Review: The Rabbi’s Cat

I’m not a fan of organized religion, and by extension, works of fiction with religion as a central topic. So despite the accolades this graphic novel had received, I wasn’t exactly rushing to the bookstore to grab a copy. But I’m glad I did, because it really delivers on all levels.

Joann Sfar’s art took a while for me to warm up to, but on every page there’s something new – a detail, a sight gag, a different technique – that proves he’s an illustrator at the top of his game. And the story…wow. It’s poignant, charming, funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and meaningful. Sfar uses the characters of an old Rabbi in Algeria, his daughter, and his cat (who gains the gift of speech after eating the Rabbi’s parrot) to masterfully ruminate on the nature of religion and Judaism, human nature, philosophy, and relationships. And just when you think that the subject may be getting a bit too deep or heady, he very naturally and organically interjects subtle humor into the narrative.

Through the pages of this book, I traveled to Algeria and Paris in the 1930s, saw human foibles through the eyes of a smart-ass cat, and fell in love with the central characters. A truly fantastic work of sequential art and storytelling. Sfar has a sequel to this book, and I’m looking forward to reading it as well.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Netherworlds #1

My trip down memory lane with the non-fantasy books from Adventure Publications concludes with a look at the cover to Netherworlds #1:

Cover painting by Iain McCaig.

Published in August, 1988, this was the only issue of the series published, and one of the last books from Adventure Publications. Well, that is before they were “acquired” by Malibu comics, and made into an imprint for crappy licensed books like Planet of the Apes and Alien Nation.

I don’t remember much it, other than it was set in the modern world, and followed a supernatural theme. The interior art by Gabriel Morrissette was quite pleasing, though. It was written by Adventure mainstay (for the time, at least), Mark Ellis.