Yesterday our cat Nettie Netzach gave us a huge scare.
I’m working from home, so Michele went out early in the morning to pick up groceries. She always goes early because too many people are walking around without masks & gloves, so the earlier in the day she goes the less likely she is to run into a lot of people. Michele ended up getting a lot of stuff so she would not have to go back out again for a while, and she called me to meet her halfway to help carry the bags. When we got home we were spraying & wiping everything down with Lysol outside in the hallway, then bringing it into the apartment, so we went in & out several times.
About an hour later, around noon, we realized that Nettie wasn’t around. The last time I saw her was before I went out to help Michele with the groceries. We started shaking the treat bags. Jet Alister, our other cat, came bounding out, but there was no sign of Nettie. We started looking for her. We turned the place upside down trying to find her. Still no Nettie.
Michele and I started to worry that with all of our going in & out of the apartment, somehow Nettie had managed to slip out, and was now lost outside. I went outside looking for Nettie, calling her name, shaking a bag of treats. No luck. Then Michele went out to look. She couldn’t find Nettie. I went out again, walking up & down the nearby streets, peering under cars, asking everyone I met if they had seen a white cat. No one had.
By now we were on the verge of panic. Nettie was microchipped, so Michele called the vet to report her missing. I left a voicemail for our friend Diana, who feeds the stray cats in the neighborhood, asking for her to keep an eye out for Nettie.
And then, around 4:30 in the afternoon, Nettie just casually poked her head out from under our couch.
To say that Michele and I were relieved would be an understatement. I grabbed Nettie and starting hugging her, crying tears of relief. Michele sternly told her “Do you know how much trouble you’ve caused us?!?”
Nettie of course reacted to all this by becoming very annoyed and indignant, giving us a low growl and a scowling look. Oh, wow, what a spoiled, bratty cat!
Michele and I later figured out that Nettie must have clawed a hole in the bottom of the couch and crawled inside. So every time we pulled it away from the wall to check under and behind it we didn’t see her because she was actually inside the sofa.
Michele called the vet back to tell them we found Nettie. The vet informed us that this sort of thing happens with cats often when they are stressed out, and sensing stress from their humans. Between having to adjust to Jet Alister, who has only been with us for five months, and having us at home all the time stressed out about the Coronavirus crisis, Nettie must have decided to find somewhere quiet & isolated for a few hours to be by herself.
I took the above photo of Nettie about half an hour after she reappeared. As you can see, she’s giving me a sort of defiant, moody expression, as if to say “Why are you still bothering me?”
Anyway, thankfully it all worked out in the end. We definitely need to keep a closer eye on Nettie, though. She can be a real sneak when she wants to be.
Ten years ago, in early June 2009, a friend (now ex-friend) of Michele who had too many pets asked us to take in one of his cats. This cat, a black & white domestic shorthair named Kitten, was getting beat up by the other cats. This person told us that if we were not able to take in Kitten, he would have to drop her off at a shelter. We had only just adopted another cat, Nettie Netzach, a few months before, and we weren’t sure how she would react. However, Michele really did not want Kitten, who she remembered from visits to this person’s apartment, being abandoned at a shelter, so we took her in.
Kitten was incredibly shy. She often hid in the closet. Michele had to sit with her and talk with her gently while she ate. When she was finally able to get close enough, Michele discovered that Kitten’s mouth was in really bad shape. We immediately took her to the vet, who found that half of her teeth were rotten & infected.
We had Kitten’s bad teeth pulled. When we took her home from the vet, Nettie watched over her, helping to nurse her back to health. She quickly made a full recovery. Before our eyes, Kitten became a brand new cat, full of energy and love.
By the way, “Kitten” is a terrible name for an adult cat. We had been told that she was between six and eight years old, but for all we know she might have been older. Calling her “Kitten” was lazy and unimaginative. Michele decided she needed a proper name. When this cat meowed it often sounded like a squeak, so we decided to call her Squeaky.
Oh yes… now it can be told. The OTHER inspiration for Michele naming the cat Squeaky was infamous Manson Family member Lynette Alice “Squeaky” Fromme. Yeah, sometimes Michele has a bizarre sense of humor. Honestly, I was appalled, but the cat really appeared to take to the name, so Squeaky it was. All these years I’ve always told people the “squeaky” meows was the inspiration for her name, but, yes, I’ll just go ahead and admit to it now, “Squeaky” Fromme was the second one.
In any case, for the past decade Squeaky has lived with us. She was an awesome cat. As I said before, she was incredibly affectionate. She loved being petted and having her tummy rubbed. Most nights she would sleep on the bed between me and Michele, purring contentedly. We would call this a Squeaky Sandwich.
Squeaky also loved to eat. She had been incredibly thin when we took her in, basically starving, so she was always obsessed with food. Michele thought Squeaky suffered from food panic. She would gulp down all of her cat food, would then try to steal Nettie’s food, and would often try to take food from our plates. Squeaky had big, round, greenish eyes, and she would stare at us longingly with them, pleading for food. She eventually because a very round & heavy cat, but she was happy, so usually we just let her eat as much as she wanted.
Squeaky was something of a quirky, misfit cat, but that just meant that she fit right in with us. She was a constant presence in our lives. She would often follow us around the apartment, meowing loudly. Often she would grab Michele’s pens & pencils & paintbrushes in her mouth and hide them all over the apartment, under the bed or chairs or rug.
Like most cats, Squeaky loved cardboard boxes. There was one cardboard box in particular, that a pair of Michele’s shoes had been shipped in, that Squeaky often contentedly occupied.
Squeaky also liked sitting with us when we watched television. Michele referred to Squeaky as my TV buddy. Other times Michele would play music, and Squeaky would sit next to the speakers, listening and purring. Squeaky seemed to especially enjoy music by the group Joy Division.
Squeaky and Nettie usually got along. They became like sisters. Occasionally they would get on each other’s nerves or fight, but most of the time they had a good relationship. Sometimes they would cuddle together, or would groom each other. If they realized we were looking at them they would then get embarrassed and quickly dart away from each other.
A little over two years ago we had to move to a new apartment. Nettie had grown up and spent almost all her life in the old apartment, and she was very upset & scared in the new place. I guess by now Squeaky had gotten more used to change. She adjusted to the new surroundings very quickly, and for the first couple of weeks was often by Nettie’s side, trying to comfort her. Eventually Nettie began to feel at home, and the two of them fell back into their old routine.
Last winter Squeaky had a cold, and over the past few months we noticed that she was beginning to lose weight. Then last month she appeared to age overnight. As I said before, we didn’t know exactly how old she was. At a minimum she was 16 years old, and was very likely closer to 19 or 20.
Over the past few weeks Squeaky was having more difficulty eating. We had to get her cat food that was in pate form; anything else she was unable to chew & swallow. Most of the time Squeaky sat on the windowsill, looking out at the backyard. We realized that she probably only had a short amount of time left.
We always celebrated Squeaky’s birthday on June 12th, the day we took her in. Every year we would throw a “birthday / adoption day” party for her, giving her gourmet cat food and singing happy birthday to her. This June 12th was Squeaky’s 10th “birthday” with us, and we brought her food to her at the window, and sang to her. She ate some of if, and seemed happy.
Four days later, on Sunday afternoon, Squeaky stopped eating. She wobbled into the living room, collapsed, and began to have uncontrollable spasms. Michele and I both realized this was it. We had really hoped that Squeaky was going to pass away peacefully in her sleep at home, but now that was not going to be. Reluctantly we picked her up, placed her in her pet carrier, and took her to the veterinary office, the same place that a decade earlier had operated on Squeaky to remove her bad teeth.
The vet examined Squeaky, and told us her condition was critical. They could try treating her, but at most she would only last a few more weeks, and would probably be in pain the whole time. Reluctantly we made the decision to give her a quick, peaceful death. We were there with Squeaky when she passed away.
A few months ago Michele began working on a comic book about Squeaky. She finally finished it in early June and published it. “The Temptation of Squeaky” by Michele Witchipoo features Squeaky meeting the demon Maximus, who offers her all the turkey she can eat. It’s a very cute, adorable, funny story. I’m happy that our quirky cat has been immortalized in print.
Captain Ginger, the four issue comic book from new publisher Ahoy Comics, combines two of my loves, cats and science fiction. The miniseries is written by Stuart Moore, drawn by June Brigman & Roy Richardson, colored by Veronica Gandini, and lettered by Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt.
Moore and Brigman had been posting preview images for Captain Ginger on Facebook for over a year before the first issue finally came out, so I was definitely looking forward to it. Certainly it lived up to my expectations.
Captain Ginger is set in the far distant future. The human race has apparently been completely wiped out by a mysterious, aggressive alien race known as the Lumen. One of humanity’s last acts before becoming extinct was to genetically engineer a group of cats to human levels of intelligence. These cats, only a few decades removed from their abrupt artificial evolution, are now fleeing from the Lumen aboard an old, broken-down spaceship, struggling to understand the failing human technology and to reconcile their natural instincts with their newly-enhanced intellects.
Leading this motley group of cosmo-cats is Captain Ginger. As many a human has observed over the centuries, it’s impossible to herd cats, and Ginger finds this out first-hand as he endeavors to save this fiercely-individualistic colony of felines from extinction. Plus, y’know, there’s that whole terrifying “cats now having to scoop out their own litter boxes” thing to deal with! 🙀
Among the crew of the Starship Hiss-Bite-Claw-Sometimes-Fall is the gruff Sergeant Mittens, a one-eyed ship’s gunner, and Ginger’s rival for leadership. Also present is the engineer Ranscoop and her litter of kittens, the hairless Science Cat, the warrior Deena, and the aloof Ecru, the only cat who seems to understand the ship’s mysterious artificial intelligence.
Moore does a fine job developing the personalities of these various cats, and their relationships with one another. He also devises an enthralling story. Captain Ginger was a fun, exciting, humorous miniseries.
I thought that Captain Ginger was actually going to be five issues, so when I got to the end of #3, and the letter column announced the next issue would be the conclusion of the “first season,” I found myself wondering how the heck Moore was going to wrap up this storyline so quickly.
The conclusion in issue #4 involves something of a deus ex machina, or perhaps more precisely a fēlēs ex machina. What saves this from being a left-field plot device is that Moore did lay the groundwork for it in the previous three issues, it only solves some of the cats’ problems (and only in the short term) and they end up feeling ambivalent about the whole thing.
In addition, Moore sets up a plotline that leads into the next Captain Ginger miniseries, which is planned to be six issues long. Hopefully that longer length will enable him to develop both the characters and the storylines more fully. I’m certainly looking forward to it.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have been a fan of Brigman’s artwork since I was a kid in the mid 1980s, when she was the penciler on Power Pack. Brigman and her husband Richardson make a great art team, and I am happy to see them collaborating again.
Brigman & Richardson’s artwork for Captain Ginger is wonderful. It’s a very effective balance of serious and cute, of danger and comedy. Brigman’s storytelling is superb, and Richardson does an excellent job inking her work. They do a great job of drawing the various characters, of giving them each a distinctive personality.
It’s not at all surprising that Brigman & Richardson create such engaging artwork. After all, both of them love cats. As of this writing, they share their house with ten cats. As the short interview with Brigman in issue #1 reveals, the characters of Ginger and Mittens are actually based on two cats that she and her husband adopted when they first moved to Atlanta. So, yes, they love cats, and it shows in the artwork.
Captain Ginger has several back-up features, including behind-the-scenes pieces, short text stories, and a very odd “Hashtag: Danger” three part serial by Tom Peyer, Randy Elliot, Andy Troy & Rob Steen. So you definitely get very good value for your dollar with this series.
My own two cats Nettie and Squeaky certainly enjoyed Captain Ginger, as you can see from the above photo. They loved curling up to read it… or maybe just curling up on top of it.
I’m looking forward to the follow-up miniseries by Moore, Brigman & Richardson. Hopefully it will be out soon. In the meantime, if you have not yet already gotten this first mini, it’s definitely worth looking for the issues. Alternately, they’re available digitally from Comixology. A trade paperback is scheduled for release in June. Also keep an eye out for Ahoy Comics’ contribution to Free Comic Book Day 2019, the Dragonfly and Dragonflyman special, which will contain a Captain Ginger back-up story.
You will have to excuse me now. Nettie and Squeaky want to be fed and, well, you don’t want to keep cats waiting, do you? 😺
Happy Halloween from the Hero Cats of Stellar City!
I have continued to enjoy the ongoing Hero Cats comic book series written by Kyle Puttkammer and published by Action Lab Entertainment. The latest four issues have been a lot of fun, as our team of crime-fighting kitties have traveled the world, and then arrived back home in Stellar City for a spooktacular Halloween.
Hero Cats #10-12 features the three part “World Tour.” Puttkammer is joined by new series penciler Omaka Schultz, with inks by Ryan Sellers & Brandon Page. When I first read #10, for a moment there I actually thought I had missed an issue. Puttkammer opens the story in media res, with the Hero Cats aloft in a hot air balloon, accompanied by a little girl dressed as a princess. By page two the balloon has crashed in the middle of the desert, near the town of Coyote Canyon.
I’m actually still trying to decide if the Hero Cats were somehow transported not just to the American Southwest but also back in time. Modern technology is completely missing from Coyote Canyon, and soon after the train out of town is waylaid by armed bandits. Well, whether the year is 2016 or 1880, we are treated to an exciting throw-down between the cats and the gang of dastardly desperadoes.
Although heading back to Stellar City, it is apparent that after returning the little princess home the cats somehow got detoured, as #11 opens in the aftermath of an airplane crash on an island off the coast of Africa. The cats encounter the warrior Malo who possesses the ability to talk to animals, and they join forces to combat a mystical menace that is seizing control of the island’s inhabitants.
The cats’ next stop on their way home is the Far East. They arrive in what appears to be Medieval Japan (more time travel?) where they assist a local feline heroine in rescuing a mystical cat who has been kidnapped by ninjas. I’m not sure where the Giant Panda who’s hanging around the neighborhood came from; perhaps like the cats he’s another lost tourist?
In these three issues Puttkammer continues to develop the personalities of and relationships between the various cats. He does a good job at making this truly an all-ages book. Young kids will enjoy the fun adventures of the cute cats, and for older readers there’s are interesting characters & story arcs.
Schultz is a fine addition to the series. He effortlessly juggles the cartoony elements and the highly-detailed real-world settings.
With the Hero Cats finally making their way back to Stellar City, issue #13 detours into what I would classify as a “What If” or “Elseworlds” type of reality. We are introduced to a world much like the one seen in the previous dozen issues, only with several darker, supernatural twists to it. Our feline cast is still present, but different. For instance, Belle is an evil witch, Midnight is a vampire, and Rocco is a giant monster. As for poor Ace, faced with a world overrun by zombies, he is the Last Cat on Earth. I guess you could say that Ace is all alone against an onslaught of the Purring Dead.
“Hero Cats of the Apocalypse” is drawn by the art team of Sey Viani & Sarah Elkins. As with previous artists, they do a fine job handling the diverse tone of the book, drawing a story that is both cute and macabre.
While I did initially wish that Puttkammer had written a Halloween story set in the “real” world of the Hero Cats, it later occurred to me that perhaps this could serve as a prologue for a future story. We’ve previously seen the Hero Cats fight against villains from other dimensions. So the possibility exists that at some point “our” Hero Cats might cross over into this other world where everything has gone terribly wrong and encounter their dark counterparts. You never know.
In any case, it was a bit of a treat to see Belle as a witch. Belle looks a lot like one of my cats, Nettie, a doll-face Himalayan. Belle has slightly darker fur and brown seal-point coloring instead of grey, but other than that she looks a lot like Nettie. My girlfriend Michele has always wanted to dress up Nettie for Halloween, but Nettie refuses to let us put any sort of costume on her. One of Michele’s ideas was to give Nettie a witch hat. At least now, courtesy of Belle in Hero Cats #13, I have an idea of how Nettie might look wearing one 🙂
One last note… after missing him at the last two New York Comic Cons, this year I finally got to meet Kyle Puttkammer. I got a couple of issues of Hero Cats autographed, and had an opportunity to see previews of a few upcoming issues. I’m definitely looking forward to them.
As a proud and loyal citizen of America, I have spent the last several months aghast at the train wreck that is the campaign for the 2016 election for President of the United States. It has been both embarrassing and more than a bit terrifying watching a succession of fools and crooks attempting to out-pander each other in pursuit of the office of the Presidency. The possibility that one of these clowns might very well be elected to the White House is genuinely unsettling.
Therefore, I am proud to present an alternative to these opportunistic fear-mongers, a candidate who possesses strength, wisdom, courage, humility, and bravery in abundance… my cat, Squeaky Squeakums.
In a year when nearly every candidate on two legs appears to embody the very worst aspects of humanity, let us look to another species entirely, namely Felis catus, the domestic cat. Squeaky Squeakums is a wonderful representative of this proud and sage breed. Yes, she sleeps for an average of 15 hours a day, but during her time awake she is a coiled spring, ready to leap upon intruding mice. So, too, will she pounce at the first sign of trouble to this great nation, to threats both foreign and domestic. If elected, she vows to serve all species, be they human, cat, or other animals. Yes, including dogs.
Squeaky is no pampered house cat. Born in Salem, MA, young Squeaky was sadly abandoned by her first human on a trip to New York City. She spent several years living in an overcrowded apartment in the Bronx, competing with seven other cats, two dogs, and a variety of lizards and birds for space & food. Seven years ago my girlfriend Michele and I rescued Squeaky and brought her into our home, where we have showered her with love & affection. But she has not forgotten her humble beginnings. She possesses a great deal of empathy & understanding for all Americans who struggle to make ends meet.
Squeaky also required extensive veterinary care when we first took her in. That experience has convinced her of the crucial roles that health insurance and affordable medical services must play in our society.
But do not let Squeaky’s compassionate side fool you. She also possesses nerves of steel and a fierce determination. She will stare down any opponents who seek to take advantage of her good nature.
There have been some questions raised as to Squeaky’s eligibility to run for President. Let me assure you that these are unfounded. Certain people have asked if she is at least 35 years old, as specified by the Constitution. Squeaky is 13 cat years old, which as per the experts at Purina is 68 in human years, definitely making her qualified. She is also most certainly a natural born citizen, and if requested we will release her long form birth certificate for review.
Perhaps you are asking yourself “How could a cat possible gain the support necessary to be elected President?” I can understand your skepticism. However, Squeaky has already gained a large and enthusiastic group of supporters, Americans male and female who span all ages, races, religions and cultural backgrounds. All of her campaign appearances have been attended by large crowds of voters who are eager to hear her message. In fact, here is a photo of Squeaky being greeted by her numerous supporters at her last campaign rally…
If you are dissatisfied with the direction this country has taken, and if you believe that this nation deserves better leadership than it has had in many decades, then pledge your support for Squeaky Squeakums. You can find out more about Squeaky and her message for America on her official Facebook page, Squeaky Squeakums for U.S. President.
Vote for pussy – We’ll all be happy.
This blog post has been brought to you by the Squeaky Squeakums 2016 Super PAC (Pet and Animal Committee).
The Hero Cats comic book series from Action Lab Entertainment continues to be an enjoyable read. I previously reviewed the first two issues, so now let’s take a look at #s 3-5.
Cassiopeia, the newest member of the Hero Cats team, has been serving as the gateway character, the readers’ introduction to the rest of the book’s cast, both feline and human. In issue #3 we see her official basic training, as the rest of the kitty commandos put her through the paces to see if she has what it takes to battle evil and protect the innocent.
Kyle Puttkammer’s script for this issue is both funny and moving. He does a good job showing the novice Cassiopeia overcoming her doubts & inexperience to be accepted by the team. Puttkammer also examines the motivations of Hero Cat leader Ace, and shows the developing bond between him and Cassiopeia. The story is very thoughtful, sentimental and laugh-out-loud funny.
In issue #4 the Hero Cats explore a subterranean mystery beneath Stellar City. They discover a civilization of trolls and help them fight off invading rock monsters. Puttkammer uses the story to delve into the background of Belle, the long-haired telepathic member of the team.
In prior issues of Hero Cats readers were told of how Cassiopeia’s humans, Stanley Quest and his daughter Suzie, were secretly the costumed crime-fighters Galaxy Man and Cosmic Girl. Cassiopeia and the rest of her team finally discover this in issue #5. The cynical Midnight and Belle are both automatically suspicious, observing that all of the bizarre menaces that have been plaguing Stellar City only began to show up after Galaxy Man first made his debut. Cassiopeia, of course, thinks they are being ridiculous.
Actually, though, Cassiopeia’s two teammates might just be on to something. During his latest journey into outer space to search for his missing astronaut wife Amelia, Galaxy Man unwittingly brings back to Earth a swarm of ravenous space bugs. Fortunately it turns out they are allergic to peanut butter. Cassiopeia, Rocco and Rocket all team up with Cosmic Girl, who has, amazingly enough, still managed to keep her identity a secret from her father.
Puttkammer’s writing on these three issues is great. As I have observed before, he is one of those writers whose stories can be appreciated on different levels. Younger readers will enjoy the cute cats and their funny adventures. Adults will appreciate the development of the felines’ different personalities. Puttkammer does a good job scripting the Hero Cats’ interactions as they work to apply their often-clashing world views and philosophies to solving the crises facing them.
I certainly had to chuckle at the various scenes in these issues of Cassiopeia trying to talk to her humans. We the readers obviously understand her dialogue, but to the people in the story it just sounds like “Meow meow meow!” I expect anyone who has ever had a cat can identify with that. Cats can be very expressive, and they often appear to be attempting to communicate with us. You just know when a cat is telling you something, even if you may not know precisely what it is.
I really enjoy the work by penciler Marcus Williams and inker Ryan Sellers. Their art is cute and expressive, possessing a real dynamic quality. Williams & Sellers invest their characters with genuine emotion. They are great at rendering both dramatic action sequences and quieter scenes featuring Puttkammer’s passages of dialogue.
Tracy Yardley once again illustrates the Galaxy Man & Cosmic Girl two page back-up stories in Hero Cats, as well as penciling the cover to issue #6. It was interesting to see his interpretations of the various cats on that. Yardley has a somewhat different style from Williams, but he is definitely a good fit for this series. I hope he will continue to contribute to Hero Cats.
Once again, I recommend this series. Back issues can be ordered through the Hero Cats website. There is also a trade paperback out collecting the first three issues.
Y’know, while I’ve been typing up this review, one of my two cats, Squeaky, has been sitting next to the desk. I think she wants me to pay less attention to fictional felines and spend more time with her. Looks like it’s time for treats and tummy rubs!
Our cat Squeaky is definitely one of a kind. I’ve blogged about Squeaky before. Michele and I took her in when her previous human abruptly decided that he had too many cats. Since Squeaky wasn’t getting along with the others he wanted to drop her off at a shelter. That probably would have literally been the death of her. Squeaky is extremely shy and sensitive, plus she had health problems at the time, so she would probably have been put to sleep.
Michele told me that in her former home all the other cats beat Squeaky up whenever she tried to come out to eat, and so she was often hiding behind a radiator. She was even too scared to use the litter box, and so she scratched out a hole in the back of a sofa and used that instead. In the five and a half years since we adopted Squeaky she has definitely come out of her shell, though. She was incredibly frightened when we took her in, but now she is more at ease. She was incredibly skinny and unhealthy, but now she is round and healthy. Squeaky seems happy.
That said, she is a quirky cat. Even after being with us for all this time she is still very jittery. Loud noises cause her to run & hide, her tail completely fluffed up. Squeaky still doesn’t like tall men standing near her. I am 6 feet 2 inches, and when she sees me walking towards her she runs away. She has no problem with me when I am sitting down or lying in bed. Actually she is very affectionate at these times, and she loves for me to pet her or brush her fur. But the instant I stand up she bolts. Michele believes that Squeaky is still traumatized from whatever craziness went on where she used to live. I think that there must have been a lot of noise & chaos there.
Squeaky sometimes reminds me of the cat Mooch from the comic strip Mutts by Patrick McDonnell. Like Mooch, Squeaky is a rather idiosyncratic cat who loves to eat. Reading the strip in the newspaper often brings to mind our own black & white kitty cat. That’s especially the case when McDonnell does a strip about Mooch’s love of food.
It must have been because she was starving for all of those years before we adopted her, but Squeaky is obsessed with food. We normally feed her at 7:00 in the morning. Well, starting around 5:00 AM she starts meowing incessantly. She’ll jump on the bed and scratch up the furniture. She wants food immediately, and she doesn’t want to wait. When we finally open a can of wet food and feed her, she dives right in. Nettie also eats at this time, but she likes to pace herself. She’s a small cat, and has a tiny tummy. So she’ll have several bites and walk away for a while. Unfortunately Squeaky will then try to eat out of Nettie’s bowl, and we have to put it on top of the refrigerator until Nettie is ready to eat again.
Around 10:00 AM Squeaky starts meowing for dry food. We’ll usually give her and Nettie some an hour later. She’ll devour that right away. Dinner time for the cats, when they get the rest of the canned food, is at 3:00 PM. Well, come 1:00 in the afternoon Squeaky will start meowing sadly, pretty much non-stop, circling about in a worried manner. She really seems to be convinced she isn’t going to get fed.
Of course, every time Michele and I have something to eat, Squeaky must inspect it to see if it’s something she would like. If it is, she’ll either give us a wide-eyed pleading expression, or she’ll simply try to snatch some of our food with her paw or mouth. She is incredibly persistent.
This all inspired Michele to draw a cute, funny illustration entitled “Squeaky Loves To Eat.”
Poor Squeaky. She can get very stressed out sometimes. This just goes to show that animals can be very much like people. If an animal experiences trauma when it is young, that can affect them for the rest of their life. I definitely think that happened to Squeaky. She still appears to be coping with some of the stuff she went though before we adopted her. She seems like a very sensitive soul.
Sometimes I will explain Squeaky’s story to people as a cautionary tale, to demonstrate that it is very important for us humans to treat our four-legged friends with kindness.
Having said all this, I do believe Squeaky is now much happier. She has food and two humans who love her. She eventually got used to Nettie trying to play with her, and the two cats are now close. Squeaky also gets to play, something she never could in the past. Occasionally she will play-fight with her toy mousies. But much more often she will grab one of Michele’s pencils, pens or markers in her teeth, carry it off while yowling, and then wrestle with it, chasing it about the apartment as it rolls all over the place. A good chunk of Michele’s art supplies go missing in this manner. We often find pens under the bed, or buried in the blankets, or hidden under the rug, or in the laundry pile.
I am glad that Michele and I were able to give Squeaky a much better home than she once had. She is a very affectionate cat. Despite her sometimes-unconventional behavior, Squeaky really does brighten up our lives, and we love her.
Michele and I like to joke that our cat Nettie Netzach is secretly a superhero, that when we aren’t around that she moonlights as the dynamic Netzach Wondercat. So when I found out that there was an actual comic book series about crime-fighting felines, Hero Cats, of course I had to pick it up.
I actually learned about Hero Cats back around this year’s New York Comic Con. I wasn’t able to go to the convention, but Jim Hanley’s Universe was having a signing event to tie in with it. One of the guests was Marcus Williams, penciler of Hero Cats. I looked at his work on Facebook, and thought it was fantastic. Unfortunately I ended up not being able to go to the JHU signing either, due to a last-minute emergency. But shortly afterwards I found the first two issues of Hero Cats for sale at Forbidden Planet and Midtown Comics.
Hero Cats is released by Action Lab Entertainment, the publisher of many fine comic books, including Molly Danger by Jamal Igle. Hero Cats is written by Kyle Puttkammer, penciled by Marcus Williams, and inked by Ryan Sellers. It is a fun, adorable, exciting series about six cats who have joined forces to protect the human population of Stellar City.
In the first issue, we are introduced to this group of brave felines by Cassiopeia, an orange tabby. Growing up a stray alongside her brother Bandit, a black & white kitty, Cassiopeia was a literate feline who would read the books & magazines sold at the newsstand above which the two of them lived. One day Cassiopeia spotted a signing by Lillian C. Clark, her favorite author, at the book store across the street. Waiting outside for a chance to meet her, Cassiopeia was adopted by Lillian, and the two become very close.
Lillian’s niece Amelia was an astronaut, and her spaceship became lost on a mission to study a comet striking Mars. Lillian knew how upset Amelia’s astronomer husband Stanley and their daughter Suzie both were. Realizing that Cassiopeia would be of great comfort to Stanley and Suzie, she gave her cat to them, pretending that with her book signing schedule that she could no longer care for her.
Around this time humans in Stellar City started manifesting super-powers. Some, naturally enough, became criminals. Cassiopeia decided to fight against these villains, joining up with five other cats: Midnight, Belle, Rocket, Rocco and Ace.
Unknown to Cassiopeia, her humans have also gained powers, and have both adopted costumed identities to fight crime. Stanley is Galaxy Man and Suzie is Cosmic Girl. In short epilogues illustrated by Tracy Yardley we get to view the events of each issue from their point of view.
Puttkammer invests each of the six crime-fighting kitties with distinct personalities and perspectives. The artwork by Williams & Sellers very much brings this band of brave felines to life. Through the combination of script and art these cats are each unique individuals, with their own charming quirks.
Having introduced the cast of cats in the first issue, Puttkammer takes to time to explore their personalities, and examine how they interact with one another. Belle and Ace are arguing about whether or not it was a good idea to allow Cassiopeia to join the team so soon. Belle believes that Cassiopeia is untrained and should not be fighting alongside them. Ace says he has full confidence in Cassiopeia. Belle responds that she believes Ace’s feelings for Cassiopeia are affecting his judgment. The two of them also end up debating the merits of human crime-fighters such as Galaxy Man and Cosmic Girl, as well as discussing the latest threat to Stellar City: an irresponsible teenager known as Johnny Arcado who is bringing video game monsters to life.
The entire team gathers, and they set out to stop Johnny Arcado, who lives in the house next door to Belle’s human. Soon enough the cats are fighting Johnny’s computerized creations. Cassiopeia proves herself to the team when her ability to read enables her to instruct Ace on how to operate Johnny’s alien-augmented arcade machine. Ace uses it to create a giant robot to crush the monsters. Meanwhile in the epilogue we see Galaxy Man and Cosmic Girl dealing directly with Johnny Arcado himself, all of them unaware of the crucial role Cassiopeia and her four-legged friends played in thwarting the threat to Stellar City.
If you like both cats and comic books then Hero Cats is highly recommended. Puttkammer is a writer who is successful at crafting stories that are genuinely all-ages. His scripts are genuinely fun, as well as intelligently written so that they do not talk down to younger readers, with a level of sophistication that will appeal to adults. The artwork by Williams & Sellers is both cute and dynamic. The cast of cats are all so wonderfully expressive.
According to the official Hero Cats website, issue #3 is currently available. I’m definitely looking forward to picking it up. You can order copies of all three issues through the website, along with plenty of other cool goodies, including issues of the Galaxy Man series and some cool t-shirts.
It feels like I’ve been missing out on quite a bit lately: the 2014 New York Comic Con, the big Doctor Who convention that was held on Long Island last weekend, even my upcoming 20th high school reunion. I’ve been short on funds so I wasn’t able to purchase tickets to any of those.
I finally decided to splurge a little though and pick up an early holiday present for myself. Last week I received an e-mail update from Scott Kress of Catskill Comics Original & Commission Art. I’ve bought a few things through Scott in the past and always found him easy to do business with. It’s been a while since I’ve purchased anything though because of that aforementioned shortage in cash flow. But I’m still on the mailing list for new artwork and special sales.
The latest e-mail update mentioned out that most of the artists were having a pre-Christmas sale between November 4th and 30th with 10% and 30% off original art. Even though I figured I wouldn’t be able to afford anything I figured I’d browse around anyway just to see what was available.
One of the artists represented by Catskill Comics is Ramona Fradon. I’ve been a huge fan of Fradon’s work for many years. She was one of the first female creators to work in the comic book biz, first working for DC Comics in 1952. During her lengthy career she illustrated the Aquaman feature in Adventure Comics, co-created Metamorpho the Element Man with writer Bob Haney, worked on series such as Super Friends, Plastic Man and House of Mystery, was the artist on the Brenda Starr newspaper strip from 1980 to 1995, and even did a few jobs for Marvel.
I was looking through the art by Fradon for sale at Catskill Comics, and of course I ended up finding a piece that I loved. I just couldn’t resist. So I purchased this lovely pencil illustration of Catwoman and one of her furry friends:
I really like this one a lot. Catwoman is simply beautiful. That cute kitty reminds me a bit of my cat Squeaky, as well as being reminiscent of Sebastian from Josie and the Pussycats.
Offhand I don’t recall if Ramona Fradon ever drew any stories for DC Comics featuring Catwoman. But if you look through her artwork at Catskill Comics you will see that she’s previously created quite a few wonderful commission pieces featuring the feline femme fatale.
Something I have observed as a long-time comic book fan is that it is often it is women artists who draw the most beautiful, sexy females. Yes of course there are a number of talented male artists with a fine mastery of the female form. But there are even more who draw women that have such impossibly unrealistic body shapes, with giant breasts, tiny waists and thrusting rear ends.
I think that the main reason why women artists draw female characters so well is because as females themselves they know first-hand how the female form works, how gravity affects a lady’s assets, how a woman looks when she is in motion. Perhaps female artists are also likely to have more of a sensitivity for wanting to render women who have a certain presence and dignity about them rather than drawing them as figures of sexual objectification. Instead female artists may be more interested in investing their characters with personality.
I really feel that all of this applies to Fradon. Throughout her lengthy career she has done wonderful work drawing female characters such as Saphire Stagg, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Godiva, Mera, Supergirl, Phantom Lady, Brenda Starr and Thundra. Her women are beautiful, but they also possess this appealing, glamorous quality.
At 88 years old, Ramona Fradon is still going strong, illustrating numerous wonderful commission pieces. Definitely take a look through her wonderful work on display at the Catskill Comics website.
This past February on Kickstarter there was a fundraising campaign that I happily supported. Ever since then I have been eagerly anticipating the project that was in the works. Yesterday the completed book finally arrived in the mail: The Collected Counter Attack! by Alisa Harris.
Alisa Harris is a Queens-based artist & cartoonist. Michele and I first met her in May 2011 at the Mini Zine Fest held at Pete’s Candy Store, a bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Among the mini-comics that Harris had for sale was Counter Attack, a cute series about her two mischievous cats, Moe and Fidget, that she has been creating since 2005. Michele and I have two cats of our own, Nettie and Squeaky, and in the last few years I have become a huge cat lover. I purchased Counter Attack from Harris, and I found it adorable. (The series is so titled because, as Harris explains “Any cat will tell you: the best position of attack is from the kitchen counter.”)
Harris does a fantastic job investing the illustrated versions of Moe and Fidget with the personalities they posses in real life. Anyone who has ever had a cat can tell you that felines have very distinctive temperaments. They can be funny and adorable and mischievous and bossy, often all within the space of a few minutes! Harris’ ability to capture those qualities, as well as her charming art style, made Counter Attack a big success. The comics kept selling out and she kept having to re-print them. That’s when she came up with the idea for a Kickstarter campaign to fund a collected edition of Counter Attack, with brand new material included.
Personally speaking, I believe that mini-comics are a real fount of creativity. There are many very cool self-published comics out there from numerous talented creators. That said, I never know how to store or organize them! So, yeah, since I kept re-reading my copies of Counter Attack, and I also kept misplacing them in my jumbled, disorganized piles of books and comics, a hardcover collection was something that appealed to me.
As a cat owner (or perhaps that should be a human who is owned by cats?) I have a lot of identification with the anecdotes and misadventures of Moe and Fidget that Harris illustrates. I am certain that many humans with feline friends will also find these episodes vary familiar. After all, what human with a cat has not been woken up at the crack of dawn (or earlier) by a cat who wants their breakfast? Evidently in Harris’ household, her cat Moe likes to tap her on the head. In my own case, Nettie will lean over my sleeping face and start poking me in the nose with one of her paws. If that doesn’t work, and I still refuse to get up, on occasion she will extend one claw and begin prodding the tip of my nose with that, which inevitably works. Yeah, sometimes Nettie can certainly be bratty!
Cats also like to sharpen their claws. I understand that this is a natural habit they engage in. That’s why most people purchase a scratching post for their cats, so that their personal property will not get shredded. Michele and I got one for Nettie and Squeaky. I can count on one hand the times each of them have used it. Instead they scratch everything else: the bed, the chairs, the sofa, the bookshelves, even my comic books! And all the while they ignore a perfectly good, practically brand new scratching post! I see from the pages of Counter Attack that Harris also experiences this phenomenon.
The Collected Counter Attack! is a cute, funny book. Copies can be ordered through Alissa Harris’ online shop. Also available is a “fun pack” containing the issues of her series Urban Nomad, which she describes as “Quirky true stories about living in the many boroughs of New York City.” I recommend purchasing a copy of The Collected Counter Attack!, especially if you love cats. You will be looking through the pages of the book and constantly saying to yourself “Yep, that’s my cat, too!”