September 6, 2011

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SPX Spotlight: Sara Lindo's Wall Street Cat

This is part of Panel Patter's SPX Spotlight, a series of reviews of work from creators or publishers who will be attending SPX in 2011 leading up to the show on September 10th and 11th, 2011!

Wall Street Cat:  Money Takes Naps
Written by Sara Lindo
Illustrated by Sara Lindo
Self-Published

Ike is your typical house cat, except that unlike those lazy feline bums you have at your own house, he actually has a job!  You see, sometimes people who are stressed out at work need someone to talk to, someone who won't judge them or even give them cliched advice.  Who better than a cat?  This is the story of Ike, who keeps a group of high-strung Wall Street employees sane with soft fur and helpful meows.

This is such a cute premise for a comic.  We've seen animals in the workplace before, but instead of an anthropomorphic representation, Lindo opts to give Ike a job doing what he does best--being a relaxing, calming influence on those around him.  He's a therapy animal rather than a comedic device, and that's what makes this work so well.  Lindo isn't trying to do anything fancy with the concept--she's playing it straight and I think that works better than any of the alternatives could have been.

The comic itself is extremely well-paced.  We start with Ike getting up and "dressed" and moving through New York like any other commuter.  I love watching him take a seat on the subway or get on an elevator, with those around him acting like it's perfectly normal.  It's a great riff on the idea of an animal working in the human world.  (Nice touch that he has to "stand" on the ride home.)  By the time we hit the midpoint, Ike's role is clear, and before we know it, he's slowly making his way home, to nap after a hard day of, well, being a cat.  Just enough time is spent on each part of establishing Ike's life, creating a whole story that's not only satisfying but extremely endearing.

Lindo's art style works well for a tale like this one.  She's able to build the world around Ike that feels real without going into elaborate detail.  Her human characters are varied in size and shape, and some of the panel design choices deserve a little extra time to linger over the structure.  I noticed several times where Lindo used the backgrounds as a framing device, which I thought was quite clever.  Best of all in this case is her ability to give Ike varied facial expressions that help to express emotion while remaining entirely cat-like. That's no easy task, but Lindo pulls it off quite well, I think.

I'm generally attracted to comics about cats, but that doesn't always mean they're good comics.  This is a very good comic that uses a cat protagonist in a unique way with a good sense of storytelling.  It's one of my favorite cat stories, and I think it will be one of yours, too, once you pick it up at SPX!  (Wall Street Cat isn't in Ms. Lindo's store yet, but you should check for it here, if you're unable to attend the show.)

[Sara was kind enough to provide me with a copy of this book for review.  Thanks, Sara!  If you are interested in having your comic reviewed by me, please contact me at trebro@gmail.com.]