Krazy Kats: The Graveyard Cats, Goodbye Kitty and Lizz Lunney's Minicomics
Posted by Andy Oliver on Jun 14, 2012
Small Pressganged is Broken Frontier’s weekly column designed to shine a spotlight on the often overlooked world of small press and self-published comics. Every Thursday we provide a mix of review round-ups of the best of current small press comics and spot interviews with some of the movers and shakers of the scene.
This week we’re back with a trio of feline-based features including Hitsville UK co-writer Dan Cox’s The Graveyard Cats, the charming one-shot Goodbye Kitty and another trip into the surreal imagination of Depressed Cat creator Lizz Lunney. As ever, prices quoted are the originals for point of origin. Please check out each individual store for details on international orders and postage and packaging costs.
The Graveyard Cats
Daniel Cox (writer/artist)
Dan Cox is one half of the writing team of the psychedelic music industry parody Hitsville UK which I enthusiastically reviewed here at Broken Frontier a few months back. The Graveyard Cats sees him flying solo with a humorous paranormal strip that has a parallel incarnation in webcomics publishing.
The eponymous cats themselves are the agents of the Parliament of Bones, unearthly entities who exist to shepherd lost souls from one world to the next. The Parliament resides in a crumbling church situated on a spiritual crossroads between the lands of the living and the dead. In the graveyard outside, the cats – Barnaby, Polly, Uncle Charley, Murgatroyd and Nazoo – act as the last defence against all the preternatural oddities that flow through this nexus, occasionally hindered by enthusiastic but inexperienced kitten Ringo.
In this first misadventure the Graveyards Cats must contend with the mummy of a disgraced former pharaoh who has made a bid for freedom and come through the portal from the netherworld. But the lands of the dead are never willing to give up their residents for long and the mummy soon proves to be a far lesser threat when compared to the mystical Doooom Serpent pursuing him. Supernatural silliness and possessed pussycats ensue in a madcap skirmish to return both beings to their correct plane of existence…
The Graveyard Cats has an almost animated feel to its hi-jinks as the cats spend the best part of 40 of the 45 pages engaging in surreal slapstick antics and unabashed buffoonery defending their graveyard home. Cox has created a most likeable bunch of characters here with very distinct personalities and he has a wonderful facility for executing effective comedic set pieces. I was also rather taken with the running gags that litter the strip and never fail to raise a smile.
Cox’s art blends cartoony capers with a very real sense of the morbid and the eerie. Indeed The Graveyard Cats is a curious mix of the jesting and the foreboding, as we’re reminded at tale’s end that there’s a real and very ominous threat to the Parliament of Bones waiting in the wings...
If I have one small niggle with the print copy it’s that its size means that some of the text is a little small at times and not necessarily easy on the eye. However, that small point aside, The Graveyard Cats is an engaging blend of clowning nonsense and portentous weirdness that’s well worth the requisite investment of your time!
Rus Hudda/eat, sleep, sniff (writer/artist)
A semi-spin-off from the charming eat, sleep, sniff site featuring comic strips that provide gentle, uplifting, observational humour about the daily life of a cat owner, Goodbye Kitty is a moving and complete-in-one tale of coming to terms with loss and moving on.
Inspired by the author’s experience of reading a letter sent to a cat charity by a young girl, Goodbye Kitty genuinely pulls at the heartstrings without ever crossing the line into mawkish self-indulgence. It’s a kind of “What if…?” story in that it concerns itself with a recently bereaved younger pet owner being given the opportunity to say a proper farewell to her departed animal companion when said cat makes one final appearance to give her a sense of closure.
The story is told entirely without words and it's worth noting at this point that it takes a special ability to produce a truly effective “silent” comic strip. While, superficially, it may appear that such tales are using a creative economy in conveying their narrative, the reality is that successfully communicating a story without the props of language is a skill in itself. In Goodbye Kitty the particular strengths of the comic strip page to evoke the audience’s emotions are richly exploited. It’s confident and assured in structure with an expressive and often poignant visual style.
Goodbye Kitty may be necessarily slight in plot but it’s a heartwarming 18-pager that epitomises the feelgood factor despite the sadness inherent in its subject matter. A truly beautiful piece of storytelling that was a joy to read, and one that I feel could have a practical use with younger readers in similar situations as the comic’s protagonist.
Tofu + Cats and other new releases from Lizz Lunney
Lizz Lunney (writer/artist)
Lizz Lunney’s work has featured in this column a couple of times in the past (here and here) and I’ve made no secret of my love for her whimsical wit and recurring cast of brilliantly bizarre characters. There are a number of new Lunney comics available now and, at the risk of repeating myself to the point of being tedious, they’re as sharp, delightful and amusingly absurd as ever.
Keeping in line with this week’s feline theme Lunney’s most popular character Depressed Cat, the world weary master of the well-timed “Sigh!”, is one of a number of her creations to feature in anthology comic At the Caves. With a cover mimicking the thematic feel of the old British I-Spy books for children this is a welcome opportunity to enjoy the peculiar personalities and character traits of Leaning Rabbit, Sour Rabbit and Crispy Duck, Dullbog the Bulldog and the much put-upon Magical Unicorns of Keith the Wizard.
Sentient tofu chunks considering the meaning of life, and just why the dinosaurs didn’t become extinct are explored in one of two new flipbook comics Tofu + Cats/A Dinosaur Tale!!. And you’ll learn more about the bullying nature of trolls and just why you should never invite a horse into your house in Curse of the Bogmen/Horseome. If that description of the wild flights of fancy contained in both minicomics doesn’t pique your interest then it’s somewhat difficult to imagine what would.
It’s also worth mentioning that Lizz has teamed up with fellow small pressers Joe List and Soju Tanaka on a postcard book Dream Locations showcasing their individual styles on cards that depict a plethora of unlikely fantastic locales. If you’ve ever had the desire to send a postcard to a chum from places like Hank the Living City, the World’s Best Car Park, the Avocado Caves, Trembling Island or the Monkey Mountain Mania Adventure World then here’s your chance!
I could go on saying laudatory things about Lizz Lunney’s books but if you’ve been following Small Pressganged for any length of time then, let's face it, you’ll have heard them all before anyway. Let’s just unoriginally paraphrase Dr. Johnson and say “a reader who is tired of Lizz Lunney comics is tired of life” and leave it at that.
Andy Oliver is Broken Frontier’s Managing Editor and a contributor to Paul Gravett’s 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die.
If you are a small press comics creator, or self-publisher, and would like your work to be reviewed in a future edition of Small Pressganged then e-mail Andy at email@example.com for further details. You can also follow Andy on Twitter here.
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