Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives
Written & Illustrated by: Dav Pilkey
Published by: Scholastic Graphix
The Beat’s editor in chief, Heidi MacDonald, is fond of saying that you can’t stop kids from making their own comics. With comics in multiple mediums and more than one instance of a “how to draw X in 14 easy steps” page, Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives carries that axiom through to its logical conclusion.
This bright, funny graphic novel is packed to the brim with enthusiasm and insight about comics… and just packed with comics in general!
The Cat Kid Comic Club is a spinoff of the Dog Man series, featuring the character Li’l Petey, who has promised his best friend Molly that they will share their know-how about how to make comics. However, you don’t need any context from the Dog Man series in order to enjoy the Cat Kid Comic Club books.
This is thanks in part to the fact that the first book in the series, Cat Kid Comic Club, fully introduces the concept of the spin-off series: twenty-one energetic baby frogs are taking part in the eponymous club, which gives each of them a chance to create their own ‘zine-style comics.
In the first volume, the baby frogs tackled their reservations about creating their own comics, and their father, Flippy, dealt with his reservations about the content of their comics. While it is not necessary to read Dog Man in order to enjoy this series, I would recommend readers begin with the first Cat Kid Comic Club before reading Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives.
In the first Cat Kid Comic Club, Pilkey utilized several different mediums in order to underscore the fact that the various baby frog club participants were each contributing their own comics.
That idea is continued and expanded in the sequel, which includes Chubs McSpiderbutt, a comic that features photographs Pilkey took of kit bashed vehicles and action figures (teased in the first book and fully
fleshed plastic’d out here in the second – you can see more about what went into this part of the project in the The Beat’s previous coverage of Perspectives, which includes a glimpse inside Pilkey’s studio in Japan, where he has been hard at work throughout the pandemic).
There is also an entry that features photographs of flowers in a garden accompanied by haiku and calligraphy, and another one crafted from shapes cut from construction paper. The net result is a graphic novel that really feels like an anthology culled from the efforts of multiple creators, underscoring the story’s message about different characters’ perspectives.
The fact that each of these comics is meant to have been created by a different one of the twenty-one baby frogs (or in many instances, created by a team of baby frogs) is emphasized in many amusing ways, including flourishes like in-narrative author bios and book awards.
Plus, each of the ‘zines is introduced by one of the baby frog creators, who extends their arm out of the panel so that the pages of their handcrafted comics reach a 1:1 ratio with the pages of the graphic novel – a meta flourish that ties the story together nicely.
Comics with Depth
Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives drives the point about multiple characters’ perspectives home thanks to a subplot involving two of the baby frog siblings, Naomi and Melvin. The two are at odds with one another as the book opens, and as a result, Melvin is tasked with creating a comic that presents Naomi’s perspective.
The subplot is further developed when a confrontation with a sexist adult gives Naomi the opportunity to demonstrate the fact that Melvin doesn’t fully understand the reality of gendered preferential treatment – as a boy, he doesn’t experience it, and is therefore effectively blind to it.
Melvin uses it to inform the comic he makes about Naomi, forging a deeper understanding between the two siblings (a plot point that it seems will come into play in the third volume of the series). However, this storyline illuminates how prejudices can be invisible when they aren’t directed towards us, while simultaneously revealing how exploring other perspectives through storytelling (and specifically comics) can serve as a remedy to this ignorance.
Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives
In addition to providing some insight into the depth that’s possible with comics, Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives is just a lot of fun. There’s even a hilarious werewolf pun – who could ask for more?
With plenty of well-timed gags throughout, both within the comics created by the baby frogs and directly out of the mouths of the baby frogs themselves, this graphic novel will keep readers of all ages chortling through the final panel.
Cat Kid Comic Club: Perspectives is available at your local bookstore or public library beginning today.