As noted in his author’s introduction, the “Ask a Cat” comic strip collected here has gone through several evolutions over the years. It began on the author’s blog and now runs on the popular GoComics website. It features a pointy-eared cat, big-eyed mouse, and the occasional human.

The idea behind the strips is simple: a variety of anonymous questions, many of them from other cats, are sent to Cat and he answers them in his own unique way. Questions include: “What should we do with a drunken sailor?”, “Do you think you’d be a good superhero?”, “Do you like snow?”, and “Have you ever dueled with an underwater creature?” Many of the answers employ familiar jokes about cats; when talking about what kind of food he eats, Cat claims to eat “only the most exquisite of cat foods” and then is shown kicking it across the room, saying “Meh, I’m sick of it already.” A dark-haired woman opens a can of beans and all her cats come running. Others play off the human world. Cat shows his schedule of different houses he visits for food, saying he based it on a human couple, and a woman is shown accusing another of an affair. There are jokes about elections, fake moon landings, coffee shops, Facebook, corporations, and catnip euphoria.

Brubaker’s style develops over the course of this volume, which collects from the comic’s December 2014 debut through 2017. The early cartoons are very loosely sketched, with heavy black borders on the panels and lots of crosshatching and backgrounds. As the collection progresses, the style is refined, with fewer messy lines and more defined shapes. The panel borders lighten, and the dark, crosshatched backgrounds mostly disappear.

This collection of black and white cartoons may be of some interest to collectors or those who enjoy a light-hearted browse, but few libraries will have a place for them. The more adult nature of the some of the jokes, coupled with quickly-outdated references to pop culture and news, make this an ephemeral collection that will quickly be set aside in favor of newer, more substantial titles.

Ask a Cat
by Charles Brubaker
ISBN: 9780998948201
Smallbug Press, 2017

  • Jennifer

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Matheson Memorial Library


    Jennifer Wharton is the Youth Services Librarian at Matheson Memorial Library in Elkhorn, Wisconsin where she maintains the juvenile and young adult graphic novel collections and was responsible for creating the library’s adult graphic novel collection. She is constantly looking for great new comics for kids and teens and new ways to incorporate graphic storytelling in programming. Jennifer blogs for preschool through middle grade at JeanLittleLibrary and has an MLS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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