Written By: Mark Evanier
Art By: Steve Uy
Published By: Dynamite
I love cats. It’s easy to love cartoon cats. Classic or contemporary, cats can be adorable. I also love lasagna, and my hatred of Mondays is rivaled only by my hatred of everything. Bringing Garfield and Grumpy Cat together for a crossover was one of those outta-left-field announcements that got me pretty excited a few months back, but in hindsight I’m wondering why I got my hopes up.
Of course this wouldn’t turn out.
Garfield as a comic strip character has always worked a lot better in short-form gags and repetition. You want to open a newspaper in the 1990’s and see him kick Odie off the table. Similarly, Grumpy Cat works best in single-frame Internet meme photos. You want to see a grumpy-looking cat sitting next to a Jack-o-Lantern and read the text “I hate Halloween,” and you want to find the retweet button immediately because you gotta retweet this stuff NOW. These characters are both household names because human beings find something entertaining about them, especially in short bursts. Thus: How this comic book robs both the characters of anything entertaining is truly fascinating.
The target audience is clearly younger children, but the lack of plot makes the book a painful read. In issue #3, both Grumpy Cat and Garfield find themselves brainwashed into being happy, and their friends get to the bottom of an evil cat food company that has some kind of scifi garbage going on to brainwash cats for no reason. The story really just drags. The first half of the entire issue is just characters repeatedly pointing out that the titular cats are saying nice things instead of pessimistic things, and even for a child that might not pick up on subtlety, it’s a bit much.
The other thing that makes this book, and really this series, difficult to read is the art style. The Garfield characters are all on-model but then no one else in the book looks like they belong. There are several human beings and not a single one has eyes a fraction as large as Jon Arbuckle’s. I’m personally a fan of comic book cross-overs. I think comics are a perfect medium for silly concepts and unlikely pairings, but if Archie vs Predator has taught us anything, it is the importance of tying everything together visually to make even the most extreme of crossovers function.
Pairing two cats that are grumpy by nature should be easier than Archie vs Predator, but somehow we’re left wondering if this is a concept pitch that wasn’t yet ready for print.