Cartoonist Jeffrey Brown's Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations was a surprise a few years back, a gentle, fun and funny book that I bought at least half a dozen times in 2007 to give out as Christmas gifts. Now the artist (Clumsy, I Am Going to Be Small) is back with another cat book, one that goes a few steps further than his first.
While Cat Getting Out of a Bag was a mixed bag of topics and stories, Cats Are Weird pretty much just follows the antics of two cats, gray-and-white Buddy and tiger Kitty. It gives the book a bit more focus, but also manages to depict the two cats' antics in a way that is universal.
The book is mostly comprised of single-page "stories," some of which are more gags or observations, but all of which build on the insanity of the feline species. If you have ever owned cats, you can't help but nod and laugh in understanding (if not frustration) of how Kitty manages to destroy a new set of Venetian blinds in under five hours, or Buddy's escapades with a glass of water.
Most of this is told in simple, nine-panel grids, but once in a while Brown breaks out of the predictability of that format to show us some surreal scenes that would never work in any other medium but comics.
Brown's artwork is better than ever in Cats Are Weird, and this time around, most of the book is in color. It's executed in markers, which provides a warm, handmade look that you just can't get with computer coloring.
A few full-page illustrations are scattered through the book. Drawn in a more realistic style, they help break up the narrative and show Brown once again stretching as an artist.
This is hardly groundbreaking work, but it's pleasant, enjoyable, and universal. Worth buying, once or a half dozen times.
Reviewed by John R. Platt on July 6, 2012
Cats Are Weird and More Observations