Author Chesca Hause created the Litterbox Comics webcomic to share her family’s funniest struggles and stories. Because she never liked drawing humans, she portrays herself, her husband, and their two sons as anthropomorphic cats. Fran and Joel are a pair of frazzled but highly adaptable cat parents. Their kittens are Vincent, a six-year-old with major attitude, and Cooper, an adorable three-year-old who often causes trouble by accident.
In this volume, Fran and Joel muddle and flail through—and sometimes triumph over—sibling squabbles, mealtime mishaps, their kids embarrassing them in front of other adults, and more. They tackle it all with humor and manage to find time for each other and for their own interests, like video games. In addition to the relatable parenting challenges, the comics sometimes include nods to the fact that this is a family of cats and their friends are all other anthropomorphic animals. For example, the whole family goes into berserk hunter mode when a fly buzzes through the room, and Fran accidentally yells about the song “Baby Shark” in front of a family of actual sharks.
In this new format, the author includes a new feature: each section of the book begins with two pages that can be flipped back and forth to create the illusion of motion, showing small scenes like Joel tossing Cooper in the air, or the kittens jumping on a bed. Readers of the webcomic will note that the book does not include the bonus panels that often accompany the pages in the online version. However, there is some fun bonus content, like stickers, character bios, notes about the real-life incidents that inspired some of the comics, and a “photo album” of comics at the end.
The art is colorful and features lots of fun visual humor, like the dad jokes on Joel’s t-shirts. Besides the central cat family, the characters include animals from birds to bulls to hyenas, all roughly the same size and all wearing clothes in a variety of styles. They are highly expressive, emoting with not just their faces but tails and other animal-specific features (for example, a chameleon changes color when smelling something gross).
The art also grounds this comic in the current time: readers will notice lots of franchise-specific toys and accessories, including Pokémon, Star Wars, Minecraft, Marvel, and more, as well as Starbucks cups, Capri Sun drink pouches, and Goldfish crackers. Some objects mimic identifiable brands, but with a humorous twist, like chips that come in what is clearly a Doritos bag but are labeled Spicy Triangles.
These comics will probably be most relatable—and most amusing—to parents and other adults who spend a lot of time with children. They are much more parent-focused than some other family-centered comics, and they include the very occasional swear word as well as several humorous instances of the word “penis” (no actual penises appear in the comic). Parents, teachers, and other kid-adjacent adults will likely be familiar with some of the scenarios in this volume, and will laugh at how those scenarios play out for Fran and her family.
Parenting is Weird: Tails from the Litterbox
By Chesca Hause
Andrews McMeel, 2023
NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)