is a satirical
, furry webcomic
drawn and written by Thomas K. Dye
. The strip is in two parts. The first version, sometimes called Newshounds I
, ran between November 1, 1997 to December 8, 2006. A sequel
, Newshounds II
, started on July 2, 2007.
Newshounds I is set in a fictional news broadcasting company in America called KPET, staffed by one human and seven anthropomorphic animals (five dogs, a cat and a rat). The strip satirizes many aspects of news companies and news stories of the day. Although sometimes strips are separate, most of the stories span several weeks, sometimes months.
As well as news gathering, Newshounds satirizes politics, sport and pop culture, with many of the characters satirizing one particular area. Newshounds covers controversial topics such as the war on terror, gay rights, and there are future plans to make a series of storylines about abortion.
Newshounds is one of the longest running furry webcomics (longer running examples include Kevin and Kell (1995) and Sabrina Online (1996)). It is hosted on the Internet by the online comics syndicate Keenspot. According to The Webcomic List, it is listed in the top 1,000 webcomics on the internet. A collection of strips entitled All the Newshounds Fit to Print won the Ursa Major Award for "Best Anthropomorphic Literary Work", and it is currently on the Ursa Major Awards, "Recommended Anthropomorphics List".
The comic follows a group of anthropomorphic
pet animals and their human owner, living in an unnamed American city and together operating a small news station
. The world it is set in the same as the real world, except animals are intelligent. The staff of KPET
(except the owner) are animals (five dogs, one cat and one rat). The animals in the Newshounds
universe are subject to the same laws as animals in the real world, such as dog licenses, having owners, and not being able to vote. However, the animals of the Newshounds
universe are aware of this, thus meaning that although they have their own political views and arguments, there is very little they can do themselves apart from express a view.
The owner, Lorna Dilbrook, originally worked for an animal shelter. When her late great-aunt Agnes died and left her $400,000, she started the station using animals from the shelter. Her staff includes two anchordogs, the vain Wolfram Blitzen and over-ambitious Renata Fayre. There is also cameradog, Kevin J. Dog who cannot keep a relationship down, right wing sports reporter Sam Shepherd and left wing and feline weather forecaster Alistair Katt. Ferris, a rat who was squatting in the house, was hired as a janitor. The final member of the team, danger-addicted Rochelle O'Shea, first joined the company as a temp, but later became a field reporter in 2001.
There are some minor characters that have returning roles. They include Lorna's parents, Ernest and Julia Dilbrook, who often visit with a hidden motive (for example, Ernest was once on the run from the mob for not paying back a $2 million loan), Hal O'Peridol, the CEO of Sunflower Chemicals, wants to marry Renata, but she cannot stand the sight of him and Kevin's on/off girlfriend Stormy Knight. There is also a local rival news company KRVL who try to stop KPET from getting all the best stories and soldier-turned-businessman General Swallowemup, who plots to buy every business in the world.
The Newshounds website has a section of comics set in the past, about how Lorna came to found KPET.
- Kevin J. Dog - Male golden retriever, KPET's camera operator and technical person. A fairly gentle and sensitive character, often playing straight man to the other characters' follies. He has a sister, Raine, and has had two failed relationships: one with Stormy Knight, who he first fell in love with due to their love of Blackadder, but she got married to her boyfriend Connor O'Connor. The other was with Della, a technophile and Kevin's technical assistant, who went missing during a holiday with her owners. His brooding over Stormy made him gain weight in early 2003. He is partly based on Thomas K. Dye.
- Renata Fayre - A female cocker spaniel and one of the two news anchors. She is strong-willed, good at finding facts, and generally clear-headed when not in the grip of journalistic ambition, or when her vicious jealousy towards Rochelle takes over. She often spars with KRVL head anchor Dirk Snoogems. Hal O'Peridol of Sunflower Chemicals often tries to marry her. They have done so twice, but both ended very quickly. She had her muzzle reduced in size in 2000, but few people noticed any difference in the "nasal twang" Hal O'Peridol first noted less than a year before , thus ruining her hopes of getting better jobs.
- Wolfram Blitzen - A male Norwegian Elkhound, Rochelle's husband and KPET's other news anchor. He is very fond of his looks and wardrobe; vain nearly to a degree of obsession, though the trait was largely quelled due to an incident when he became addicted to a banned fur conditioning drug in 2005. Whilst celebrating with Rochelle about getting over his addiction, he proposed marriage, to which Rochelle accepted. In August 2006, he told Rochelle that she was pregnant, and their children where recently born, named Malcolm and Emma. Other characters regard him as mundane and boring. Named after the American journalist Wolf Blitzer.
- Rochelle O'Shea - A female collie and Wolfram's wife. As a Field reporter, she is suave and calm but troubled by a secret addiction to danger. She first came into contact with KPET as a temp in summer 2000, although she was acting as a spy for General Swallowemup. She then went into the army, where she met Wolfram and Sam. They then returned to KPET permanently in the autumn of 2001. In August 2006, after surviving a helicopter crash, Wolfram told her she was pregnant. Rochelle is the only central character introduced since the beginning of the strip.
- Alistair Katt - Alistair is a male domestic shorthaired cat. He is supposed to be a weather forecaster, but because he was only placed in this position because Lorna heard him mention one high pressure system, he more often acts as outspoken liberal commentator. He also serves as KPET's lawyer, to his disgust. In December 2003, he came out of the closet. He is very fond of catnip, but he temporarily loses his sanity when he mixes it with alcohol. Storylines around New Year usually focus on him: since 1999 he has spent New Year's Eve alone on the beach almost every year. Although Alistair long claimed to be little interested in any romantic matter, he occasionally goes on dates with his friend Nigel. Nigel is somewhat obsessed with Alistair and, in his own words, "crazy-mad in love", but Alistair preferred to remain friends until recently. In a recent strip, to his great shock, Alistair came to the realization he loved Nigel too, even kissing him.
- Sam Shepherd - Sam is a male black labrador and KPET's sports reporter. He is macho and decidedly right wing. He disagrees loudly with Alistair over politics, but the pair gained mutual respect as they have both rescued each other for difficult situations. Sam had been in a dysfunctional relationship with Randy, Della's cousin, but they split up when he discovered she was cheating on him with her former boyfriend Vladimir. Despite Sam's politics, he eventually accepts Alistair's homosexuality and in April 2006 he told Alistair that George W. Bush is an "insane maniac", almost giving Alistair a heart attack.
- Ferris the Rat - Formally a squatter in KPET's first studio, Ferris is KPET's janitor, though he is next to useless at his job. He is irrepressible, obsessed with pop-culture, infatuated with Tori Spelling, and often launches into business plans which last just long enough to cause chaos. In October 2004, Ferris got rid of his last piece of Tori Spelling memorabilia, but he still has feelings for her, particularly after her father, Aaron Spelling died in June 2006. His name probably comes from the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
- Lorna Ernestine Dilbrook - The owner of KPET, its animal staff and the only human in the company. According to the comic's back-story webpages she started the station to follow her passion for news, finding its staff in the animal shelter she had worked at previously. She has kept KPET going ever since, gritting her teeth through its endless crises. She always tries to be as moral as possible, which may explain KPET's lack of success. She once went crazy after having her tooth removed; getting delusions that she was a dog and everyone else in KPET was human.
The comic is humorous, combining social and political satire
with character-based comedy
. The comic forays into sports and current events. Storylines range in length from a few days to several months and have covered, fractured love affairs, mysteries and conspiracies
, the legally-enforced brainwashing
of the city's animals into cheerful hygienic zombies
, a paramilitary
invasion of Starbucks
by the armed forces of AOL Time Warner
and mountain men using dogs to build a bomb. Some stories involve all the major characters, but often they focus on a few of them. No major character is more central than any other, each getting their turn in the spotlight.
There are some recurring themes that occur in Newshounds storylines, such as Hal's many attempts to marry Renata, General Swallowemup's plot to buy every company in the world, Kevin's failed relationships with Stormy and Della, Ferris's adoration of Tori Spelling and Sam and Alistair's political differences. The major storylines can each be found and described in each of the seven Newshounds books. (See below) and in the archives on the Newshounds website.
History of the comic
Thomas K. Dye's first precursor to Newshounds was Pet Sounds, a strip featuring Kevin and Alistair, which he drew in 1991 and 1992 and ran in the Montclarion newspaper. He then drew three episodes of a comic book, The Boy Shop Pets. It was written between November 1991 and January 1992. The book invented some of his Newshounds characters, including Kevin J. Dog, Alistair Katt, Renata Fayre and Ferris the Rat.
He began working on the first version of Newshounds in 1992 while living in Las Vegas. The pre-Newshounds designs of Kevin and Alistair are termed "Mark I." The original pilots of Newshounds are termed "Mark II".
The comic began running regularly on the Internet on November 1, 1997, and its character designs are termed "Mark III." The most recent major change to Newshounds was on March 3, 2003 when Dye launched the present "Mark IV" version of the strip. The art style and character designs were changed from the previous version, though their personalities were not changed, and Rochelle first became officially a major character.
Dye has created two other current features. Manifestations, started on February 28, 2003. This was an online graphic novel, with a new page every Saturday, and it ended in late 2005. It continued and developed a Newshounds story from spring 2001, but was otherwise disconnected from the present and future stories of Newshounds. It was much darker in tone than Newshounds, and less overtly humorous.
The other feature is Something Happens, a satirical series of unrelated episodes that started on April 18, 2006.
Currently, Dye is writing strip featuring Malcolm and Emma, Wolfram and Rochelle's puppies, and is considering turning it his next major project. The strip is currently entitled Kid Gloves.
The Newshounds characters have also appeared in other comics. One strip featured characters from ten other comics. The most notable crossover was a series of storylines between August 13-20 1999 which featured characters from another furry webcomic, Funny Farm.
Humans based on Renata, Kevin and Ferris appeared in the General Protection Fault storyline Surreptitious Machinations, but as part of the news team for fictional channel "WPET".
Material from Newshounds was included in Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists.
On 2 July, 2007, Dye started "Newshounds II", a sequel strip centering on the same characters in their new jobs at Meganewswest, the company Lorna sold KPET to on the grounds that her entire staff was allowed a position of some kind.
Being a satirical webcomic, Newshounds comics often have controversial subjects. There have been stories about:
Dye has also said in an interview that he plans to make a story about abortion, one of the most controversial subjects in America Dye has claimed that he has receives little in the way of hate mail from his comic.
He did once some attract anger in October 2002, building up to the war in Iraq, with a series of strips about two boys demanding an attack on the North Pole, "because he wouldn't deliver presents to supposedly "bad" kids, and therefore must be a terrorist. Dye said in an interview that, "Their underlying motive (voiced by Renata, of course) was to actually run in and get all the presents themselves. The boys dismissed Renata's complaints that there actually IS no Santa Claus by saying that she must have a terroristic agenda of her own and as a result, wasn't credible." The person complaining had misunderstood the meaning of the strip, and complained to Dye, however the argument was settled.
Another strip from September 8, 2006 caused anger, when Alistair said that, "The local Cub Scouts double as a gay lynch mob. Some people where angered as this was seen as an attack on the Boy Scouts. Dye said the joke was based on the neighborhood the characters were in, and that as a former Cub Scout himself, he never intended to make an attack.
There are seven Newshounds compilations have been released, covering all of the strips. The seventh book will be released after the end of the daily strips. However, they are only available in the United States.
Each book contains special bonus material. The first six books are published by Plan 9 Publishing. whereas the seventh is published by Lulu.com.
- Book 1 - Newshounds
- Book 2 - Tonight's Top Story
- Book 3 - Press Badge Blues
- Book 4 - We All Came Out to Mantra
- Book 5 - Regime Change
- Book 6 - Surgery in the Park
- Book 7 - All the Newshounds Fit to Print