Newspaper Comics in themselves are a dying art. The remaining strips that still manage to have a stranglehold on the market are mainstays that kept hanging on long after their original artists and creators have left this mortal coil. The Legacy strips being foisted off onto their relatives wanting to keep the faucet of finance running, or their old comics being constantly rerun into perpetual existence long after their sell-by date.
So its somewhat surprising that there still happen to be occasional worthy comics that haven't already jumped the queue for online presence where they're more likely to reach a wider audience. (And, of course, newspapers can barely afford to show ALL the comics to keep their dwindling audiences happy) I speak of Paul Gilligan's Pooch Café.
Starting out on January 3, 2000 at the turn of the Millennium, it didn't make too much of a presence, the majority being still shellshocked at the prospect of the Y2K dud. (If you want to see how dated an event is, look for how much disposable media references it. It happened with Halley's Comet, and it happened for Y2K) For the most part, Poncho was little more than a species-switched version of Garfield, who hung out with other dogs at a bar... now that I describe it, it's practically Nothing like Garfield.
Other than his constant begging for more food, his only defining trait is that Poncho is very easily distracted, and only smart when he pays attention to whatever's piqued his interest. Oftentimes, he can be very very dumb, and yet, also smart enough to heckle his master at any given opportunity.
As such, there have been sporadic collections of Pooch Café, the most notable being the epic that explored Poncho's early life lasting eighteen months. Yet, the online archive only goes back as far as 2003. Much of the early stuff is missing. Of course, compulsively researching old Newspaper Archives is a hobby of mine, and I found some that had been glossed over before other papers picked it up.
Of the comics above, only the Medicine Ball one was collected, leaving the others absent.
What surprised me was that the very first week set up the status quo fairly quickly. For the longest time, I was under the impression that Poncho and Chazz had been together for a long time before his wife entered the scene. Yet the second strip shatters that fragile illusion completely.
Another story arc was where Poncho attempted to sneak into a movie theater, leading to frantic ranting and convoluted schemes to get inside. First, he posed with Boomer as a drug-sniffing Police Dog, but eventually found success when walking besides his friend as a Seeing-Eye dog before the Teller got wise.
For the most part, rejected strips don't really contribute much to the overall theme, and some jokes tend to be rather played out.
Another mini-arc is when Poncho is traveling in a Mall with Chazz.
More stand-alone comics.
This one is very obviously based on a Calvin.
Of all the missing strips, this one is probably my favorite:
One of the longer two-week story arcs was when Carmen broke her leg, and Poncho wanted to "Thin the Herd", since she was no longer useful, and couldn't feed him. Her owning multiple cats just happened to be a bonus.
The last of the remaining comics for the month of May. Nothing real special to say about these. You can find the other comics via microfiche the hard way, or peruse the first collection, All Dogs Naturally Know How To Swim. Interestingly enough, the online newspaper for the week of May/June reprints the first comics from January, to introduce new readers to the comic.
Sadly, no Sunday comics could be found. For those, you'll have to complain to the source, or demand them elsewhere.