While it’s common to see societies populated by intelligent animals in fiction, it’s quite rare to see societies populated by intelligent animals who still retain many of their behaviors from the wild.
The strip focuses on the Dewclaw family and their relatives. The Dewclaw family not only challenges the predator/prey relationship taboo, but is also unconventional by human standards, as both Kevin and Kell are on their second marriage and have children from their previous marriages. They not only have to deal with their families’ and society’s disapproval of their relationship, but must also make their new family work, and their efforts are portrayed compellingly enough to garner the reader's sympathy.
The cast of charactes is wide and generally well-developed. Even the secondary characters tend to have meaningful connections with multiple other characters, thereby averting the Satellite Character
trope and enabling the characters to be explored in more depth. Unfortunately, many of the interesting characters, like Bruno and Corrie, fade from the story over time.
The Kevin And Kell
world is an interesting place, as animals often apply their natural behavior to human society, resulting in a variety of humorous situations, such as with mayflies’ day-long lifespans. While making jokes about a society in which animals routinely eat other animals is quite dark humor, it’s pulled off well with reader/in-universe Values Dissonance
, occasional Asshole Victim
, and Rule Of Funny
. There are some cases of Fridge Logic
and Did Not Do The Research
, but the premise itself is interesting and well-applied.
Unfortunately there often are plot holes and Ret Cons
as earlier canon is forgotten or rewritten; Kevin’s parents once attend a virtual Thanksgiving at his house, but it’s later revealed to be a con by Kevin’s father. Situations often arise or are resolved by plot twists that are not foreshadowed, which can make it seem like Holbrook makes up the story as he goes and can be frustrating to those who like the parts of the story that get cast aside.
The strip is quite long, but is worth reading from the beginning. While the best parts come between 1999 and 2004, the strip as a whole is consistently worthwhile reading.