Comic Spotlight

Supporting Cast: The Animals of RHYMES WITH ORANGE

By Tea Fougner

Now that it’s finally getting cold, we here at DailyINK are all thinking about cuddling up with our dogs and cats.  But some of our favorite pets around here are the ones who show up in Hilary Price’s comic, RHYMES WITH ORANGE.

RHYMES WITH ORANGE doesn’t haveany recurring characters in the sense that we normally think of them (although Hilary points out that there is a woman with stringy red hair and floppy boobs who bears a more-than-passing resemblance to someone she sees in the mirror now and then), but pets tend to show up an awful lot.

Hilary identifies herself on Twitter as the “master of overly large dog, maid of hoodlum cat.”  She says, “My dog comes to work at my studio every day and makes sure the couch stays put.  My cat kills things outside and presents them to me in an artistic and sadistic way.”

Hilary’s relationship with animals goes back much further:

“When I was little, my parents had three dogs.  And I was the youngest of three kids.  It was hit or miss whether my mom called me Michael, Muffin, Eric, Smokey, Jessica, Whiskers or Hilary.  Pets are woven into the fabric of my family.

“Everyone in a family has their own agenda, and humor is watching these agendas compete with each other.  In the real world, the human’s agenda eventually prevails.  In the cartoon world, the animal’s agenda always prevails.

“What is both cool and frustrating about animals in the real world is that they don’t assign value to things in the same way we do.  Grandmother’s pearl necklace is just as much of a toy to a cat as the plastic thingie from a milk bottle cap.  In the cartoon world, we believe the cat knows exactly what it’s doing, yet feels no remorse.”

Sometimes the animals fill the places normally reserved for human beings—having household squabbles, lying on the psychiatrist’s couch.  Hilary finds that animals act as great stand-ins for humans when she’s writing relationship humor.

“It’s funny to see a dog and a squirrel on opposite ends of  a couples therapist’s couch talking about how things have petered out now that the thrill of the chase is over.   So you can reference serious issues in a not-serious way.  But there are two other reasons why I like having animals as stunt-doubles for humans in relationship strips.  The first is that the joke doesn’t have to be bound to gender — men being one way, women being another way, battle of the sexes yada yada.  The second is that it doesn’t have to be bound to opposite sex relationships.  As someone in a same-sex relationship, I want the humor to be as inclusive as possible, so I let two non-descript animals do the talking.”

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While Hilary’s favorite animals are frogs and toads, (“if I come across one when I am taking my dog out at the nature preserve near my house, I consider it a good omen for the day”), her favorite animals to draw are dogs:

“They come in so many shapes and sizes, you can’t screw up the proportions.  But I see drawing dogs as symbolic of drawing cartoons in general:  there isn’t one right way to draw a dog or a cartoon because there are millions of right ways to draw a dog or a cartoon.  That is what makes the art form of cartooning so fun.”

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