Grab your savoury carbohydrate-based snack of choice and get ready to double-dip into the spicy relish of graphic noveldom, for today I have two of the same for your viewing pleasure. The first is for the grown-ups, while the second is aimed at a YA audience. Let’s get dipping!
I Was the Cat by Paul Tobin and Benjamin Dewey opens with protagonist Allison Breaking, investigative journalist and owner of the site Breaking News, being contracted to ghost-write the memoirs of someone that she has been assured is very unusual. Enter Burma, a talking orange moggy, who is on the last of his allocated nine lives and wishes to record all the drama and excitement of his previous eight. Once Allison gets over the shock of working for a talking cat, she begins to take down all of the fantastical claims that Burma asserts are true – for you see, it seems that Burma, in each of his previous lives, had a damn good crack at taking over the world. Various circumstances managed to get in the way every time however, leaving Burma to recount his glory days to Allison in the comfort of his mansion-like apartment. But as Burma’s tales become more outlandish and maniacal, and strange events start to occur around Allison, the question is begged: has Burma put his plans for world domination behind him, or is this just the start of a new Cat Empire?
content that you wouldn’t normally find in a graphic novel. This was an odd reading experience for me because the subject matter and storyline didn’t seem to suit the illustrated format, or rather, were not what I expected based on the graphic novels I usually read. Admittedly, I only read graphic novels occasionally, but I normally like them to be at least mildly humorous, with a decent smattering of quirky oddness. This didn’t really fit either of those categories and seemed to me that it would work better as a novella.
In terms of graphic novel-ish elements that one might normally expect, the art is reasonably traditional in style, there’s a fair bit of violence and there’s quite a bit of interesting stuff happening in the background of frames of scenes when Allison is out of doors. But there’s a lot more story here than I would generally expect and the plot moves reasonably slowly, as Burma recounts each of his eight previous lives (with the same end result each time).
Don’t Dip If…
…you’re looking for a standard, fast-paced story with lots of action and unpredictable twists. This one unfolds at languid, cat-lying-in-the-sun sort of a pace.
Overall Dip Factor:
Give it a go if you like cats, and need some tips on how to rise up the ranks to Overlord’s Favourite Pet when the inevitable Catpocalypse happens. Otherwise, if you don’t mind a graphic novel that places the emphasis firmly on the “novel” part, this may be something you’d like to try.
Satan’s Prep by Gabe Guarente and Dave Fox follows unfortunate, young Trevor Loomis who has been sent to a high school in the bowels of Hell due to a clerical error after his untimely (and somewhat embarrassing) death. As he moves through classes that are by turns humiliating, painful and painfully humiliating, and faces the attentions of demonic bullies, his only hope of release is through earning grades good enough to have him transferred to Purgatory. After meeting the alluring Persephone Plumm, however, some things, at least are looking up for Trevor. Torn between his own conversations with Persephone, and his friends insistence that she is a succubus sent to torment him further, Trevor doesn’t know how to proceed. But sometimes, as Trevor learns, you’ve got to rise against the authority holding you down and become the posthumous hero you were born to be – even if it is only in your own lunch hour.
Dip into it for…
confirmation that school, no matter where in the greater frame of reality it exists, can sometimes be hell. This is a funny, fast-paced take on all the staples of school life that reek of horror and suffering including, but not limited to, icky science experiments, rejection by cliques with varying degrees of unsightliness, and dodgeball. You can’t help but feel sorry for Trevor as he ploughs on through adversity, trying to make the best out of a bad business, while simultaneously minding his own. Some of the characterisations are quite clever and nicely reflect the bureaucracy and red-tape for that is present for those still living. There’s even a feel-good ending that was quite unexpected and tied up the loose ends in a very satisfying fashion.
Don’t Dip If…
…tales featuring hell don’t float your boat. Also, this is a comical sort of a comic, so if you’re looking for the real-life sort of violence and torment, you won’t find it here.
Overall Dip Factor:
This is going to be a hit with readers in the young adult age bracket. It’s the kind of story that places a well-worn plot into a setting that has great mileage for putting quirky new twists on a familiar theme. Trevor is also a very relateable anti-hero and will no doubt become the poster boy for those who just want to get through school with a minimum of fuss – demonic or otherwise.
Until next time, my art-loving double dippers,
*I received I Was the Cat in digital form from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review*
* I received Satan’s Prep in digital form from the publisher via Edelweiss in return for an honest review*