the middle of it, but Tarot is shown to be not just a silly creature, but actually the avatar of a being of immense power. King rejects his role as a mere piece in a game run by bored demigods, and as such is set off on his own, stuck as a dog until the game is over, but given the promise of a reward at the end of the game, as all avatars receive. It is also implied that the dragon has an interest in Peanut beyond Tarot's interest, with the demigod herself wanting to be his girlfriend.
The next lies in Imaginate, Too!, when Grape reveals that she knew that Peanut had a crush on her all along, and the pair are forced to attempt to articulate what their relationship means to each of them. When Peanut eventually fesses up to the fact that he wants to be her boyfriend, Grape challenges him as to what more he could want - and declares that he is her best friend in the world, before kissing him. This adds a great deal of ambiguity to their relationship, as from there on the pair are seen snuggling periodically, calling into question both of their extant relationships as well as the exclusivity of it. While it is obvious that Grape and Peanut are taking their boyfriend and girlfriend considerably more casually than humans do, other relationships in the comic range from being of similar seriousness (Bino and Sasha) to being much more serious (Fido and Sabrina), and it is not really clear that Maxwell understands the depth of their relationship - though Tarot said from the very beginning that Grape could take him if she was willing to reject Maxwell, something she didn't want to do.
More than twenty arcs later, the Trial in Heaven reveals that not all is what it seems with the game of the gods. While Pete had been shown time and again to be a jerk, self-concerned, conceited, and ultimately appearing to care little for mortals, this is all turned on its ear as it is revealed that not only does Pete care, or at least has cared about mortals in the past, but it is revealed that the Dragon is not the kind-hearted creature that she seems - it is heavily implied that not only has she been meddling in the affairs of mortals, but in their love lives, with two of her followers dating two creatures that Pete was interested in, and the ex-boyfriend of one of said followers dating a third - all conveniently ruining Pete's own plans, but implying that all of their relationships may be, to some extent, a sham set up by the Dragon to prevent Pete from winning. Worse still, it is implied that the goal of the game that Pete and the Dragon had disagreed upon hinged upon the equivalence of humans and the other animals which inhabit the world - and Pete, not the Dragon, was on the side of the equivocation of human and animalkind, with the Dragon opposed to it. Thus, rather than the black and white conflict as it had appeared before, both sides were painted in gray - Pete is a jerk, but the comic is meant to lead the readers to sympathize with the pets, and King's arc in particular shows the difficulty of the transisition between human to animal - as well as the fundamental difference between the mindset of many animals and many humans, though the wolves had also worked to blur that line in the other direction by living as people, and far more responsible people than the ferrets, their benefactors, do. It also sets up for Pete having some sort of backup plan, but because of the Unspoken Plan Guarantee, we still don't know whether it has come to fruition.
Who can forget about Jungle Fever? This Arc focuses on Fido who finally confess his love of the cat name Sabrina in front of everyone in Babylon Gardens. Some are shocked while some already knew that.
And now, as of April 2014, Heaven's Not Enough, King has finally figured out that Pete still has an ace up his sleeve, which in a condensed form means that Pete is not forfeiting the cosmic game he's playing. Furthermore, he doesn't actually need him to fight as his avatar. However, it doesn't stop Pete from continuing on with his contract to King, just to torture him some more. Except, in a completely unexpected twist, Bailey takes the fall for King and signs Pete's contract, becoming his avatar. Now she has been whisked away to who-knows-where to duel against Spirit Dragon, where it is expected that she will be gone for a very long time from reality's point of view. Then Fox finds out who his best friend really is...