Imagine: You wake up one morning and your cat has evolved into a humanoid feline. Standing on two legs, the cat-human is now asking to borrow your clothes and hang out with you. Worse? Your furry friend is definitely cooler than you. This is the premise of Benji Nate’s Catboy, a cute, thoroughly engaging, fun comic for cat lovers. Originally a comic strip for news media and popular culture site Vice.com, Catboy is a collection of both fan favorites and previously unreleased material.
Olive is a twenty-something art school graduate, floundering in both her personal and professional life. One night, while looking at a shooting star outside her bedroom window, Olive wishes for the ability to hang out with her cat, Henry, “like a person”. The next morning Henry, now human-sized, is spread across Olive’s pillow. From there we follow Olive and Henry’s escapades as interspecies best friends.
Without a doubt, Catboy is whimsical fun. Nate’s artwork is clear, vibrant, and aesthetically appealing. Adorned in fictitious brand Cool Boy clothing, Olive and Henry are the peak of millennial coolness. Nate uses a harmonious color palette filled with reds, pinks, yellows, and oranges throughout all her artwork in this collection. The bold color choices in this collection create visually cohesive storytelling. Additionally, individual comic strips are consistently entertaining, a feat for any comic artist. Though I do have several favorites, notably one in which the duo attends a lavish house party, each comic strip is of high quality. There is no filler here.
The writing in this collection is both particularly strong and accessible. Henry’s aloof, playful demeanor perfectly contradicts Olive’s perpetual anxiety. Olive struggles to find a career in the arts, please her parents, and make friends. Yet, Henry, despite all of his obnoxious tendencies (which will be ever-familiar to cat owners) is always by her side. They are a great pair and, best yet, Henry’s existence is almost never questioned. He is thoroughly accepted as the cat-human that he is.
Though Catboy is intended for adults, as kids may miss more of the nuance within the writing, there is certainly a place in your juvenile and/or young adult section for this book. Kids that have aged out of Luke Pearson’s Hilda series will get a kick out of this. Olive is likeable and honest, Henry is her safety net, and their wholly supportive friendship is a great example for any reader. In this wholesome vein, Catboy will most likely appeal to those familiar with Sarah’s Scribbles by Sarah Andersen and Nathan Pyle’s Strange Planet. As a lesser known comic strip, Catboy may require a little more advertising and reference promotion, but it is certainly worth the promotional effort. Quirky, thoughtful, and charming, Catboy is a great addition to any library collection.
By Benji Nate
Art by Benji Nate
Silver Sprocket, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: (18+)
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NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16), Older Teen (16-18), Adult (18+)
Creator Highlights: BIPOC Creator