Wednesday, February 06, 2008

WWWednesday: Samson the Cat

WWWednesday: Samson the Cat
by Edward J. Grug, III

I love my cats, and I don't feel like saying so threatens my masculinity. Further, despite my rampant desire to eat as many different kinds of animals as possible (thank you, Brazilian barbeque), my cats have taught me that animals have personalities and emotions. Although I acquired Amazo and Adora a few months apart, and Amazo came from the pound while Adora had already been somewhat domesticated, I've essentially "raised" them the same. Still, their respective personalities have developed over the years into two totally different identities, to the point that I can identify who might've puked based on where the mess is. Also, and this is the primary empathetic indicator for me, cats seem to go to great lengths to get comfortable. Watch a cat flop about on a blanket for ten minutes before settling into an apparently comfortable position and dare yourself not to assign their process some semblance of conscious emotion.

Of course, domesticated cats like mine are perhaps the most spoiled animals on the planet, so the fact that they have the time and place to flop about in such a way might place them at an unnatural advantage.

Edward Grug's Samson the Cat definitely betrays emotion: envy, anger, arousal, and of course, curiosity. I discovered Samson during my weekly web-surfing for comics, and I found his portal through Webcomics Nation. Samson currently stars in six exclusive adventures, ranging from several pages' worth of material to a simple few panels' worth of the set-up/punchline formula, and though I was initially put off by the introductory story's crude language -- not that I'm against crude language, but that its use seemed to be the punchline, like, "Look! Farm animals are swearing!" -- I found the rest of the series supremely chuckle-worthy. "The Picnic" and "Content Kitty" were the most brief but the most clever of the batch, proving that Grug's best storytelling style is the one-two punch, rather than his more ambitious multi-parters. Still, as I've explained, I think I understand cats, so I'm familiar with their tenacity, too.

The most interesting aspect of Samson the Cat is Grug's art style. His creature characters remind me a lot of what I saw in Social Vermyn (which seems doomed to Infinite Reference since it was the first webcomics I reviewed), utilizing heavy outlines and computer-generated hues. Yet his backgrounds are distinctly and purposefully childlike, drawn with textured crayon-like lines. The coloring is practically messy, not in a distracting or unprofessional way, but definitely in an unsolid stroke. In that first strip, "The Band," the look contrasts the animals' crude language, which may have been the cause for my initial discomfort. Since the rest of the strips are somewhat more playful, the style very much grew on me, though the last strip, "Bathtime," is void of this colorful detail. Grug's line work is competent, but I think his illustrative strength lies in that contrasting style.

So, the bottom line: Samson the Cat is essentially what Jim Davis' U.S. Acres would have been like if a truly pissed Garfield had been unleashed on their unsuspecting way of life. You do remember U.S. Acres, right? Well, good -- because Samson is just a little bit better . . . and he obviously flopped around a bit to get there.

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