Cats! Girlfriends and Catfriends

Cats! Girlfriends and Catfriends
Cats! Girlfriends and Catfriends review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Dark Horse - ‎ 978-1-50672-614-4
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 2012-2015
  • English language release date: 2022
  • UPC: 9781506726144
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: European, Humour

Manon has Grapefruit, Erika looks after Pudgy, and Imnopet stays with Camille, hence the girlfriends and catfriends of the title. Lucie and her pet Pollux occasionally also put in an appearance. It’s Manon who’s the central character in Frédéric Brrémaud and Paola Antista’s comedy slice of life strips, with this second translated edition picking up more or less where Purrfect Strangers left off. It combines the final three Cats! albums in English translation, now slightly more assured as a selection of situations and themes have been established.

Much of the humour depends on just how charming individual readers find cats, but then those ill-disposed are hardly going to buy a graphic novel titled Cats! in the first place. It leaves the well-disposed to delight in gags about Grapefruit clawing a floating raft, Cats drawn in poses by Antista to form an alphabet, and attempting to cook with the distraction of a cat. Then there’s little Misty’s fascination for wigs. “A passing fancy?”, asks Manon, “No way! More like a fixation! Embarrassing every time!”

Antista’s cartooning is a constant delight, spotlighting a variety of cats moving, playing and feeding, in turns imperious, mischievous, and howling, but almost always loveable. That also applies to the cast, where as seen on the sample art, it’s a toss up whether it’s the cats or little Manon who’s the cutest. Also worth noting is how completely Antista draws locations. Trips to the countryside are frequent, and she makes every village a place you’d just want to step into.

Dogs featured occasionally in the previous collection, but Brrémaud here broadens the selection of wildlife by including a hedgehog, a squirrel and a parrot. The most off the wall appearance is the occasional interruption of the regular features to incorporate the faked Russian folk tales of Uncle Mouse. Other regular features include educational pages about breeds of cat, biology or habits, photo albums and frequent stories from Manon’s infancy.

The collection closes with a sepia-toned five page adaptation of Puss in Boots, the old fairy tale from Charles Perrault and Giovanni Franceso Straporola as drawn by Giovanni Rigano, who’s credited with the ideas for a couple of earlier gags. He has more text to accommodate, but he also packs his panels, with sketched detail for a very busy look.

It’s impossible to imagine a cat lover not captivated by the charm Brrémaud and Antista supply on page after page. Why not stock up with your Christmas presents early?