oni logoAMBER LOVE 03-AUG-2014 I can’t exactly read every Oni Press book but I can confirm that those I’ve given a chance, have been impressive. I WAS THE CAT by Paul Tobin and Benjamin Dewey is no exception. I saw the cat on the cover image and wondered how similar could this be to my favorite cozy mysteries that feature cats. It’s quite different actually. The cat, Burma, is humanlike with his speaking ability, incredible intelligence, and ambitions. Burma is not decoration for the protagonist to solve a case. He is the case.

I WAS THE CAT has plenty going for and I hope this short preview is enough to convince you. First of all, it’s the perfect kind of contained story within one graphic novel that would be a suitable gateway to give to anyone new to comics. There’s no gigantic universe of characters to learn about in order to delve into the pages. Secondly, besides the cat, the story has an African-American female protagonist, Allison, with her female Londoner friend, Reggie, as the leads; Burma the cat has two male sidekicks of his own: Rohan the muscle and Cardiff his manservant. Next, the book is beautifully colored and lettered making it visually appealing. Dewey favors a five-panel page but varies it as needed to cover the “walk and talk” moments or the high-action fights and chases. Finally, the content fits well into the widest audience with a PG-13/teen+ kind of rating; there is some minor implied nudity (Allison in the shower and getting dressed) and a couple brief bedroom sex scenes where bodies aren’t exposed much but you certainly know what’s going on.

Burma isn’t quite immortal. He appears to be the only living cat that truly has nine lives which he’d like to have preserved in a memoir. This is why he hires Allison Breaking, famed news blogger, to be his ghost writer. Readers learn of Burma’s previous lives through history and his attachments to some most notable figures such as U.S. Presidents, Napolean and Audrey Hepburn. As anyone who knows cats can tell you, they have no problem putting humans in their rightful subservient places where cats are really the masters. Burma has spent all nine lives trying to take over the world. You’ll have to read it to see if he’s successful.

Here are some sample pages plucked from the interiors (not a sequential snippet).