The last time I met Osamu Tezuka was at Daicon V, the 25th Japan National Science Fiction Convention, in Osaka on August 24-25, 1986. He was in a good mood, and told me through a helpful fan interpreter that he had just started a new manga that I was sure to like, considering my fondness for funny animals. It was a new version of Astro Boy – turned into a cat! “WHY?”, I asked. He chuckled and said something like, “Why not? It’s important to not take yourself too seriously.”
Tezuka had created Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy) in 1952 and drawn his adventures until 1968, including the five intense years of the TV series (1963-1966, with production starting in 1962). After that, Tezuka was “Astro Boyed out”, and turned down numerous requests to create new adventures of the robot little boy. He had other stories that he wanted to develop in manga and anime. So, when he got a request from the children’s Smile Comics in 1986 to produce a new manga for young readers, why did he return to Astro Boy, but as a kitten; besides “Why not?”
Well, Atomcat never pretended to be more than a humorous trifle. It was a self-parody, and also a parody of all the talking animal comics where a human little boy or girl has an animal companion to help him or her out. In Atomcat, young Tsugio is the only human who knows that Atom the kitten is not an ordinary kitten, and Atom protects Tsugio from being bullied. Yet Tsugio is such a coward and crybaby that Atom, exasperated, has to take the lead most of the time. Tezuka was very proud of having worked out the English pun Atomcat = A Tomcat, since he claimed not to speak English. He probably also delighted in naming the school bully who always picks on Tsugio, “Gaddafi”. Atomcat was published in the monthly Smile Comics for seven months, seven self-contained stories, from July 1986 to February 1987. The last couple of stories lacked the freshness of the first stories. I suspect that Tezuka had lost interest in Atomcat and was just hacking out the last few stories; he was probably glad to end the series.
I “read” Atomcat in Kodansha’s 400-volume Japanese Osamu Tezuka Complete Manga Works around 1997; that is to say, I looked at the artwork. This current Atomcat edition from Digital Manga’s Platinum Manga has enabled me to read it in English for the first time.
Gardena, CA, Digital Manga Publishing, April 2013, trade paperback $12.95 (194 [+ 9] pages).
New news for the upcoming Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 3rd at comic book stores all over. This time, from the Viz Media imprint Perfect Square: “Hello Kitty and her friends star in all-new comic book adventures, and this time they’re letting their imaginations run wild! Plus: Don’t miss the sneak peek of Perfect Square’s upcoming tribute book celebrating Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary. Bonus feature! Perfect Square introduces exciting Bravest Warriors adventures featuring the irrepressible Catbug!” More on this and other Free Comic Book Day offerings can be found at the official web site.
In 2005 Evan Dorkin (writer) and Jill Thompson (artist) won an Eisner Award for their original comic book series Beasts of Burden, about a haunted small town and the local dogs and cats who do nightly battle with the deadly forces of evil trying to invade. Now comes the brand-new Beasts of Burden: Hunters and Gatherers, a one-shot full-color comic designed to introduce new readers to the animals of Burden Hill and their struggles. This time around, our furry heroes discover that a friendly half-werewolf might just be more help than they bargained for. Hunters and Gatherers will be available at comic book stores this March, from Dark Horse Press.
New this month from Hermes Press is the new deluxe hardcover collection of Scratch 9: The Pet Project. “Following Scratch9′s FCBD adventure, comes the complete Eisner Award-nominated story of The Pet Project. Scratch is a house cat who must save his animal pals from the clutches of Dr. Schrodinger and the C.R.U.E.L. corporation. Fortunately he can tap into all of his nine lives to help him out in jam! This deluxe edition collects the original story plus the Cat Tails anthology, along with all-new bonus materials!” It’s written by Rob M. Worley with art by Jason T. Kruse, Joshua Buchanan, and others. Check out the preview at Comic Book Resources.
Somehow we missed these! Back in 2011, author Rael Bayellis released not one but two erotic fantasy novels (or as the author calls them, paranormal romances) on line. Both are set in a modern world that also features magick, fey folk, wizards… and shadow cats, winged feline spirits. In Helen and the Shadow Cat, a bored housewife fantasizes about an affair with a shadow cat she passes one day — unaware that he has his eyes on her as well! And in Allison & Tiberius, a young college student from a backwater town observes a shadow cat hovering outside her dorm room window one day — and thus begins her adventures. More books in the Shadow Cat series have followed since then. Remember, these books are decidedly for adults only! The author’s works can be found in electronic form at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.
Fred Patten will have a new anthology, Five Fortunes, on sale at Further Confusion 2014. The 415-page tome, published by FurPlanet, presents five brand-new novellas by fan-favorite Furry authors, four of them featuring their popular characters or settings:
- “Chosen People” by Phil Geusz, set in his Book of Lapism world.
- “Going Concerns” by Watts Martin, set in his Ranea world.
- “When a Cat Loves a Dog” by Mary E. Lowd, set in her Otters in Space world.
- “Piece of Mind” by Bernard Doove, set in his Chakat Universe.
- The fifth story is “Huntress” by Renee Carter Hall, in a new setting of tribal anthropomorphic African lions.
Sheriff Callie’s Wild West is a new CGI animated TV series for preschool kids, coming soon to Disney Junior. Starring the voice of Mandy Moore (Tangled), it tells the story of Callie — a calico cat, the loyal and heroic sheriff of a little western town called Nice and Friendly Corners — and her friends and associates as they learn important little life lessons. There’s an article at Entertainment Weekly that includes a preview video of the show. Sheriff Callie’s Wild West is available now at WATCHDisneyJunior.com and the WATCH Disney Junior smartphone and tablet app. It debuts on the Disney Channel and Disney Junior in early 2014.
Have you heard that Satan is a Furry; a cat-man from the Large Magellanic Cloud, responsible for all the evils on Earth?
That might be funny if over ten million people did not believe it.
This probably would have made more sense back around Halloween, but… Pick your own horror adventure: On four paws! “Inspired by the gamebook fad of the 80′s, You Are a Cat in the Zombie Apocalypse! is the much-anticipated sequel to the first book in the Pick-a-Plot series, You Are a Cat! Lavishly illustrated from the first-person feline floor purrspective, the furightening and appawling You Are a Cat in the Zombie Apocalypse! is a horror tail that will stalk you, surround you and eat you alive.” This very strange black & white paperback graphic novel — where you choose on each page which horrible experience you have next — is available now on Amazon. It’s written and illustrated by Sherwin Tija, and published by Conundrum Press.
Lots of fandom folks (anime, furry, science fiction and otherwise) got excited this fall with the news that the team behind Cowboy BeBop had created a new, openly-silly science fiction anime called Space Dandy. The teaser trailer started making the rounds on YouTube. Well now comes even better news: Thanks to the efforts of Funimation, Space Dandy will be the first ever anime to premier in Japan and dubbed on American TV, simultaneously. It’ll be part of Adult Swim’s Toonami collection. Here’s what the producers say: “Space Dandy is a dandy in space! This dreamy adventurer with a to-die-for pompadour travels across the galaxy in search of aliens no one has ever laid eyes on. Each new species he discovers earns him a hefty reward, but this dandy has to be quick on his feet because it’s first come – first served!
“Coming in 2013!” Many movies that are announced never come out. Two that were announced in 2013 as “coming soon” and then disappeared seem to be unfortunate M.I.A.s, from Flayrah’s point of view.
Oggy and the Cockroaches: The Movie. “Ever since the world was born, two forces have been locked in perpetual battle. Their struggle is so Manichean, so ferocious, so Herculean that it makes the clash between good and evil look like a game of checkers! This ancestral duel is so ancient and so merciless that it can only be...Oggy against the Cockroaches!” The trailer, featuring the eternal battle between cats and cockroaches “from the Stone Age to the Space Age”, shows an imaginative mixture of animation styles, with the Stone Age and Medieval age in traditional 2D cartoon animation, the present as a mixture of cartoon and computer graphic imagery, and the futuristic Space Age sequences in all CGI.
Did you ever hear of Oggy and the Cockroaches: The Movie? Did you ever hear of an Oggy and the Cockroaches regular animated TV series? Then you’re not French, Indian, or Vietnamese. Oggy et les Cafards, 7 minutes an episode, has been broadcast in France since 1998, and has sold to Indian and Vietnamese TV. The Indian broadcast appears on the Cartoon Network there, but in Hindi. The two-hour movie premiered in French theaters on August 7, 2013, and since a trailer in English exists, someone is apparently trying to get it distributed in America. Good luck.
Felix the Cat, the creation of Pat Sullivan and Otto Messmer, is perhaps one of the most famous and long-lived cartoon animals ever — pre-dating even Mickey Mouse. In the 1950′s, Joe Oriolo created a well-known series of cartoon shorts for Trans Lux Productions, which helped to bring Felix and his friends (and enemies!) to a new generation. Since the 1980′s, control of the “Felix Empire” has belonged to Joe’s son, Don Oriolo. Don has overseen the creation and distribution of Felix’s image on numerous products and in numerous media. Many of the images of Felix used for these were drawn and painted by Don himself. Now, IDW Publishing have collected Don Oriolo’s works together in a new full-color hardcover book, Felix the Cat Paintings. Check it out at Amazon, before it hits the shelves early next year. The book features a forward by comic book historian Craig Yoe, as well as essays from cartoon aficionados like Jerry Beck, Mark Evanier, David Gerstein, and Paul Castiglia.
As if that were news to anyone! Well, just in case you weren’t sure, comic strip artist Jeffrey Brown is here to tell you about it in his collection called, appropriately enough, Cats Are Weird and More Observations. Published back in 2010 (somehow we missed it!), this hardcover collection brings together both black & white and color observations of a pair of felines as they learn about the worlds both inside and out. Earlier, back in 2009, Jeffrey had success with his first cat-themed collection, Cat Getting Out of a Bag. You can see both of these books at Jeffrey’s Amazon page. More recently, he’s made a name for himself with the popular Darth Vader and Son comic strip series.
Otters in Space: The Search for Cat Havana by Mary E. Lowd is a short novel that received a 2010 Ursa Major Award nomination. It's a work of light science-fiction that I think might appeal to young adult readers. It's available from FurPlanet and Amazon, and in electronic format - see the author's website for details and links. I read the FurPlanet 2012 edition, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-61450-043-8.
See also: Fred Patten's earlier summary and review. (Contains spoilers.)
Mary Lowd's name really first stood out to me in the 2012 Ursa Recommended Anthropomorphics List, which included six of her short stories. It's not unusual to see authors with multiple recommendations on the list, although when they all appear at the same time, it feels like overkill. Anyway, of those six, I definitely enjoyed St. Kalwain and the Lady Uta, appearing in ROAR volume 4, so I was curious what she would do in a longer format.
Does anyone besides me care about this bureaucratic trivia? This is a good read, in a handy trade paperback edition for those who don’t want to read it on their computer. Get it in one format or the other.
But this is a direct sequel to Lowd’s Ursa-Major-nominated Otters in Space: The Search for Cat Havana. If there is any flaw with Otters in Space II, it is that you need to have read the first book to really understand it. Or at least read the review of it, in Flayrah on February 6, 2012.