Review: Cat's Café: A Comics Collection by Matt Tarpley

A recent addition to my bookshelf is the first Cat’s Café comic collection by Matt Tarpley. A gentle comic, Cat’s Café is renowned for its exploration of mental illness and the message that a little bit kindness can go a very long way--whether it's being kind to others, or kind to oneself. The comic has created some memorable characters in Cat, the kind and wise owner of the café, anxiety ridden Rabbit and coffee dependent Penguin just to name a few. (And Kiwi, of course. How could any self-respecting fan forget Kiwi?) 

I have been a huge fan of Cat's Café for a long time now, to the point where I've probably shared one comic or two too many on Instagram or Facebook. Reading through the collection I soon discovered that although each individual comic is beautifully drawn and well written, and offers a positive message, the collection soon becomes a little too sweet. I think I would have liked a bit more of Kiwi's antics with the knife, which was conspicuously absent from the collection. But maybe that isn't what the author and publisher intended for this particular volume. Ultimately, though, the comics offer a positive message without getting bogged down in politics or details. (For example, the characters are always known as what animal they are, and their genders are entirely irrelevant. Cat, Rabbit, et all could just as easily be male, female or non-binary. And it really doesn't matter one iota.) 

Most of the comics are pretty similar to this one:

Note the gentle storytelling, themes of kindness and helping others. And the subtle colour change the final pane. 

Overall, Cat's Café is a lovely concept and this book is an excellent resource to keep on the beside table for when things are well, not quite right.



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