Dog Man is a series of "Graphic Novellas" created by Dav Pilkey, creator of Captain Underpants (and in-universe, by George and Harold, who are now in sixth grade as of Fetch-22). The backstory goes like this: There are 2 cops. There is Officer Knight and Greg the Dog. However, one day, Petey the Cat plants a bomb, and the heroes have to defuse it. However, they cut the wrong wire and the bomb explodes. As Greg's body and Knight's head respectively are dying, doctors sew Greg's head onto Knight's body. And thus, a new crime-fighting hero is born!
The books to date are:
- Dog Man (2016)
- Dog Man Unleashed (2016)
- Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties (2017)
- Dog Man and Cat Kid (2017)
- Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas (2018)
- Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild (2018)
- Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls (2019)
- Dog Man: Fetch-22 (2019)
- Dog Man: Grime and Punishment (2020)
- Dog Man: Mothering Heights (2021)
The book series has been adapted into a musical in 2019 based on the first 3 Dog Man Books (mostly from A Tale of Two Kitties). Li'l Petey also gets his own spinoff book series, Cat Kid Comic Club, released in December 2020.
Tropes are go!note
- Abusive Parents: Petey's father, who left his son when he was a child, is a prime example. He's the perfect example of Cats Are Mean and becomes emotionally abusive towards Petey and his son. The end of For Whom the Balls Rolls makes sure he doesn't get off scot-free when he's arrested for trying to sell his son's possessions and again in Fetch-22 where he attempts to betray Li'l Petey and joins the Fair Fairy to Take Over the World and gets crushed by Commander Cupcake.
- An Aesop: In Book Em, Dog Man, the moral is that reading makes you smart.
- Animesque: The Dog Man books are definitely Anime-inspired, especially noticeable when Dog's face is seen in profile, sometimes his mouth isn't visible.
- Artistic Licence Biology: Downplayed. The creation of Dog Man ostensibly depends on the myth that dogs are colorblind. They're not, but it wouldn't have made a difference if this got acknowledged, as to a dog, anything not blue is greenish-yellow, and the wires are red and green.
- Art Evolution: An In-Universe example, no less. While George and Harold's spelling and artwork start about on par with what we've seen them do back in Captain Underpants, there's a slight bump in quality starting in A Tale of Two Kitties; George's handwriting has become a bit better and has fewer (if any) mistakes while Harold's artwork has begun to noticeably improve. By Dog Man and Cat Kid, their skills have taken a significant hike in quality, with cleaner lettering and artwork that's beginning to look on par with Pilkey's regular artwork.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Philly the Cheese Steak mascot, once he's brought to life with the Living Spray. His mechanical double in Dog Man and Cat Kid also counts.
- Back from the Dead: Early into A Tale of Two Kitties, Flippy, through a combination of being rebuilt with cybernetic enhancements and a good hose-down of Living Spray, is resurrected after previously freezing to death and failing to possess The Chief in Dog Man Unleashed.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The Mayor, as revealed in the second chapter of Dog Man.
- Brains and Brawn: Before they were combined to become Dog Man, Greg the dog was the Brains, and Officer Knight the Brawn.
- Buddy Cop Show: Probably one of the only instances where the buddy cops are combined into one cop.
- The Butler Did It: In Dog Man Unleashed, Flippy is revealed to be behind robbing a pet store of all its treasure chests.
- Call-Forward: In Dog Man and Cat Kid, Dog Man creates a superhero identity for himself called the Bark Knight. In Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-a-Lot, a future Dog Man comic that George and Harold read featured Dog Man as the Bark Knight.
- Canines Primary, Felines Secondary: Lil' Petey, a.k.a. Cat Kid becomes the sidekick to Dog Man.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Throughout Lord of the Fleas, Li'l Petey repeatedly tries to tell Knock Knock Jokes, but instead of setting up a pun, he just looks for something random and says it pooped on the reciprocator of the joke. In the book's epilogue, he writes a book called "Li'l Petey's 1000 Greatest Knock-Knock Jokes about Poop".
- Cardboard Prison:
- Petey constantly can get out of prison just as often as he gets into prison. This is even Lampshaded by the mayor concerning the incompetency of the police by bringing up an article stating Petey has actually gotten out of cat prison eight times.
- In Lord of the Fleas, Dr. Katz (actually Piggy in disguise) notes that Petey has been locked up seven times and escaped six times. Petey responds, "Yeah, well--- it's been a busy week!"
- Cats Are Mean: Petey. Lil' Petey is a complete aversion, as his kindness usually ends up saving the day.
- Petey later averts this as of Lord of the Fleas.
- Cessation of Existence: Flippy gets hit with this after Dog Man (unintentionally) prevents him from possessing anybody before his soul's time is up. He gets better.
- Child Prodigy: As a clone of Petey, Lil' Petey shares his massive intellect, capable of putting 80-HD back together and installing different parts in him without altering his core functions, among other feats.
- Clones Are People, Too: Petey eventually decides this by letting Lil' Petey stay with Dog Man so he can live his own life at the end of A Tale of Two Kitties. Not that this stops him from trying to sway him back to his side in the next book...
- Continuity Nod / Mythology Gag: In a flashback in Mothering Heights, we see Petey leaving the evil lair, in the cat mech from Super Diaper Baby 2.
- Corrupt Bureaucrat: The mayor, who planned on taking over the city with a robotic police chief.
- Create Your Own Hero: Petey was directly responsible for Dog Man's creation, on account of the fact that a bomb he set blew up and grievously injured Officer Knight and Greg, forcing their combination into Dog Man, who possesses the best traits of both.
- Demonic Possession: Flippy attempts this with The Chief when faced with certain death atop a snow-covered mountain. Unfortunately for him, he suffers a Cessation of Existence thanks to Dog Man confusing his soul for a ball.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- The first book in the series boasts only four chapters, compared to triple that number in later installments. It's also the only book in the series to tell stories in an anthology; later books would tell one long continuous story. The first two books also featured earlier issues of Dog Man that George and Harold created; Book 'Em, Dog Man is featured as its own self-contained chapter in Dog Man while the other, Dog Man and the Wrath of Petey are featured as a bonus chapter in Dog Man Unleashed; this appears to have been abandoned from A Tale of Two Kitties onward.
- The first two books are the only books without George and Harold talking about being in the fifth grade and boasting about their (non-existent) maturity.
- Emergency Transformation: Dog Man was created when a police dog named Greg and a policeman named Officer Knight got into an accident that left Greg's body dying and Knight's head dying, leading to the dog's head is attached to the man's body.
- Exact Words: When Sarah the reporter comes by to adopt Zuzu, the pet store employee states the cost to take her is one hundred dollars, plus tacks. Sarah then proceeds to pay in both one hundred dollars...and literal thumb tacks.
- Fun with Acronyms: Bub, Crunky, and Piggy form the Fuzzy Little Evil Animal Squad, or FLEAS.
- Furry Reminder: Even though he has a human's body, Dog Man despite being more intelligent than a normal dog, is still, well, a dog. So he acts exactly like a dog.
- HeelFace Turn: Lord of the Fleas kicks off Petey's attempts at redemption and leaving his life of villainy behind.
- Heroic Canines, Villainous Felines: Dog Man is the main hero and Petey is the mean cat. Averted with Lil' Petey/Cat Kid (see in Cats Are Mean above).
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: The living weenies in Dog Man and Mecha-Weenies in Dog Man and Cat Kid are...not very effective at causing chaos, but they sure act like they are.
- Informed Species: The Philly cheesesteak resembled a taco.
- Intellectual Animal: Petey is a straight example. Greg the dog, before he became half of Dog Man, was also this, despite not being able to talk. Flippy also becomes one thanks to the Supa Brain Dots Chief gets for his birthday, and Lil' Petey, being a clone of Petey, is yet another example of this. The latest ones as of Lord of the Fleas are Piggy the pig, Bub the crocodile, and Crunky the ape.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chief. Despite being very short-tempered and easily annoyed by Dog Man's antics, he still clearly loves him.
- Petey started to show shades of this in A Tale of Two Kitties after Lil Petey came along. Much like Chief with Dog Man, Petey was initially annoyed by his little clone, but soon grew to care about him in the following books, cultivating in him becoming a full-fledged Papa Wolf in Lord of the Fleas.
- Later Installment Weirdness: Unlike earlier books, which tend to end with George and Harold announcing their next book and characters questioning the phrase "Dog Man is go!", Brawl of the Wild ending with a two-page post-script tying up loose ends, presented as a news article on a tablet. There is an announcement for the next book, For Whom the Ball Rolls but the actual title is blocked by the tablet users hands.
- Long List: In Dog Man and Cat Kid, Petey describes himself as "a filthy, rotten, low-down, good-for-nothin', deplorable, contemptible, despicable, loathsome, detestable..." One Beat Panel later, he runs off, looks up a thesaurus, and resumes, "...ignominious SUPERVILLAIN".
- Mix-and-Match Critter: Dog Man, who has a dog's head and a human's body. According to his origin story, he was created when a policeman and his dog got in an accident that left the policeman's head and dog's body dying, resulting in the doctors getting the idea to sew the dog's head onto the policeman's body.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Petey says this (minus the "my god" part) after his initial abandonment of Lil' Petey.
- Non-Indicative Name:
- A Tale of Two Kitties. Only one of the characters this refers to is a kitten; Petey is a full-grown cat.
- Likewise, the Fuzzy Little Evil Animal Squad from Lord of the Fleas, who are not all fuzzy and/or little.Bub: We should come up with a better name!
Piggy: IT'S TOO LATE! I ALREADY ORDERED COFFEE MUGS AND MOUSE PADS!!!
- Non-Standard Character Design: Claymation Philly from Brawl of the Wild is a version of Philly the Cheese Steak depicted as a photographed clay model.
- Not His Sled: The first book's first chapter, "A Hero Is Unleashed", is a remake of The Adventures of Dog Man, the original Dog Man story from Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers. In the original story, Petey's vacuum robot is defeated by its power cord reaching its limit and getting unplugged. In the remade story, the vacuum now runs on an endless power supply, and it's only defeated when Dog Man tricks it into sucking up the ocean, filling up its expansive bag until Petey accidentally bursts it with his claws.
- Painting the Medium: There are fake teachers' notes included in the first book, including the teacher stating that Harold needs therapy for being creative.
- Papa Wolf: Dog Man when it comes to Lil Petey. Petey also becomes this in Lord of the Fleas.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Petey's initial disguise in Dog Man and Cat Kid is actually an aversion. For what it's worth, Petey's old lady disguise is actually pretty top-notch, to the point that you'd almost never notice it was actually him. The only people who seem to catch on are Lil' Petey (who almost immediately recognizes him just from a glance), Zuzu (by way of taking one sniff of Petey and knowing something's off), and 80-HD (who helpfully alerts Dog Man to his presence once Lil' Petey repairs him). The only hint the reader gets that something's off with Lil' Petey's babysitter is the name Petey gives this persona: "Ms. Suspicionflame".
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: The first book, originally called The Adventures Of Dog Man was intended to be the fourth in the "Graphic Novels by George and Harold" series (which had previously contained two Super Diaper Baby graphic novels and one Ook and Gulk graphic novel), which Dav wanted to be the first thing to come out after the final Captain Underpants book got released (it even ended with a Sequel Hook for it). However, as time went by Dav intended it to be the first book in a new series rather than a self-contained book with a few comics in it, but however it was obviously still the same book.
- Robot Buddy: 80-HD, a robot created by Petey in A Tale of Two Kitties, serves as one of these to Lil' Petey.
- Scary Stitches: Dog Man has obvious stitches connecting his head to his body. However, no one ever calls attention to it.
- Show Within a Show: It's a series created by George and Harold. Interestingly, the cover (pictured above) credits Dav Pilkey as the writer instead of George and Harold like Diaper Baby or Ook and Gluk.
- Shout-Out: As George and Harold read classic literature, they incorporate more shout-outs in their work.
- A Tale of Two Kitties.
- The Bark Knight.
- In Dog Man and Cat Kid, Petey posses as a British nanny with the name "Suspiciousflame." and sings a song that includes the lyric: ♪ "a spoonful of concentrated high fructose corn syrup." ♪
- Every book from Lord of the Fleas onward references a classic book.
- Signs of Disrepair: In Dog Man and Cat Kid, Petey walks up to a "Samuel Hamilton's Gassy Behemoth Studios" sign and rearranges the letters to show his motto to Lil' Petey: "Thoughtless mayhem is best." Afterward, Lil' Petey refuses to drop YoLay Caprese down from a tall height, leading Petey to repeatedly scream at him, "THOU SHALT!" Then Dog Man (who is having trouble driving the Dog Mobile) crashes through the sign, and what's left forms what becomes Lil' Petey's own personal motto: "Thou mayest."
- Stylistic Suck: This is George and Harold we're talking about here; they practically run on it. That being said, the series gradually begins to lose this as it goes on. See Art Evolution.
- Technology Marches On: In-Universe example: When Flippy is fighting Flat Petey, he throws obsolete goods, including a fax machine, a phone booth, a VCR, and an Apple Watch.
- Tempting Fate: Twice in Fetch-22, with chapter names:
- In chapter 3:Petey (to Li'l Petey): WE ARE NOT GOING TO VISIT [my dad] AND THATS FINAL! (Chapter 4 is called Visiting Grampa)
- In chapter 5:Fair Fairy (to the 22 tadpoles): Now all we need is a name for this tree monster! We must find a name that suggest unlimited power, unstoppable evil, and ultimate destruction. A name that will strike terror into the hearts of all!Downward Dog: I got it! (Chapter 6 is called Barky McTreeface)
- In chapter 3:
- Toilet-Drinking Dog Gag: In the story "Tongue of Justice", Petey had brainwashed the police force with tampered air fresheners, and Dog Man was chasing him in his secret lab when he couldn't resist the urge to drink out of a nearby toilet. Petey then gloats that he hid the antidote to the brainwashing in the toilet, so Dog Man vomits up the toilet water, licks it up, and slobbers the brainwashed policemen with it.
- Dog Man does this again in Mothering Heights, and the toilet lid falls down on his fingers, causing him to get injured.
- Toilet Humor: It wouldn't be a Dav Pilkey work without it.
- Too Dumb to Live: Everyone becomes this in Book Em', Dog Man after Petey removes all of the words in every book in the world, save for the books that Petey kept to himself.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Bones for Dog Man.
- We Can Rebuild Him: How Dog Man was created. Flippy too, as a cyborg.
- We Can Rule Together: In Lord of the Fleas, Piggy attempts this with Petey, and Petey actually considers it... that is, until Piggy insults Lil Petey, leading to the below mentioned Wham Line.
- Wham Line:
- After quite a few books of Petey repeatedly denying that his clone is his son, Lord of the Fleas gives us this;
- Grime and Punishment drops a huge bombshell about Peteys past, mainly what happened to his mother.Petey: Look your Grampa... He ABANDONED me and my mom! He left when I was just a kitten! He left when He left when my mom was sick.
Lil Petey: Your mommy was sick?
Lil Petey: She got better though, right? (Petey doesnt respond) Right, Papa?
- Wire Dilemma: Dog Man's origin story contains one of these, as Officer Knight and Greg have to disarm a bomb set by Petey. Knight asks for input from Greg and interprets Greg's growling as instructions to cut the green wire. Unfortunately, as dogs are colorblind, Greg cannot tell the wires apart, and cutting the green wire detonates the bomb, leading directly to Dog Man being created.
"Hooray for Dog Man!"