Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #100: Cool Cats

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #100 by Drew Barth

Cool Cats

The horrifying ordeal of being famous hits hardest when you’ve been doing something a hundred times. You’ve been reading this blog for a while now and there is something that has been a consistent staple of every single installment since its inception. If you guessed “worrying about my cat,” you guessed right.

So, for this hundredth edition of Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart, we’re talking about some cats.

Comics are rife with cats. From Krazy Kat to Felix to Dex-Starr to Biggs, American comics have been obsessed with these tiny bastards since their inception. But if we really want to dig into cats in the medium we’re going to be looking at some manga. Books like Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu, What’s Michael? by Makoto Kobayashi, and With a Dog and Cat, Every Day is Fun by Hidekichi Matsumoto all provide varied looks at cat life. Ito is known for his horror manga and he brings that unique style when writing about his first cats. Kobayashi’s work is from the 80s and focuses on movement and expression for its cat humor. Matsumoto had originally started her series as short comics on Twitter detailing her life with her dog and cat and their particular hijinks.

Cats are some of the most interesting subjects. All three images here contain distinct styles of cats and storytelling in their panels, but they’re all about simply living with a cat. Ito utilizes his trademark horror to render a cat both realistic and slightly disturbing, as he’s able to do with a variety of subjects. Matsumoto’s Neko is a cat that takes on the appearance of a Yakuza patriarch as it lords its power over her apartment. Michael in Kobayashi’s stories borders perfectly on the realistic and the cartoonish—she’s able to provide accurate cat anatomy, but with an exaggerated face for better realized expressions.

Why cats? Why spend all this material about a pet that runs away at the slightest show of affection? Because, despite all that, it’s nice to have these vicious little predators around. Yes, my cat can kill me in my sleep, but I can give him a hug later. That’s one of the reasons it’s so fun to look at cats in comics as well: this is an experience millions of us have, but we all have different ways of showing how our cats behave. We just don’t let Andrew Lloyd Webber do that anymore.

Get excited. Get a cat.

Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

One response to “Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #100: Cool Cats”

  1. […] I have talked about him and his work in the past, I can always talk at length about the wonderfully creeping horror of Junji Ito. Much of his most […]

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