Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Catboy

Originally a series of comics published online at Vice, Catboy tells the tale of what happens when a random wish comes true. One day 20-something artist Olive sees a falling star and wishes that her best friend (and cat) Henry could hang out with her as a human. Voila, the next day he is in her apartment in human form, and her life will never be the same.
 
What makes this book work so well is how idiosyncratic and humorous Olive and Henry's relationship is. She has to teach him to try to be as human as possible, though he still lusts after other cats and wants to eat delicacies like dead birds. Some of the jokes come from those situations, but more of them come at Olive's expense, when it becomes clear just how much she is struggling in ways that Henry immediately excels. She tends to have few friends and keeps to herself. Henry immediately makes everyone his friend, including Dixie, whom Olive has been trying to befriend for years. He gets a successful job as a dogwalker and begins to make more money than her, even buying proper furniture for their apartment. She is struggling to be a professional artist, and he walks into his first sketching session and displays virtuoso skills. Still, even with these disparities, there is no mean-spiritedness. Both are true friends, and they always try to uplift each other.

The artwork here is another big sell for this book. As you can see from the excerpt, it incorporates some manga conventions in ways that make each character vibrant. The colors and backgrounds make this a very familiar and inviting world, making it easy to relate to the plights of these young people trying to make their way through life.  Even though the premise is pretty silly, the combination of stylish outfits, expressive artwork, strong relationships, and quirky situations makes for a very satisfying read.

This book was created by Benji Nate, who has another  attractive and unorthodox-looking comic called Lorna available from Silver Sprocket. She talks about her work on Catboy in this interview.

All of the reviews I have read of this book have been positive. Robin Enrico wrote, "While the stories in this collection are short and simple they are constantly funny and frequently resonant." Rob Clough called it a book that embodies "a new kind of punk attitude, one emphasizing sincerity, kindness and openness." It currently has a 4.11 star (out of 5) rating on Goodreads.

Catboy was published by Silver Sprocket Press, and they offer a preview and more here.

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