Review by Woodrow Phoenix
After thirty years of continuous publication ’zine’ seems like too small a word to describe King-Cat Comics & Stories. It contains intensely felt and thoughtfully compiled comic strips, observational drawings, essays and other material, all hand drawn, detailing episodes from the life of artist and writer John Porcellino. However, these publications started out as zines, and nothing has really changed as they have been produced from all the different towns and houses John P. has inhabited in the time he has been making and mailing them out to his subscribers. Map of my Heart is a 360-page book, subtitled ‘The Best of King-Cat Comics & Stories 1996–2002’. It collects ten issues; 51 (with the now-iconic ‘Root Hogs or Die’ image on the front cover), 52, and issues 54 to 61.
There are thirteen pages of story notes and commentary on the issues. One interesting detail he explains is that with all the problems from his OCD, issue 61 in September 2002 was only 24 pages long. So he included a mini-zine, sketchbook drawings of his beloved cat ‘The Kukoc Cat Named Maisie’ which is one of the special treats included in the ‘Bonus Comix’ section at the end of this book. Those beautifully sensitive sketches are followed by ’Map of My Heart: 11 pages of selected notebook and journal entries, 1999–2002’. It features such gems as this entry for March 1999: “DWM, 31; Self-centered, celibate recluse; neurotic, good cook. Seeks quiet, dependable F to fill in for Mom. Must be good listener. No smokes, drugs, alcohol, fabric softener, or germs, please. Do you think we can make a love connection?”
Map of My Heart was reissued by Drawn and Quarterly in 2020 along with The Hospital Suite and Perfect Example, with new cover designs to match the other Porcellino title From Lone Mountain. There is no new content in these reissues, but having them back in print is a bonus in itself. John P. continues to produce King-Cat and in a 2020 interview for National Public Radio he says “even though the days of the zine revolution of the ’90s are in the past, the zine world is still really strong and it’s still really vibrant. It’s so wonderful in so many ways. Since the moment I discovered the small-press zine — making something, photocopying it and sending it in an envelope through the mail to other people — there’s been no doubt that that’s my true home as a creative person. After all these years, it’s still what I feel jazzed about.”