Page 45 Review by Stephen
"I wanna hold yourrr handddd
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna holddd your hand
But I haven't got any hands because I'm a biscuit."
At last! The queen of the UK mini-comic scene has her own big book with lavish production values and French flaps so large and extravagant that they encompass the whole of the E.U.
Long have I longed for long-form Lizz Lunney, and here DEPRESSED CAT stars in his first full-length feature called 'A Day In Nine Lives'. He's looking a little dubious about it.
Depressed Cat is trapped - not in a neighbour's shed, but in a dreary, dead-end, nine-to-five existence under a witless, unappreciative boss and his own defeatist resignation. To add insult to injury the world conspires to make him even more miserable: his car won't start, public transport is pathetic, his psychologist is a moron and his medication isn't working. Plus he has fleas.
"These nine lives seem to go on forever."
Perhaps a change of scenery is required, a journey to the far-off Triple Peaks where lives the fabled Wise Cat. The Wise Cat is no fool: he charges fifty quid a pop! Will Depressed Cat learn the secret to unfettered joy, experience satori and sort himself out? Will he at least bring back from this trip an upgrade? Well, yeah, sort of. I howled with laughter.
Depressed Cat is an exceptional piece of minimalist design: a square, chinless head; ears that are lifeless and locked into place, a down-turned, moaning mouth and a patternless jumper over which drip the tips of his starched shirt collar. He is what you might call stiff.
All of Lunney's linework is minimalist with rare deployment of tone but, save for the intentional inertia of Depressed Cat, her forms are far from stiff. Her line is gloriously expressive - minimum fuss for maximum empathy - as seen in 'What If These Were The Dominant Forms of Communication'. The forms are baking, mime, sculpture and interpretive dance; the question is "Will you go out with me?" and the answers are uproariously elaborate, especially when expressed in interpretive dance. I am now begging someone to ask me out now, if only to re-enact that answer. I hope it's no one I actually fancy.
Oh yes, the colours! We have colours now: burgundy, green, purple and an orange which positively glows. And she understands space! I don't mean outer space - although Professor Lizz Lunney is on hand to give you a lesson on particle physics (or something) - I mean letting the pages, the panels and the shapes all breathe. She doesn't even need panels. Sometimes the arrangements themselves form perfectly positioned and partitioned bundles, satisfying pockets of beautiful art with crystal-clear lettering.
Some of this you may have seen before in anthologies, on cards or in Lizz's micro-mini-comics. But there's plenty of new material and maybe you don't like mini-comics anyhoo and would rather buy books!
Among the reprints are ROMANTIC BISON #1 and ROMANTIC BISON #2 but now, for the first time ever, there is a concluding instalment! Brief reminder: after admiring from afar (though maybe not far enough: hiding in the bulrushes all day and just staring seemed like stalking) our mud-loving bovine beast, blissed-up on the beauty of Sylvia the rabbit, finally made his move
via a love letter which Sweary Cat hid from Sylvia, such was Sweary Cat's jealousy. Sweary Cat pretended that she was Sylvia's boyfriend and told Romantic Bison to back off. Romantic Bison backed off. Largely because he failed to notice that Sweary Cat was not a tom, but a con. It's so difficult to tell with cats, isn't it?
However, all this Shakespearian subterfuge and high dramatic irony finally resolved itself and everyone lived happily ever after. Or did they? Our Romantic Bison is utterly bereft.
"Oh Sweary Cat, my life is over."
"My heart is literally broken."
"Literally? It's not, though, is it. Not literally, it's just a metaphor."
"Oh, Sweary! I literally can't handle your grammatical corrections right now."
"You kids need to talk. It's all a misunderstanding."
"Is love really worth all this trouble Sylvia?"
"For me it is."
"You 're so deluded by the movies. But I guess you've found someone as equally deluded as you, and if that's not love I don't know what is."
Once more so much of the comedy comes through in the cartooning, Sweary Cat's unimpressed eyes or disapproving frown juxtaposed against the boo-hooing bull's flood of free-flowing tears or Sylvia's rose-tinted hearts. And in spite of its seemingly throwaway comedy, Lunney nails so much about friendships when someone starts playing the dating game.
"Obviously we can only feel smug as a couple if there is someone single nearby for us to offend!"
Or did I mean the grating game?