Radar is one tough doggy detective. Along with his trusty kitty sidekick Matt, Radar is hoping to discover just what happened to all the cats in Kennelton. The two friends are patrolling the town and making progress on the case, but, just when Radar least expects it, Matt disappears right from under his snout! When Radar discovers there’s still one cat left in town, Ms. Clawdette Fluffinstuff, he knows he has to find and protect her from whatever or whoever has catnapped all the felines in town. Along the way, Radar crosses paths with Lil St. Inker, the suspicious skunk. She’s got a police record of her own to explain, and Radar’s wondering if she knows more than she’s letting on. At the end of the day, Radar doesn’t know whether to keep on the trail of the catnapper or hold his nose!
Unfortunately, I was often lost and confused while reading this animal-noir take on a traditional detective story. I like the general idea of the story, but along with confusing panel work, speech bubbles mixed with free text, as well as some punctuation and spelling errors, I wasn’t able to truly invest myself in the tale. The general outline is a good one: a doggy detective searching for missing kitties. Radar has a nice voice and he’s a likeable character, but I felt like the story could have been better with a little more editing and clarification of the story line.
For me, it was the artwork that turned me off of the book as a whole. The book is done in a black, white, and grey color scheme, which, in theory, does make sense, since the author/illustrator was trying to do a film-noir type book. I would have appreciated some color or a different shading approach. The coloring on the front of the book is quite nice and it accentuates the background in addition to the front characters. I wish this coloring had been used throughout the book; it’s not so colorful that it takes away from the noir-type theme the author is going for. The panels were, at times, a little too muddy and certain panels look of unfinished. In particular, a one-page panel looked like the pages you see in graphic novels where the illustrator is showing you the outline or preliminary work he or she was doing on a sketch. Radar narrates most of the book, which shows up as free text, but when other characters share the panel they use speech bubbles, which confused me at times. I didn’t know whether to read his narration first or the conversation between the characters in the panel; there wasn’t a clear road for me to follow. The panels show a combination of original illustration mixed with what I think are photos of buildings and backgrounds. These photos come out as unclear and murky, and, oftentimes, the characters look out of place since the characters are drawn pretty clearly, yet the background is not so clear.
All in all, I think this is a good starting point for a book, but I think both the story and artwork need to be edited and cleaned up. I can see it appealing to readers who like mysteries and stories with anthropomorphized animal characters, but it seems like this book is maybe just a first draft at this time.
Radar: The Scent of a Feline
by Jonathan Rosenbaum
Maja Nation, 2012