February 15, 2015

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2 Cat Minis! Frankie Comics 1 by Rachel Dukes and Cats by Erin Hunting

What's better that a mini-comic about a cat?

TWO OF THEM, OF COURSE!


Cats
Written and Illustrated by Erin Hunting
Self-Published

Bundled as part of the excellent Mini-Comic of the Month Club from Australia (which I hope I can resume subscribing to this coming year), this little gem of a sketchbook features Ms. Hunting putting cats into different funny costumes, ranging from the superhero on the cover to clawsplaying* Tom Cruise to a double-page spread putting one inside a robotic death-machine (that doubles as a can opener).

The drawings are black and white, with the cats drawn in caricature-style, featuring large, expressive faces and smaller bodies. Hunting's linework reminds me a bit of Joel Carroll, working with the idea of "cute" but not falling into parody or too much "twee." There isn't an overload of detail, but the thick black lines carry a lot of the heavy lifting. They're really fun to look at, and as a sketchbook mini, this works very well. It would be great to slip into a friend's birthday card who loves cats.


Frankie Comics 1
Written and Illustrated by Rachel Dukes
Self-Published

Creator Rachel Dukes tells the story of her cat Frankie in a series of minis called, shockingly, I,Claudius Frankie Comics. This is the first one, opening with discovering Frankie, learning to live with her quirks, and and how life with a cat quickly becomes some of the best moments of your life--and also the most frustrating.

Obviously, these are exaggerated for effect (I doubt that Frankie is actually able to knock Rachel out of a chair), the things she depicts, like how a cat will ignore their bed to find a good backpack, slip out an apartment door faster than you can blink, and will steal a warm chair without a moment's hesitation. These short comics, like Jeffrey Brown's Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations or Alisa Harris's Counter Attack series, are a chance for the creator to share their cat stories visually, doing the same thing on the page that every cat owner does to anyone who'll listen--talk endlessly about their pet.


But the thing is that it works. Just like going over with your best, cat-owning, friends about the time your tabby fell out of a window when a dog barked, and pantomiming it wildly, these comics are very endearing and familiar. Dukes' style works perfectly for them, too, as she's very good at capturing a lot of action in a very short space (these are primarily drawn in a newspaper-strip style), making it feel like Frankie is actually moving. With Rachel and her partner as the straight men for the cat's antics, they watch or react as Frankie leaps, meows, and, of course, destroys. Her avatars for the humans are slick and easily recognizable, able to do whatever she needs them to. Meanwhile, Frankie is all ovals that shift and curl across the page. Combined with extensive gray tones that take their shading from the original web version colors, there's a lot of depth despite the small size of the reproduction and not a huge amount of background details.

It's not like Frankie Comics would be hard for me to like in the first place, but I read a lot of cat-related comics and I can definitely say that this is one of my favorites, and is highly recommended.

You can get Frankie Comics from Rachel here.

*See what I did there? I've given you name for when your dress up your pet: Clawsplay! Remember me in your will, or at least when the term goes viral.