Top Ten Favorite Comics CatsA column article, Top Ten by: The Comics Bulletin All-Stars
If there's one think that many of us working here at CB love almost as much as comics, it's our pet kitty cats. So we all got together to talk about some of our favorite furry, fuzzy friends in the comics field. And yeah, we did stray into some cats that aren't quite real cats, but anyone who loves his felines enough to put on a costume with pointy ears deserves to get mentioned in our list.
Yeah, we skipped a certain lasagna-loving fat cat, and quite a few other great cats as well, so let us know your favorite four-legged felines in the comments section!
10. Roy Harper's Cat
The lows don't get much lower. Reeling from the death of his daughter, the loss of an arm and a limp dick the one-time Red Arrow, Roy Harper, was in a baaaad place when he decided to shoot up heroin and take on the noble cause of defending a dead cat. Poor, innocent, nameless kitty, you did not deserve such a fate.
Maybe the bigger cat story here is "China Cat". Yeah, that's the name Harper uses when he asks a drug dealer for heroin (even the dealer doesn't know what the hell Roy's talking about). Apparently, this stuff is so good that it gives you ruthless hallucinations while still allowing you do normal superhero activities like fight thugs and get beat up by Batman. I'm no expert in heroin, but doesn't it turn you a slumping sack of useless?
There are good sides to a massive company-wide reboot, and one is erasing this scene from history. Rest in peace, random alley cat.
- Jamil Scalese
9. Shakira from Skartaris
There's no confusion about Shakira. She's as much high concept as she is character, but it's a simple visual one we don't really need much back story on. She's one of those elegant black cats who looks great in gold bling. She's also, when she wants to be, a beautiful woman with raven black hair.
Probably lifted directly from an obscure Star Trek episode (where a similar character called Isis was the companion of Gary 7), Mike Grell's shapeshifter was rescued by Travis Morgan shortly after his arrival in Skartaris, and then was rescued in turn by him. Shakira turned out to be a warrior woman on par with his long-time love Tara, and became one of the Warlord's retinue. Like Tara, she adopts the Skartaris given female look for an active life style, the fur bikini. It's just that, unlike Tara, the fur is probably her own.
- Shawn Hill
Hailing from the land of Maybe, a place where things that may or may not exist... may or may not exist, Schrodinger showed up only a short way into Chris Roberson and Steve Ellis' series Memorial for IDW. A talking black-and-white cat (yes, you read that right- - black AND white), he acted as a guide for main character Em, a talking white human, as she navigated the series.
With a wise-guy attitude and high interest in self-preservation, Schordinger's arrival was Roberson's way of somewhat gently introducing readers into the world of his series. Before we got too bogged down in shadow castles, people turning into statues, and magical doors, first we spent time with a talking cat. It’s a simple way of introducing the otherworldly into the book, because who doesn’t enjoy spending time with a talking cat? And it was from there that we moved on to explore the rest of the world. After a long tease regarding the real-life inspiration for the kittycat, Roberson eventually revealed that Schrodinget's distinctive mannerisms were actually based on a fellow comic-book writer, in sort -- Fables's Bill Willingham. Although, I think, Willingham doesn’t call women "toots".
- Steve Morris
7. Luna and Artemis
Why do cats make such good mentors? In real life, cats are idiots -- but not like how dogs are unabashed idiots and don't seem to care. Cats remain confident and mysterious enough that you get the impression that they know something they're not telling. But all they know is that the least convenient time to put their anus in your face.
Luna and Artemis from Sailor Moon are like the opposite of cats, because they're smart and probably don't have anuses from what I've seen in the comics and anime. Respective advisors to Sailor Moon and Sailor V(enus) and providers of opportune power-ups to our heroes, Luna and Artemis are actually humanoid servants who were reincarnated as cats. At some point Naoko Takeuchi decided they needed to revert back to human form, which is unfortunate because there's something so right about teenaged Japanese girls receiving wisdom and training from what appear to be common housecats.
Also, they end up having a daughter named Diana that time travels from the 30th century to hang out with them.
- Danny Djeljosevic
6. Tinker from We3
Written as a more moralistic, hyper violent Homeward Bound for grown-ups (despite the claim by some that it's suitable for kids as young as 10, make no mistake, this comic is Takashi Miike-levels of violent), Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's We3 is a masterful heartstring tugger that delves into issues of animal testing and the interactions between technology and warfare. At its heart are three animals who fulfill three separate narrative and combative roles. There's team leader 1 a.k.a Bandit, the loyal dog tank, 3 a.k.a. Pirate, the goofy rabbit explosives expert who mostly just cares about food and then there's the deadliest of the batch, 2 a.k.a Tinker, a cat assassin.
Tinker, despite being a cat in a mech suit, is still all cat, which means a personality centered around condescension and menace and a general disregard for most orders. The animals, through special skull implants, are able to speak on the same level of a 12 year old texter and this is where Tinker's personality comes through most. As Bandit continuously talks about home and being a "gud dog," Tinker is instead more cynical and far more interested in what's going on with their weaponry and armor. It's that devil may care attitude and attention to detail that makes Tinker utterly believable as the most terrifying of We3's characters but it's the juxtaposition between Tinker and Bandit that also makes them such a believable, sympathetic pair. And in the end, while the story isn't quite suitable for kids, it's that relationship that reduces even the most hardened of us to blubbering children by its end.
5. Tawky Tawny
Tawky Tawny is the kind of character they just don't let exist in superhero comics anymore. Once upon a time someone came up with a story where a tiger accused of murder is given a serum so he can verbally defend himself; he then moved to Fawcett City to live as a regular person, where Captain Marvel hooked him up with a sweet gig working in a museum. And it was seen by millions of children and ashamed adults.
It's that kind of tomfoolery that set Captain Marvel apart from Superman, ultimately. While Superman was punching scientists and tricking women he supposedly loved, Captain Marvel was living in a world where a genial tiger in a green sportcoat wasn't no thang. He wasn't really much of a good fit when all those Fawcett characters were brought to the DC Universe, probably because the only tiger-headed person in that world is the kung fu assassin Bronze Tiger, and he's only wearing a mask anyway. But at least Grant Morrison could put Tawky to good use.
Also I'm pretty sure his cousin is Tiger Lawyer.
- Danny Djeljosevic
Sometimes linked to Catwoman, but mostly a villainous analog of Batman himself, Thomas Blake has lived his nine lives under a darker star than his primary foe. With a possibly mystical cape of rejuvenation, a slicing-sharp Cat-arang, and his own belt of tricks, he lived down to his idol in his early days, or betrayed or annoyed Selina. But after encountering Green Arrow at a very low ebb, he went back to Africa to live with a pride of lions, finding in cats what Bruce found in bats, and he's been much more bad-ass ever since.
Gail Simone even made him someone capable of heroism and forgiveness in her pioneering Secret Six. Blake even started a bromance of sorts with fellow alpha-male Deadshot, the man who'd killed his lion family. Earlier bouts of sexism and top-catting were paid for by an ill-advised liaison with Cheshire, who was no better for him than she was for Red Arrow. But most telling of all were recent battles with Bronze Tiger and Batman, where he held his own despite horrible punishment, proving that this cat had truly found a new leash on life.
- Shawn Hill
3. Fritz the Cat
One of my favorite stories in comics is when Robert Crumb sent a story over to Help! magazine, depicting a hedonistic cat taking a young feline lady home, removing all her clothing and mounting her to pick off fleas. Before publication, Crumb received a letter from editor Harvey Kurtzman reading, "Dear R. Crumb, we think the little pussycat drawings you sent us were just great. Question is, how do we print them without going to jail?" This was the first time R. Crumb publicly submitted a story featuring Fritz the Cat.
Fritz was a pseudo-intellectual college student, living in a large metropolis populated with other anthropomorphic animals and Crumb used him to make commentary on the seedy underbelly of urban society. If you didn’t know a Fritz the Cat, you probably were one. Fritz always depicted himself as the downtrodden, yet always came off as the only character in the story that seemed to have it at least somewhat together. After all, if there were one character in comics that always got what he wanted, it very well could be Fritz the Cat.
But the discussion of the sex and drugs in the Fritz stories always overshadow the brilliant commentary on late-'60s/early-'70s culture that came out of R. Crumb. The comics aren't just dirty fun, but manage to be remarkably poignant and reflective of the period they were parodying; youth drug use, the "free love" movement, race relations, the Cold War, the leftist anti-Capitalism and anti-bourgeoisie movements. Crumb held a mirror up to youth culture and all they caught were the dick jokes.
- Nick Boisson
2. Earthling JJ Cattingsworth III (King City)
Whether serving as cat-o-flague to disguise Joe as he peeks over a ledge, standing in as a make-shift megaphone, or cleaving everything in a straight line clear in two, Earthling is the solution to most of Joe's problems, from miniscule to life-threatening. Sure, the harder stuff - It's all of this, the personality, the utility, the humor, that sets Earthling apart from normal cats. It's why he's spectacular. takes an injection of cat juice, but otherwise he's pretty much the definition of a MacGuffin.
And yet, if you replaced him with something else, I don't think King City would have the same charm. So much of it is about what you do between the South Korean Zombie War and the giant Cthulhu-esque monster threatening all of creation and how much more important that is than what you do during them.
When Joe left King City to run away from his past and started his training to become a cat master, he adopted Earthling as a kitten. For the next two years, they grew together and became more than man and tool; Earthling became the same thing all cats are to their owners: a friend. And what are friends better at than helping you through the tough times, like going back to the city you fled and helping you to grow up?
While Graham certainly doesn't need another outlet for his gags, which manage to find their way into the background of almost every panel if they aren't in the foreground, channeling them through Earthling gives the character a bit of cattitude (I'm sorry).
- David Fairbanks
OK, you caught us, she's not a cat, but damn if Selina Kyle isn't the best crazy cat lady of all time. Catwoman holds rank as one of the most popular female characters in comics, and remains a consistent fixture in the extended Bat Family. Starting out as "the Cat", the master thief has since morphed into the most appropriate totem for felines for our list, beating out Black Cat, Tigra (sorry, Ray), Black Panther, and a slew of other fan-favorites.
Much like a cat, you never know Selina is thinking. Sometimes she snuggles close, other times she nips at you, but most of the time she just wants to take your shit. Whether portrayed by Michele Pfeiffer or Anne Hathaway (Am I forgetting someone...? Nah.), or on the page or in a cartoon, Catwoman is a constant reminder of the power women process: brains, brawn and boobs. And claws. And whips.
- Jamil Scalese