Paul Gilligan, Creator of Pooch Cafe

25 June 2004

   Dogs. Big or shy, round or skinny, small or sassy. Cartoonists like to create comic strips about dogs. There are perhaps enough good and bad dog comics submitted to syndicates to fill a large kennel. With more barking at the door, one comic strip has made its way to the front of the pack. Pooch Café, created by Paul Gilligan, managed to capture the imagination of an acquisitions editor at Universal Press Syndicate and has bounded into place in the comics pages.

    In a Times Union interview in March of this year, Universal Press Syndicate acquisitions editor John Glynn mentioned, “Sometimes, people say there are too many dog strips, and I’m kind of in that school.” But, he found Pooch Café to be different. “Few are laugh-out-loud funny, and this is one of them.” *(1) It is high praise from someone who sees more comics than the average reader could ever imagine.

    Following the traditional themes of dog versus cat and dog versus humans, Pooch Café differs from other cartoons in the depth of personality in the numerous characters of the cartoon, the rich background of the café setting and the consistently funny gags. The Pooch Café is the meeting spot for talking dogs to sit at the bar and have a drink, compare their masters, grumble over cat troubles and discuss issues like the “patch.” Just like the smoking patch for humans, this one helps them break bad habits like mooching at the table. (You can enjoy this particular strip at )

    Cats, and humans with cats, are the evil enemy of Poncho, the central dog character. Even worse, he must persevere at his own home with both, as his master married a cat-loving woman. One of Poncho’s happier quirks is the joy he takes in gleefully applying his big, cold, wet nose to the bare back of an unsuspecting woman. His excuse is testing his health, “Because a cold nose is the sign of a healthy dog.” - Link no longer active

pooch cafe

    In creating Poncho, Paul Gilligan said, “I wanted a main character everyone can identify with. Poncho is whatever I want him to be – a dog, a best friend, a child or whatever the scene calls for and the Pooch Café is a place dogs can go and complain about life among the humans.” *(1)

    Living in Toronto, Ontario, Paul studied illustration and animation at the famed Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning near Toronto. He also studied comedy writing at the Film Institute in Ottawa. (Perhaps that's why the 'toon is so funny.) He gained employment with a large ad agency then went on to work as staff illustrator of the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. Paul previously paid the bills by toiling at interesting jobs such as florist, night watchman and gas jockey.

    Through his own freelance illustration studio in the Kensington Market district, Paul creates art for such heavy- weights as Canadian Tire, Time Magazine, Visa, Disney, the Globe and Mail and many more. Paul’s work also includes animation, comic books and magazine illustration. *(2)

    Paul has received several awards for his work including a National Newspaper Award for design in 1990 while at the Ottawa Citizen, Studio Magazine awards and IMNA awards. While Pooch Café has yet to garner awards, it has grown rapidly in popularity since being syndicated through Universal Press Syndicate in 2001, leaping from 25 newspapers in May 2003 to 121 newspapers by March 2004.

    Pooch Café is a true hoot, bursting with opportunities for laughter and fun. The creative and talented Paul Gilligan makes the most of every strip and leaves the reader drooling for more.

The first Pooch Cafe book is available: Pooch Cafe: All Dogs Naturally Know How to Swim, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2003.

*(1) (Link broken)


© Susanna McLeod 2004  
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on