Allison Breaking, intrepid girl reporter (a cliché, but we will accept it for the sake of the originality of the rest of the story), runs a website called Breaking News (puns we never have to forgive, because puns are awesome). To supplement her income, she also ghostwrites memoirs. Her latest client brings her from New York to London with only vague details and mystery.
Upon meeting her client, Burma, she understands the mystery. He is no ordinary man, but a cat. On his ninth life, this talking cat, unique even among cats, wants to record the story of his lives. While interviewing him, Allison sees a pattern, which spans from Ancient Egypt through the World Wars and into the modern era. In every life, Burma tries to take over the world.
While Allison would like to believe that Burma has settled into a more peaceful existence in his final lifetime, events seem to contradict that notion. Going back and forth between past lives and current times, writer Paul Tobin weaves an exciting tale with cat and human minions, sinister plots aplenty, and questionable moral decisions.
Artist Benjamin Dewey shapes this in a very classic comic style. Multiple page panels are framed by gray backgrounds, lending a touch of classic comic tradition to a funkier storyline.
One of the hardest things about I Was The Cat is deciding precisely who the audience is. The publisher categorizes the book as youth. While not chock full of inappropriate content, there is some violence and (mostly veiled) sexual references. Most public libraries should not have a problem with it in the juvenile collection.
The appeal of this book should break fairly even between children who enjoy the talking cat and action-adventure elements of the story, and adults drawn in by the clever quips and traditional comic styling. However, expect teens to skip this one for the most part.
It is not the cleverest or most original book out this year, but the fun twists to a traditional format and storyline will find a readership. For libraries with medium to larger-sized graphic novel collections, this is a solid choice as an addition.
I Was The Cat
by Paul Tobin
Art by Benjamin Dewey
Oni Press, 2014
Publisher Age Rating: Youth