Really good stuff! Awesome story and characters and illustrations, but I was thoroughly disappointed to learn that this was the last book in the serieReally good stuff! Awesome story and characters and illustrations, but I was thoroughly disappointed to learn that this was the last book in the series! Absolute cliff-hanger with no satisfaction for an ending. I truly believed there would be a third and perhaps even fourth book....more
I like cats, so it wasn't hard to like this graphic novel. I took it from the library from the teen section even though I am 31...the teen section usuI like cats, so it wasn't hard to like this graphic novel. I took it from the library from the teen section even though I am 31...the teen section usually has the best graphic novels and comics.
The story follows Kit, a white teenager, in his hometown. He describes it in the first few pages with illustrations also by the author: "Yeah...This is where I live. It's called a 'low income' neighborhood. Which means we aren't exactly rolling in it." I appreciate Kit's awareness of the nature of his socio-economic position relative to others and his re-appropriation of "low income" when wealthier people were the ones who described it that way in the first place, but also his ability to bring some humor into it with the "rolling in it" remark. And so, this opening sets the stage for the book with Kit as the polite if begrudging loner who isn't doing good just to be cool but because he's got a moral compass. But his character is really genuine and I think even though this kind of character can be cliche that the author knows Kit well enough to pull it off.
And so Kit's adventure begins when he's bored and his academically-inclined brother starts yelling at him to go elsewhere because he's trying to study. Mom isn't home from work yet and Dad is not living in the house anymore and consistently blows off his sons on weekends where they were supposed to spend time together. Finally, at his brother's goading, Kit goes outside at Sam's (brother) suggestion to "find something to care about." Before long, Kit encounters a cat whom he follows to find a few kittens she is caring for, presumably in the hopes that Kit will bring them food. Kit returns to the house to take some cans of cat food (the family has their own indoor cat named Frodo) to them. Mom discovers that Kit has been taking the cat food, which at the rate of feeding six or seven strays daily that Kit has discovered, she makes it clear the family can't afford. Kit then starts stealing from a local store. He's later confronted by the clerk who's known all along he was stealing. The clerk is not happy about the stealing, but seems to understand the problem Kit has--he can't afford cat food, but he needs to help the cats to survive. After a short conversation about Jainism, which is a religion that holds animals in high regard and which is the clerk's religion, he makes a deal with Kit: if Kit will come in for one hour in the mornings to help with the store, the clerk will give him cat food. Kit agrees.
Meanwhile, Kit is getting harassed by a small group of kids who pick on him and other people because they have nothing better to do and they actually hate themselves, although one of them, a girl named Jess, takes an interest in Kit as more than just someone to make fun of. It's difficult for her to distance herself a little from her group of friends to make Kit aware of her interest in him, but little by little, she is able to. She starts to draw a comic about Kit as a sort of superhero called Katman, which takes on a lot more epic storytelling than what is actually happening. Some of her drawings are incorporated into the graphic novel itself, although I found it difficult to understand what was happening in her renderings. They also, because they were much more fantastical than the reality of what was going on in the novel, were hard to relate to the novel itself. So while I wasn't necessarily distracted by Jess's drawings, I actually forgot that they were in there until I read the book again; I remembered the story of the novel quite well, but none of Jess's drawings.
As the story goes on, Kit comes to the point where people in the neighborhood are complaining about cat piss in their yards, particularly in the yard where his family lives. His mom reminds him how difficult it was for the family to find this house, which is already broken up into four apartments and they live together in one, and it is rented, so if the landlord finds out about the cat piss smell in the backyard, he may kick them out. There is also a sign out front of the house that says "For Sale by Owner," so Kit knows he must find another place for the cats. He explores the nearest animal shelter where he finds the cats and dogs overcrowded and living in unsanitary conditions. he also discovers their policy of one week and we kill them, although the woman he talks with never actually refers to killing--it is all implied, but Kit knows what she's saying. He doesn't see bringing the strays to a shelter as an alternative. Next, he thinks of the Cat Lady. The groups of teens who had been making fun of Kit always referred to him as the Cat Lady's son or one of her kittens, but Kit had never met her. As the story progresses, Kit meets the Cat Lady who is a shut-in with at least a dozen cats, papers strewn everywhere, posters and articles on the walls referring to left-wing and possibly radical activism, etc. The Cat Lady, whose name is Orthea, is a bit nervous and scattered but seems to take to Kit. She makes him promise, though, that none of the other kids she'd seen him with (Jess and her cronies) would be allowed near her house. She reveals a very profound distrust and hatred of humans and even uses misanthropic quotes she memorized from "Planet of the Apes" and the Bible.
Anyway, without re-writing the book or giving away the ending, I'll just say that Orthea agrees to take on Kit's strays, although trying to get them in the house proves problematic since they are feral. However, she allows Kit to build a ramp up to a window of her house where the cats can get in and out as they please. But that is not the end of the story--find out for yourself!
Also, I appreciated this book as well because the illustrations seem as though they were done by hand and they aren't all computer-perfect measurements or placements or a rainbow of digital colors. In fact, interestingly, the book starts in black and white, and the people and their skin is portrayed in gradations of white and gray, but some of the cats have brown coloring. The background begins to also take on more color gradually, starting with some shades of brown and becoming more complex as the story moves along, finally taking on some bright reds, especially in the parts that Jess illustrates "Katman."
Freakin hilarious! I was laughing my ass off a lot of the time, and contrary to probably some people's belief, I found a lot in common with Hothead'sFreakin hilarious! I was laughing my ass off a lot of the time, and contrary to probably some people's belief, I found a lot in common with Hothead's hatred for biological men and patriarchal society. It is sometimes difficult for me to laugh, though, because most people who don't know that I'm trans think I AM a biological male and have the same hatred for me. I sometimes hate myself for hiding behind my bio man identity to navigate more easily in this patriarchal world. However, I think that anyone with an open mind, whatever their gender identity, can appreciate this book...but probably people most like Hothead can appreciate it most....more