My relationship with cats has now spanned close to ten years. I never planned it to be this way. I was always raised to be a dog person. But this is the way things go, right? Over the past decade my wife invited me to share the pleasure, horror, humor, and seriousness of co-inhabiting multiple dwellings with 2 half maine coons.
Che and Tomo, now both 13, each have had distinct experiences that have shaped their current personalities: Che hates our friends just because, Tomo lives to eat and vomit grass, Che injured Tomo enough to have his hind leg amputated, and Tomo is quick to let us know how much he enjoys being scratched with a bevy blunt objects.
We know we dote on Tomo more than Che - probably due to his gentle nature and loss of limb. I don’t think Che minds though. He’d rather sit creepily on our front porch and leer at passing neighbors. My wife comments that Che is my cat anyways, since every morning he patiently waits for me on the sofa for me to have my coffee.
So my history prior to reading 'Cats' was thoroughly primed and I felt confident to tackle even the most schmaltzy of kitteh stories. The twenty-one cartoonists in š! #15 present a range of narratives that are equal parts funny, strange, and out right tear jerking.
Edie Fake’s Beachball straddles familiar and weird territory by placing a cartoon Edie in conversation with a pumpkin headed crust punk. The two friends briefly journey through a craggy/rural landscape and explain its surroundings (a tapped wine tree!) before encountering an adorably menacing feline.
Paul Paetzel’s Walter is a silent travelogue of the titular character. Walter helps an elderly couple exterminate an anthropomorphic pest problem. After rewarded by the matriarch, we are given a rare opportunity to see where cats really go when left to their own devices.
As the title alludes, Pedro Franz’s Dead Horses Remain on the Roadside is a bleak memoir. Franz guides the reader through fragmented memories of caring for abandoned kittens, a dissolved marriage, and remembering happier moments through the appropriated craft of Seiichi Hayashi.
Weng Pixin’s This Fifteen-Year Friendship is a celebration of the bond between her and her cat, Pica. The cartoonist depicts the loving relationship between the two through condensed memories prior to Pica’s passing. This is probably one of the most poignant stories I’ve read in awhile that evokes so much empathy through such seemingly simple storytelling.
König Lü.Q.’s Cat Under a Hot Tin Roof summarizes the anthology nicely by reminding us of the true nature of cats. If anything, this terse comic should serve as a guideline for us anxiety ridden humans.