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Ask a Cat, by Charles Brubaker – Book Review by Fred Patten


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ask-a-cat-book-cover_orig.jpg?resize=232Ask a Cat, by Charles Brubaker. Illustrated.
Martin, TN, Smallbug Press, June 2017, trade paperback $9.99 (127 pages).

The Fuzzy Princess, vol. 1, by Charles Brubaker. Illustrated.
Martin, TN, Smallbug Press, July 2017, trade paperback $10.99 (184 pages).

Charles Brubaker is a fan and expert of comic strips and Japanese TV anime. He has been drawing his own comics for several years. Both The Fuzzy Princess and Ask a Cat currently appear on the internet, the former in color and the latter in black-&-white. Now he is producing collections of them through his own Smallbug Press.

Brubaker says in his Introduction to Ask a Cat that it began as a minor throwaway panel within a comic strip about a little witch that he was preparing to submit to a syndicate. It was a parody of the “ask a character” fillers in other strips where readers can send in questions about the strip. Since Brubaker’s strip about the witch hadn’t come out yet, he filled the “ask” panel with a cat, and asked on a message board for silly questions about cats for him to answer. He got more questions about cats than he expected, and the syndicate liked his throwaway panel better than his strip about the witch. Ask a Cat began on June 22, 2015. The solicited message board questions were soon replaced by genuine questions submitted by his readers. Now, after two years, here is a collection of his panels.

Although Ask a Cat is designed as a weekly gag strip, many of the questions are semi-serious, such as “Why do you absolutely have to catch that mysterious red dot?” and “What’s in the box?” Others are nonsensical, like “What actually happened to Schrodinger’s cat?” and “Did you file your taxes this year?” Brubaker answers them all in the proper spirit of feline condescending arrogance. “Do you like vacuum cleaners?” “You’re kidding, right? Those tech-demons can go back to wherever they came from. The only acceptable vacuum cleaners are the Roombas. It’s basically a glorified cat lift, perfect for us lazy furballs. I should go on a road trip with this thing.”

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509629_orig.jpg?resize=162%2C250The Fuzzy Princess (since October 17, 2016; published two or three times a week) presents the adventures on Earth of Princess Katrina of St. Paws, her royal escorts Chiro (a bat) and Kuma (a bear) who have been sent by her father to watch over her while on Earth, and those they meet there, mainly the young wizard Jackson (that’s Kat and Jackson on the cover of vol. 1), his sister Jordan, their human friends (Gladdie, Tara, Rick) and enemies (Bloated Whale and Max), and Krisa, a rat spy from Mousechester who is usually locked inside a birdcage.

The Fuzzy Princess (in black-&-white in this book) has a stronger story line than Ask a Cat. It is harder to tell who is weirder; Princess Kat and her bat and bear escorts, or the humans and Krisa. Kat and her companions come to Earth in a flying box (cats love boxes) that has her large interdimensional room inside it. Kat has a detachable tail that can be magically turned into anything. This vol. 1 has an introduction by Bill Holbrook of Kevin & Kell fame.

The best way to review a collection of gag-a-day cartoons is to just show them. If you like them, here are two whole books of them.

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– Fred Patten

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