Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations by Jeffrey Brown

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Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations
By Jeffrey Brown
Chronicle Books

Jeffrey BrownThe first sentence is a good as any place—perhaps better than most—for brutal honesty, so let me state, for the record, that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a cat lover. It’s not that I harbor a great deal of ill-will toward felines, but it’s hard to love the little buggers when they are such a constant source of misery—sneezing, itchy eyes, the whole nine yards.

I’d immediately reject myself out of hand for this review, on the grounds of a good deal of bias against the subject matter, but let’s face it: there’s very little room for middle ground, on the subject. Cats are a love or hate proposition, and as such, it’s nearly impossible to approach the subject without some manner of bias.

Jeffrey Brown has never made any left any room for speculation as to where he stands on the subject. The artist loves cats. Looooves them. In fact, everything I know about Brown leads me to believe that he cradles them and speaks to them in baby talk, on a regular basis—he probably calls his pets by pet names, and showers them with kisses. Granted, I have little concrete evidence to back this up, but I feel pretty strongly about this hunch, which is to says what’s already been said many time before: Jeffrey Brown really, really likes cats.

Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations
is a 106-page love letter to the many felines with which Brown has shared a living space. It’s a full book devoted to strips revolving around cats being cats—chasing things, batting things, puking up medicine, and generally engaging it cat-like activities. Thankfully, it never delves into the Garfield/Marmaduke realm. There are no cats engaging in backtalk, or humanlike activities, outside the realm of honest-to-god cat stuff.

The strips are largely wordless, save for onomatopoeia, and the occasional speaking to a cat, on behalf of Brown’s illustrated counterpart. It might have proven an interesting experiment for Brown to have attempted to illustrate the entire book sans-text, but to his credit, the words never feel gratuitous. Brown’s softly shaded illustrations also compliment the subject matter rather well.

Cat Getting Out of the Bag is a book for cat lovers, across the board, and as such, is almost certainly Brown’s book with the largest potential cross-over audience. Brown’s previous work, largely comprised of diary strips, was always primarily geared toward traditional alternative comics readers, with perhaps some overlap into the world of non-comics-reading Death Cab fanatics. This book, however, is a calvalcade of adorable antics, page after page of opportunities for cat lovers to ‘ooh’ and ‘awe,’ and remember all of the intricacies of feline behavior that made them fall in love in the first place.

The book will have no trouble playing to Brown’s choir, but may very well be the first book to give the artist an audience amongst those who own cat calendars and sweaters, whose only regular exposure to comics comes in the form of Garfield and Ziggy. This is not a shot against Brown, but rather a testament to the artist’s impressive ability to play simultaneously to two entire different audiences, a cat Brown has been keeping pretty well under wraps for all this time.

–Brian Heater

3 Comments to “Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations by Jeffrey Brown”

  1. | June 12th, 2007 at 8:48 am

    hmm… must be a good book for me. i can’t pet cats with MayBebe’s allergic rhinitis. reading that may be a good substitute after all.

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