Page 45 Review by Stephen
What was that sound?!
Imagine you're curled up on lounge sofa, merrily moulting ginger cat hair all over your owners' black cushions after having scratched several shades of shit out of their floor-length, velveteen curtains. It was exhausting - you deserved a nap.
But just as you'd settled down to doze, contemplating the decapitated frog you'd left beside the bed upstairs (exactly where the mother will soon place her naked foot), there's a jangling of keys and the teenage girl of the house laughs her way through the front door accompanied by her new girlfriend. And that's okay, but when her father staggers in a few minutes later and slumps like a drunk against the hall wall
that's when your life changes forever.
Before we launch properly in I should emphasise that, unlike the two self-determining graphic novels we stock (KNIGHT & DRAGON and Jason Shiga's enormously inventive MEANWHILE), this and YOU ARE A CAT VOL 1 are both illustrated prose brought to our comicbook attention on account of Tija's magnificent short-story collection HIPLESS BOY which I described as "early Tomine if Adrian was an optimist." Of the seemingly innocuous YOU ARE A CAT VOL 1 I wrote:
"WARNING: most certainly not suitable for kids! Oh, I know it looks as if it should be: for a start it's a cat, secondly it's riffing off and indeed mimicking your childhood favourites where you controlled the narrative by becoming the protagonist, making her or his decision for them, and then turning backwards or forwards to the duly prescribed page."
What it actually contained was all manner of mischief involving moments of a dysfunctional family that only a cat would witness. This time the warning's in the title and the cover, but nothing there could possibly prepare you for the true horror within. And we're not even talking about the zombies: there are worse fates than getting your neck nibbled on by a bunch of hive-minded shamblers.
"The next two hours are awful."
That, I promise you, is an understatement, for Sherwin Tija has put his thinking cap on sideways and come up with all manner of fucked-up futures for a cat caught in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, several strands involving you being bitten and infected yourself.
I am no expert in zombies, myself, but I consulted with Dominique and it appears that there are indeed very few strains which involve a zombie's perspective, let alone a zombified cat, and Tija's take is far from obvious because, to his mind, every animal would react differently. At one point when fresh human flesh is on offer you're given three options, one of which is "Will you teach them your love?" * Funny.
There are a substantial two hundred and fifty pocket-sized pages here which Sherwin has packed with enormous fight-or-flight variety involving your bit of fluff down the road, her aging owner, a fenced-off enclave surrounded by snipers, a helicopter, outrageously ruthless scientists and some brand-new means of infection which I would have imagined in a million years. Hint: you may never breast-feed again.
As to the myriad of final fates, they are soooooooooooooo dark that the brightest is almost the opportunity to throw yourself off a roof without having even attempted to negotiate DC's juddering, advert-stuffed website.
"But, Stephen, is there no hope of happiness?"
Maybe. Define "happiness". Hahahahaha!
* That was a written note and I can no longer find that page so it may not be verbatim. Also, I made the decapitated frog's head up from a personal, cold, clammy and squelch-crunch experience.