Who knew that Natasha Allegri, creator of Bee & Puppcat, was the one who came up with the idea of gender-swapping the main characters of Adventure Time to create Fiona and Cake? And who knew that her Kickstarter campaign for Bee & Puppycat would become the highest-funded web series in Kickstarter history? (Well, okay, if you’re a fan of hers you probably knew those things!) All of this was more than enough inspiration for Boom! Studios to launch their own full-color Bee & Puppycat comic book mini-series under their Kaboom! imprint. It’s out there now (written and illustrated by Natasha Allegri with help from Garrett Jackson), and you can read more about it at the Kaboom! web site.
This is Book 3 of the Tails from the Upper Kingdom; the direct sequel to To Journey in the Year of the Tiger and To Walk in the Way of Lions. In those two, Captain Kirin Wynegarde-Grey, a genetic lion-man (yes, he has a tail) and commander of the Empress’ personal guard in a far-future post-apocalypse dynastic China (with touches of feudal Japan) that has forgotten its past, leads an expedition consisting of his geomancer brother, his snow leopard-woman adjutant, a young tiger-woman scholar, a cheetah-woman alchemist, and a mongrel-man (mixed feline) priest into unknown western lands. They encounter canine nomads in what was Mongolia, and really exotic animal-peoples in what was Europe; and they learn the true history of the world and the apocalypse that destroyed it. The expedition is much smaller when the survivors return to the Empress’ court in the Upper Kingdom two years later, just as the Year of the Tiger has ended.
In the Oriental Zodiac, the Year of the Tiger is followed by the Year of the Rabbit – except in Vietnam, which recognizes the Year of the Cat. (True; look it up.) In this novel, the future Vietnam is called simply Nam, and there is no word for rabbit. (In the real world and the present, the Vietnamese word for rabbit is ‘tho’.)
And so, we begin our story with the birth of a baby, the weeping of a dog and a cup of hot sweet tea, naturally in the Year of the Cat. (p. 1)
Galacticat is a regularly-updated black & white on-line comic story about a cat in space named Wallace… with a little bird named Elpy. It’s written by Gene Goldstein and illustrated by Kasey Williams — and the pair make regular appearances at various comic book and anime conventions. What’s more, the first 10 chapters of Galacticat have been collected in a pair of books, Volume 1 and Volume 2, available on both Amazon and Createspace. There’s information about ordering each of them on the Galacticat web site, as well as the latest pages of the story.
Frans Vischer grew up using his drawings as a way to communicate after his parents immigrated with him to America from Holland. That practice from an early age won him the sponsorship of animation legend Chuck Jones, an admission to CalArts… and eventually a job in animation for himself. Over the years he’s worked on such films as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Cat’s Don’t Dance, and The Princess and the Frog. More recently he’s parlayed his talents into his own line of illustrated children’s book. In the first, Jimmy Dabble, a young farm-boy befriends his barnyard animal friends and later saves the day with his unusual method of doing chores. For his second book, Mr. Vischer introduced the world to Fuddles — a pr0udly over-sized cat, based on the author’s own real-life household companion. He’s also introduced a line of Fuddles prints. You can find them and more at his web site, including a look at his upcoming third book, A Very Fuddles Christmas.
Psycologist, hypnotist, and philosopher, A.B. Curtiss is also and accomplished author with several award-winning books to her name. And several of her fiction books just happen to be of interest to furry fans. Legend of the Giant Panda (illustrated by Mirto Golino) is exactly what it sounds like: A mythic telling of how pandas got their distinctive black and white markings. Hallelujah, A Cat Comes Back is a “cat book of virtues”, where a young tom gives us the feline wisdom brought down to him from his wise granny-cat. Illustrated with a collection of Victorian feline prints. Dragons Guard The Zoo is a collection of poems on many subjects, including animals real and fanciful. And In the Company of Bears (illustrated by Barbara Stone) has been described as a “children’s philosophy book”, in which bears are used to illustrate soothing rhymes about accepting people for what they are. All of these and more are available on Amazon and at Ms. Curtiss’ web site.
Cynthia Petrovic is an artist and illustrator who has worked as a story-board artist at places like Warner Brothers Television Animation. Branching out on her own, she created a line of artwork and other products called Red Tango, based around her fascination for critters — especially rather slim and stylized felines. She has a very animated interactive web page that includes not only her current products but also samples of her story-board work.
One of the big hits at this year’s WonderCon in Anaheim (California) was Tentacle Kitty. And why not? Who wouldn’t want a little pink 8-legged beastie crawling over to them and purring? Well… Created by the delightfully odd folks at TentacleKitty.com, this feline cephalopod lives with her friend in a strange and magical place of cotton candy mice (yum!) and rat-tailed unicorns (ooo!). Not making sense? Just visit the web site and check out the latest on-line comic and some of the available plushies and t-shirts and other tie-in items coming up. Plenty of people at WonderCon did.
Funny Animals and More: From Anime to Zoomorphics, based on Fred Patten’s weekly columns from Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research animation website, was published March 26 by Theme Park Press. It is available in paperback and digital formats, and on Amazon.com.
The book is about animation and comic books rather than specifically anthropomorphic animals, but cartoon and CGI funny animals are a major theme. Topics include anime cat girls; Pokémon and Monster Rancher; Astro Boy and Atomcat; how a popular 1970s anime TV series led to the import of thousands of baby North American raccoons into Japan as pets, whose descendants are ruining thousand-year-old Buddhist and Shinto shrines today; animated Summer Olympics mascots like Misha the bear cub, Sam the eagle, Hodori the tiger, and Cobi the sheepdog, from 1972 to 2012; Patten’s favorite childhood comic-book funny animals like Amster the Hamster, Doodles Duck and his nephew Lemuel, Nutsy Squirrel, Dunbar Dodo, and SuperKatt, and how he would still like to see them animated; Crusader Rabbit; rats in animation; Reynard the Fox in animation; and Disney’s forthcoming 2016 Zootopia.
Here’s another movie with furry aspects for 2014 to add to the addendum to the addendum to the addendum; The Voices, a movie that Wikipedia helpfully describes as a “comedy crime horror thriller film”. It features Ryan Reynolds hearing voices from his pets, notably a dog who acts as his conscience, and a cat who would prefer he just kill people.
The creator of Tiny Titans is branching out in a funny animal direction now, as Art Baltazar and his friends bring us Captain Action Cat: The Timestream CATastrophe, a new full-color 4-issue comic miniseries starting this month from Dynamite Entertainment. Check out this promo from Comic Book Resources: “From the Eisner and Harvey award-winning, New York Times bestselling famous cartoonists Art Baltazar and Franco comes the crossover epic event of a lifetime! Finally, Captain Action Cat meets Action Cat and the characters from Aw Yeah Comics! Also crossing over with Dark Horse Comics characters such as Ghost, X, Captain Midnight, and The Occultist, this series promises the typical zaniness that the creators of Tiny Titans are known for. True story! In Captain Action Cat: The Timestream CATastrophe #1, there is something evil out there and Evil Cat is determined to find it… even if it means searching throughout the Silver Age to do it!”
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.