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Comic Strip / Buckles

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Buckles is a comic strip by David Gilbert that debuted in newspapers 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.


Buckles provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: Buckles himself. Paul as well.
  • Animals Fear Neutering: One storyline had Jill and Paul consider neutering Buckles. This terrified Buckles enough to send him running screaming through the house. Which made Jill and Paul think it was an even better idea, since clearly he was too tightly wound. They eventually decided not to, though, if only because Paul found the whole idea uncomfortable.
  • 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.
  • Author Avatar: According to David Gilbert, Buckles is a dog version of himself. In fact, he based the character's personality on his.
  • 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.
  • Big Eater: Buckles.
  • Big "NO!": In a March 2006 strip, Buckles has one when he discovers his dog bowl is empty.
  • Bland-Name Product: Some strips feature a fast-food restaurant called Burger Fry. Jill even keeps an iTab in later strips.
  • Bold Inflation
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Paul and Jill.
  • Burger Fool: Burger Fry, a fictional fast-food restaurant.
  • Butt-Monkey: Paul.
  • Camp Straight: Buckles frequently acts effeminate and high-strung, especially when people's affection for him is in doubt. However, he's only ever shown to be attracted to female dogs... well, those and inanimate objects that he perceives as female.
  • Catchphrase: "My sixth sense is buzzing!"
    • Paul's "You're a dog!"
  • Cats Are Mean: Some strips show a big bully cat who sometimes picks on Arden and even Buckles. An example is a February 2007 arc.
  • Cat Scare: In an early strip, Buckles walks up to a cat and barks at it, but suddenly, it jumps up screeching which scares him to death. Buckles then hides behind Paul saying "It exploded."
  • Character Title
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Buckles, as usual.
  • Companion Cube: "Irene", a fire hydrant which Buckles views as his girlfriend.
  • Completely Missing the Point: Buckles loves this trope.
  • The Conscience: Flea.
  • Crossover: A week of strips in August 2005 is about Blondie's 75th anniversary, so they involve Daisy talking to Buckles in barks, and later Blondie herself giving Paul an invitation to her birthday.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Buckles can be this at times.
    • Arden and Flea.
    • Then there's Jay, a bluebird and Arden's sidekick.
  • Dogs Are Dumb: Buckles always spanks Paul and Jill into submission. Irritatingly.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Buckles' friend at the dog park who feels he's more feline than canine.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: The strip had a habit of recycling most of its jokes, especially if readers think it's funny at first but soon grow out of it.
  • Expressive Ears: Buckles often has his ears go up whenever he's excited, happy or (sometimes) scared, or rather have them go down whenever he's quiet, sad or angry.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Buckles.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Scrappy, Charlie, and the bully cat.
  • First Name Ultimatum: "Buckles, you bad dog!"
  • Flying Brick: Captain Canine.
  • Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: Buckles walks on four legs often, but most of the time he just walks on two.
  • Furry Denial
  • Furry Reminder: Buckles and most of the other animals.
  • 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.
  • Hates Baths: Buckles.
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": Buckles' many alter egos, such as "The Carnivore", "Captain Canine", etc.
  • Humanlike Foot Anatomy
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Lester.
  • Interspecies Romance: A dog (Buckles) falls in love with a fire hydrant that doesn't move ("Irene").
  • Ironic Echo: Used a lot.
  • Jerkass: Scrappy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Paul can be this at times. Arden also counts.
  • Keet: Buckles himself.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Christina, Jill's five-year-old niece and Buckles' arch nemesis, who always ruins Buckles' life by giving him tea parties or silly games.
  • Large Ham: Everyone.
  • Like a Son to Me: Buckles' owners view him this way.
  • 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".
  • Medium Awareness: Arden did this once in a June 2007 Sunday strip, where he flies in and bumps into one of the comic strip panel's lines. Arden rubs his head lampshading it.
  • Mr. Imagination: Buckles, most of the time.
  • 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".
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Usually.
  • Opposites Attract: Sophie and Iris.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Buckles, you bad dog!" or "Bad dog!"
  • Polly Wants a Microphone: Arden and Jay. Not to mention Charlie the goose.
  • Precious Puppy: Of course.
  • Put on a Bus: Sophie and Iris. After a brief storyline in which Sophie persuaded the overprotective Iris to let her get to know Buckles as more than a friend, the pair disappeared without explanation. Buckles got back together with his "girlfriend" Irene the fire hydrant not long after.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Paul.
  • Running Gag:
    • Paul teaching Buckles dog tricks, which sometimes results in a failed catch.
    • Whenever Buckles wants to come with his owners (or one) if they leave the house, only to be declined.
    • Buckles eating trash, chewing his owners' valuable stuff, digging holes in the ground, or stealing Paul's food, followed by one of his owners either putting him in the garage or chaining him outside.
    • The "Dog Owners' Monthly" magazine, which Buckles thinks is an insult to dogs.
    • Buckles begging Paul for his food.
    • Every time Paul uses his lawn mower.
    • Buckles' fights with a vacuum cleaner, or as David Gilbert puts it, a "vacuum".
    • Buckles barking/howling in the backyard and various annoyed neighbors yelling at him to be quiet.
    • Buckles vs. the Paperboy.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Serious Business: Anything kept by Paul and Jill that has always been ruined by Buckles.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In a 2002 strip, Jill is seen playing Quake II on the computer (much to Paul's dismay, because it's a man's game).
    • In an October 2003 arc where Buckles stumbles upon a box containing a vacuum and touches it making it fall over, Flea tells him "this is like 2001: A Space Odyssey!"
    • In a November-December 2004 arc where Paul throws a stick to nowhere and Buckles tries to find it, Buckles is saying a lot of "goodbye" phrases at one point and "That's all, folks!" is the last of them.
    • In an August 31, 2008 strip where Paul is accusing Buckles of digging up the entire backyard, Buckles created a giant "painting" of Mona Lisa on the ground using a lot of Paul's stuff.
    • Also at the beginning of an April 2009 arc, Charlie the goose is staring at Buckles and Arden on top of the roof, laughing "Well, ain't that Mary Poppins!".
  • Shown Their Work: The comic depicted dog tactics the way they're done in real life. It also even portrayed pet ownership a little more realistically than Garfield and some other pet strips.
  • Skyward Scream: See Big "NO!".
  • Sleepwalking: Parodied by Buckles in a May 2008 arc, where he pretends to "sleepwalk", much to Paul's annoyance.
  • Sphere Eyes
  • Talking Animal: Buckles and other animal characters.
  • Third-Person Person: Most of Buckles' alter egos would narrate their own adventures in the third person.
  • Tsundere: Jill.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Paul and Jill, even though Paul isn't quite ugly to begin with.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Buckles and Arden are these at certain times. Type 2.
  • 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.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Buckles is afraid of cats (which he views as Cats Are Mean) and vacuum cleaners.
  • Widget Series
  • World of Ham: A bit.
  • You Have to Have Jews: A brief December 1996 strip about Hanukkah falsely called it "The Jewish Christmas", which has caused a controversy against David Gilbert and the syndicate.


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