Saturday, 2 October 2010

Review:Cat-B Kliban

Cat by B.Kliban is the perfect little gift book for the cat lover and in fact back in 1975 sparked an entire merchandising and publishing phenomena. Without B.Kliban's unusual cat cartoons we may not have the New Yorker cat cartoons and calenders, and we certainly wouldn't have Jeffery Brown's 'Cat Getting Out Of A Paper Bag'. B. Kliban's cat cartoons are far superior to Brown's, as well as being obviously affectionate, they are absurd and surreal, and seem to really get at the essence of mystery that is our feline friend. He also sums up my feelings about cats perfectly in this, the first picture in the collection:

My previous cat experience was with an understandably disgruntled three legged cat (who was made worse by my little brothers cruel streak) who I was afraid to walk past barefoot down the stairs. As a result of this I've always been more of a dog person until recently, which is probably why I enjoy this book so much.

The pictures in here remind me of the silly voice a friend of mine would put on whenever they saw a cat, of the imagined situations and personalities she would instill them with. The process of anthropomorphism here is a deceptively simple one here, it's all in the eyes: two simple circles with slight variations that symbolise annoyance, surprise, curiosity, and a whole host of other emotions. Kliban's cats aren't idealised either, you can tell he loves them for all their traits, even the less desirable ones. This is defiantly more in depth then the cliched poster of a kitten hanging from a tree branch. Kliban's nonsense cat language is also delightful, with a range of cats sounds you've probably never heard but at the same time don't seem entirely unlikely (wacka wacka and honk honk are among my favourites). If you own or like cats each picture in this collection will make you laugh out loud, and if you don't laugh out loud you probably have a lump of coal where your heart should be. The special bond between an owner and their cat (as well as the obvious question when it comes to cats: who owns who?) is described here with a very subtle and sparing use of words. It is the visual rather than the verbal pun that triumphs here (catchup. pursey cat, cat eyes etc). Dedicated with love to his own cats (who he draws in a more realistic manner throughout the collection), by the end of the book you get a real feel for cats not with a human personality but with something in between human and animal, something unique, something cat. Purrfect (sorry, I couldn't resist).

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