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This webcomic probably sold me on the giant dog. Severin Piehl’s Tove is a kid-friendly adventure story that looks like it should be airing on Nickelodeon. There are two bratty kids, an explorer father and, of course, a giant fluffy dog. The cover of Tove is already tantalizing enough, with the dog, named Cranberry, carrying a heavy load like a pack mule while the two kids, Tove and Dag, dance on his back. It’s super-charming.
This is shaping up to be Tove’s story (she’s the title character, after all), Both kids are active and ready for adventure, but Tove is the one with the super-strength, as she’s been carrying Cranberry since he was a pup. She’s also the more mature one. Her brother Dag isn’t quite as blessed when it comes to abilities. He is, however, highly competitive, and not at all happy when he has to play second fiddle to his more capable sister.
Their dad is sort of a Dr. Benton Quest type, a hands-on scientist who’s sometimes too wrapped up in his work to see what shenanigans his kids are engaged in. He brings them with him to a remote jungle to do some research on an exotic flower. The kids, however, discover something even cooler: After horsing around, Tove and Dag stumble across an alien spaceship. Among her other abilities, Tove is also something of a gearhead, so the discovery of a potentially working engine makes her excited. Dag, on the other hand, is immediately bored. He wants to see guns and gadgets, so he finds it all very thrilling when they come across the corpse of a saurian alien skeleton.
Dag’s reckless curiosity gets them into trouble when he puts his fingers all over an orb, activating it. Tove pushes him out of the way, but ends up taking the brunt of the explosion. She disappears into thin air … and emerges in space. Is this another adventure for our budding explorer? And … wait. Does being in space mean that the big dog, the bratty brother, and the adventurer dad are left behind? Who knows? Tove embraces the spirit of adventure, including the challenge of the unknown as the the possibility that at any moment, anything can happen.
Piehl has an appealing art style, with characters that have the crisp Bryan Lee O’Malley style that’s been adopted by a lot of webcomic creators. It’s got both kid appeal and a bit of an edge. (Piehl’s other project, Princess Panic, embraces the absurdity of mashing-up child-friendly storylines and tropes with boring grown-up routines.) The colors are especially nice, using some pretty trippy pastel palettes in recent entries. It’s also rather early in its run, so it’s easy to get on the ground floor of Tove to join in on the adventure.