Aotearoa has a rich and varied history of folk legends and urban myths in addition to the rich history of Maori myth and legend. The Heading Dog Who Split in Half collects these half-realised dreams together with stunningly beautiful graphics. This book makes for engaging and captivating reading experience for readers of all ages.
The Heading Dog Who Split in Half is a collection of graphic short stories brings to the wider world a side of New Zealand that’s eccentric, quirky and just plain weird and from this we can explore magically shape-shifting sheep dogs, phantom waka, legendary car-sized crayfish, along with romantic Romeo and Juliet type trysts from New Zealand’s whaling days in the Far North.
These are the type of yarns that are spun over several generations, and are passed down over many campfires, porches and maraes over the decades to become this wonderful book.
Great comic books are universally loved in New Zealand and sometimes this is exported to the world. Remember Footrot Flats from the 80’s? This wry comic by Murray Ball about rural farming life became an animated film and spurred one of the most well-loved Kiwi anthems Slice of Heaven by Dave Dobbyn.
The Heading Dog that Split in Half has the same potential as loving slice of Kiwi culture.
There is an exquisite attention to detail here in terms of language used, graphic design and a sense of lived history. This is a graphic novel that will take you on a whirlwind tour through the guts of New Zealand history, and how the highly politicised and at times fraught relationship between Pākehā and Māori developed to what it is today. Aside from those politics and perhaps in spite of them, this is the kind of book that could be loved universally by Kiwis of all tribal affiliations.
All terrain is covered here from the rolling lush hills of the Eastern Cape and Poverty Bay, to the turquoise bays of Waitangi and the Far North and the jagged snow-topped mountains of Otago and Canterbury plains. These are tales of New Zealand in paradoxically more gentler and wilder times when the die hadn’t been cast. Nobody knew which way was up or down in a country full of natural wonders built on a cantankerous volcanic belly.
If you haven’t heard of these tales then you certainly should find out about Dunedin’s Tunnel Beach, Lake Tarawera’s phantom canoe and the heading dog (i.e. sheep dog) that split in half. The genesis of this remarkable book came about when well-known writer Michael Brown and esteemed comic-artist Mat Tait decided to embarked upon a book that’s designed to appeal to the kiwi diaspora everywhere and people longing to get in touch with a New Zealand that’s now lost in the mists of time.
See more of Mat Tait’s amazing illustration
Buy The Heading Dog Who Split In Half. (Great gift! Gave it to my dad for Christmas last year – he loved it)
8 thoughts on “Book Review: The Heading Dog That Split in Half by Brown and Tait”
Shape-shifting sheep-dogs!!! Love-it!
It is really lovely Mike, I think you would really enjoy these stories
I have never read any graphic novels — I feel I may be missing out…
Me neither Jeremy until this one and it sort of got me into it…there is a whole universe of graphic novels to explore!
I actually have the first couple Neil Gaiman’s Sandman on my ipad…should give them a go. I’m interested!
What a fun book, and I love the art style. My niece and nephews are Kiwis and I bet they’d really enjoy this!
I think they would like it yeah, it has a very subtle and dry Kiwi sense of humor running through it, and it’s very quirky. Even many adults would like it