I do book signings every once in a while, typically at used bookstores as they are the friendliest hosts that can be imagined. At my last book signing, an older gentleman and his eight-year-old son walked past my table.
"Look," the father said, pointing at me. "A real live author!"
The child looked at me quizzically, and I merely smiled.
"Go. Tell him about your new book!" The parent urged him, leaving me a tad surprised.
For those that have penned a short story or two, you'll find that once published every person imaginable wants to share their pet project with you. I used to be uncomfortable, but I've lightened up and now engage with anyone who clearly has a passion for writing.
So, when the boy (Brian, by the way) held up a small book with an anthropomorphic dog in a cops uniform, I smiled.
"Tel me about it!" I urged him, and he passed me the book.
I expected magic and wonder. What I got was something far darker than most of my own work.
Look at the red book, at Dog Man. Look carefully. Notice that od marks where his neck should be?
Those are stitches.
Yeah, turns out Dog Man was once an inept police office AND his equally goofy dog. After an evil cat blew them up with a bomb, a doctor saved the decapitated officer by transplanting the dead dog's head onto the man's body!
Children have a modern retelling of Frankenstein's monster, except that the clumsy undead creation is in fact a lovable do-gooder.
This is when I vowed to myself that I'd write a kid's book, just to say I'd done it. I'd do my damnedest to get it published, and would push it into the light of every critic's eye.
Because eight-year-old Brian told me of the horror of Dog Man with the most excited, proud smile that I've only seen on the zealously religious.
He doesn't recoil in horror. He doesn't do it because Dog Man is a happy-go-lucky abomination. If this fictiuonal world had any rationale people, they'd try and destroy Dog Man just to find out what makes him tick.
The villain of the first book? The evil cat? Yeah, he's a super intelligent professor. So, the ones looking to end Dog Man are the ones who inadvertently led to his creation. True, the cat had bombed a law official. Bombing anyone is reprehensible. But when he tries to kill Dog Man (again?) he is doing what would be best for humanity, I think.
We don't need undead man/dog hybrids taking vigilante jobs as a quirky hobby.