What if your feline had a weekly column to answer a question? How do you think your cat would answer? Written and illustrated by Charles Brubaker, Ask a Cat (2017, Smallbug Press) was sparked by the “ask a character” format. In his introduction, Brubaker explains that although he was working on a comic featuring a witch at the time, he arbitrarily decided to use a cat to answer questions he solicited on a message board. He debuted Ask a Cat on his tumblr account in December 2014, and in 2015, Brubaker bundled the comic strips he had drawn into a mini book to sell at convention. From his initial thought of just drawing a few comic strips, suddenly, his quirky comic strip had a future on GoComics! Now, two years later, a new Ask a Cat strip appears each Sunday, and it has become his main project.
The format of each strip is straightforward: Ask a question and, in the strip, the cat answers said question. The questions allow Brubaker to poke fun at conspiracy theories, take jabs at election process, and, most often, attempt to reveal the roots of the feline mystique. He relies on feline tropes, relationships between human and animal, and human nature, resulting in kitty answers that sometimes take a left turn into the strange and esoteric. Yet with every page, Brubaker dazzles with flair and originality.
Additionally, Brubaker’s illustrations are simple, fun, and engaging. The black-and-white drawings manifest the free spirit of e-zine culture without feeling outdated. Ask a Cat feels fresh and edgy, especially since both the text and the drawings are not trying to be serious, but playful. One might even say that Ask a Cat provides a reprieve from the pressures of life. Brubaker allows us the opportunity to chuckle and make light of ourselves and our idiocrasies.
Some questions seek to comment on the world at large, in a humorous, non-threatening way for readers:
- “How do I convince my friend that I’m right and he’s wrong?” is a commentary on bogus “studies show” as a way to sway a person’s point of view with fake numbers that must be true, because they appeared in the media.
- “Ever considered getting a job?” sadly conveys the cat’s observation that many people hate their jobs.
While other questions gently poke fun at animal/human relationship dynamics:
- “Why do some people have dogs instead of cats?” reveals that dogs will do anything they are told while cats have long ago domesticated humans into serving their feline overlords. (This is true!)
- “What’s in the box?” puts to rest why felines love boxes. FINALLY, the mystery is solved!
Silly, sweet, nonsensical, or even timely social commentary, Brubaker’s packed 130-page volume will keep you chuckling. As a feline, or parent to a non-human companion, the enjoyment and entertainment value of Ask a Cat will surely double. And with the holidays coming, this will make a great gift!