Monday, January 12, 2015

Proof that Batman is the greatest of all possible subject matter for comics (a particularly poorly-written review of Seo Kim's Cat Person)

In the above comic strip, cartoonist Seo Kim's cartoon avatar sits at her drawing board, trying to decide what to draw. She then has a glorious epiphany: She can make comics about ANYTHING.

She then fills the strip's fourth panel with her conception of the "ANYTHING" of potential comics subject matter, and, if you study that crowded panel full of wild imagery, you'll note that Batman appears not once, not twice but three times (Somehow pooping without taking his bat-suit off while a cat perches atop his head, hugging a cat, and crying).

In Cat Person, Kim's 2014 Koyama Press-published collection of cartoons, we see that as often as he might appear in that particular strip, Batman isn't really Kim's muse. She has a few different muses, one of whom is her big, fluffy cat Jimmy, another is her boyfriend Eddie.

Jimmy stars alongside cartoon Kim in the first 20-page section, "Jimmy & Me," a collection of cat comics that range from observational strips of the real but weird behavior of cats (of which the one on page seven is probably my favorite) to absurdist gags, like one where Kim and Jimmy run headfirst into one another and transform into a powerful composite human/cat creature.

Despite the title of the book, Kim does not stay on the subject of cats. Which might be too bad; hasn't she seen how well those Jeffrey Brown cat books have done in book stores? People live comics and they love cats! You can't go wrong with cat comics!
In "Eddie & Me," she tells slice-of-life stories about her boyfriend Eddie. Boyfriends aren't generally as funny as cats, but there are a few strips in here that are kinda funny, and some of them also feature her cat Jimmy and Jimmy's cat Bubble, so there's that. If Kim hadn't let us get to know here in the first section, and "Just Me" and "Just Me II", the two chapters that immediately precede "Eddie & Me," they might have seemed a little dire, but she does, so there's a bit of humor in just seeing this weird, quirky person we've spent some time with—a person we've seen vomit out of her mouth and, on one occasion her mouth and eyes at the sight of public displays of affection—in a relationship of her own.
Those middle sections tend to focus on Kim's life as a cartoonist, colorfully imaginative scenarios that should prove easy to relate to for anyone who's tried to do any form of creative work or work from home before (I particularly liked one where her bed chases her down like some sort of adorable monster and engulfs her, forcing her to sleep). Many of these focus on her relationship with social media and the problems a smart phone with Internet access can cause, others simply deal with Oreos and bus-riding.

The final section of the book is simply entitled "Misc.," and features cartoons devoid of Kim, Jimmy or Eddie (Actually, Kim's in a couple of them, but not as the star). These tend to be more traditional gag cartoons (a trio of beets share a bed, droplets of weat on their agonized looking, anthropomorphic faces, while one blows its nose, the caption reading "Sick Beets") and weird-ass drawings (a beaver and a moose making out) and funny animal strips.

Collections of cartoons like this can be really hard to review. So maybe I should just quit trying to review Cat Person. Instead, let me just say this: Seo Kim's Cat Person was a pretty funny book, full of pretty funny cartoons. I read it and liked it. I thought it was funny, and I like the way Kim draws stuff; I like the way her lines look on paper, and the expressions she draws on characters, and the way that one pigeon told her to calm her shit.
You should read it, because maybe you'll like it too.

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