Thursday, November 22, 2007

Alias the Cat - Random House request review

Imagine how excited I was when I received an email from Random House, UK.
But it wasn't what I could have wished for.
The email read: I’m getting in touch about Alias the Cat : the latest weird and totally wonderful graphic narrative by Kim Deitch, who has been creating comics since 1967. It’s a kaleidoscopic read; full of mistaken identities, disguises, explosions and insidious plots, and is of course rendered in Deitch’s inimitable style.
Random House asked if I was interested in writing a review.

I said yes, but on receipt of the book found myself in unfamiliar territory.
Here is my review:
I’m not a comics reader, so reading Kim Deitch's graphic narrative, Alias the Cat, was a new experience for me.
Unlike a standard novel, where the reader’s mind is allowed free-rein to conjure images of scenes, characters and events, Deitch’s black and white artwork depicts each and every setting and action in infinite detail.
When reading Alias the Cat, the reader’s imagination quickly becomes redundant.
Furthermore; Deitch’s characters resemble cardboard cut-outs which are replicated from page to page and the faces look like duplicated copy-and-paste postings. Though some characters carry smiles, most of the faces wear troubled, shocked or pained expressions.
For me, Deitch’s artwork, though interesting in its sheer volume, lacks vibrancy, and carries a negative overall impression.
As to the storyline; Alias the Cat is a hotchpotch of weird events loosely connected by the appearance of feline characters/dolls and/or a skin-tight cat costume. The narrative rambles between seeming fact, fiction and psychedelic imaginings.
The story-line comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. It lacks punch and verve and tends to repetition and the dialogue is sadly dated reflecting the voice of an ageing writer.
Alias the Cat is devoid of subtlety and it completely misses the boat to my (Australian) sense-of-humour department.
Although the book’s jacket could be misconstrued as the cover of a comic book for kids, Alias the Cat is certainly not a children’s book.
Deitch’s themes are definitely adult and this graphic publication could only appeal to the unimaginative reader.


grace said...

If you are not familiar with Kim Deitch and his Graphic Novels and are unaware that Deitch is a master of the genre, then your voice must be one of an ageing critic/reviewer.

The innovative use of drawing, using luminous blacks and whites to create fantastically beautiful and bizarre forms, leads the viewer to greater not lesser imaginative leaps. The design of the pages, the patterning of lights and darks and the idiosyncratic characters bring our all too human foibles to life in an original,refreshing, and non-pedestrian manner.

Margaret Muir said...

Hi Grace,
Thank you for your comment.

You are correct in your assessment.
Yes, I am ageing and I have no excuse for that!

I don't assume to be a critic and am not sure why I was singled out to read and review 'Alias the Cat'.

After reading the book, I went through several reviews of Kim Deitch's works and realised he was widely acclaimed as a master in his field.

Unfortunatley, as I said, his work is not for me - neither his artwork or prose, and I could only comment on it from a personal standpoint.

The world would be a less colourful place if we all thought the same.


grace said...

Dear Margaret,
I apologize for being ageist ( I too am ageing...aren’t we all) but you did use that term in your review of Kim Deitch’s work and that bothered me since I equate ageing with loss of faculties and close mindedeness - and not with numerical age. I hope that make sense.
Thank you for your gracious response.

Margaret Muir said...

Thanks, Grace.
Nice to talk.