The Webcomic Overlook #38: Meet the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats (printed book)

It seems I have allies in my legendary crusade against the notion that I Can Has Cheeseburger? is a webcomic. Recently, The Digitial Strips Show Podcast devoted the first part of their segment discussing the controversy over T. Campbell’s rankings, where the ubiquitous website that hosts pet photos with somewhat humorous captions has somehow become the Number One Webcomic Site. The Digital Strips crew came to a unanimous decision: despite their visual similarities, LOLCats are just not webcomics. I especially liked how one of the commentators equated ICHC? with a bathroom wall with pictures of cats on it.

The critics among you may now be saying, “El Santo, you fiend! The only reason you hate ICHC? is because, deep down inside, you are an enemy of cats!”

Lies! Why would I ever hate anything with those adorable beady green eyes, those delicate paws with pointy talons, and a voice that sounds like the chorus of a hundred demons?

Seriously, though, while I don’t have any cats of my own, my girlfriend, or rather her mother, has three cats at her house, and they’re all quite affectionate. Irony of ironies, though, my girlfriend is allergic to cats, and she hates it when I get cat hair all over my nice cashmere sweaters. So maybe you’re on to something: perhaps I’m a bit gruff toward websites featuring kitty photos because, deep down inside, I’m a self-hating closet cat lover.

(Get your heads out of the gutter, people. That’s NOT what I meant.)

So, to show some good faith to cat lovers everywhere, today’s Webcomic Overlook reviews a series that features laugh-out-loud cats that actually qualifies as a webcomic … I think. Today, I review the comic that combines internet memes with illustrations of cats who are also hobos, Adam Koford’s Laugh-Out-Loud Cats.

The comic is a series of one panel gag strips featuring two homeless anthropomorphic felines in patchy jackets and snazzy bow ties. The larger, presumably older one, Kitteh, is averse toward gainful employment and is a connoisseur of good stogies. The small one, Pip, is fearful of baths and an avid collector of leaves. The strips come with a fictional backstory: supposedly, they were created by Adam’s grandfather, Aloysius “Gorilla” Koford, who published the strip between 1912-1913 in 17 newspapers. (Of course, there are may strips where, even in this frame work, it can’t possibly be true.)

Pip and Kitteh generally engage in all sorts of old timey shenanigans. They stow away on trains, boil cheap stew, and get into and break out of prisons. As they travel the vast expanse of this fair country with only a knapsack in hand, they visit many places and experience many things, some of which are clearly in defiance with the laws of physics.

Also, if you haven’t yet caught on, Kitteh and Pip speak entirely in the language of internet memes. Yes, exactly like the ones you’d find in Impact text and inserted into photos of house cats. The implication, of course, is that an army of cat owners has unknowingly tapped into the linguistic genius of long forgotten “Gorilla” Koford.

It’s a concept that’s undeniably so brilliant that you’re surprised no one had thought of it first. After all, early comic strips were always coming up with bizarre manglings of the English language. “I has a corm” isn’t that far removed from or more understandable, really, than Krazy Kat‘s “Ah-h-h- ‘Ignatz’ is nigh – L’il Ainjil.

Koford’s a decent old school cartoonist. I love how he illustrates the cats’ heads, which are simple, yet feel rounded and fuzzy. The strips never truly look like the ultra-minimalist strips of old. Instead, they’re wonderfully detailed, filled with backgrounds, costumes, and characters that inhabit a world embodied an innocent, Charlie Chaplinesque view of poverty. In any case, the illustrations always easy on the eyes. From time to time, he also likes to play around with the format and breaks the fourth wall of the comic strip itself.

Half the joy of Laugh-Out-Loud Cats is trying to figure out the next internet meme Koford will try his hand at, and how he’ll shoe-horn the jokes into the strip’s turn-of-the-20th-century setting. Everything’s delightfully silly, and Laugh-Out-Loud-Cats has been constantly enjoyable for a woefully incurable internet addict like me.

However, there are only so many times you can read “O Hai!” or “I Can Has It?” before it becomes tired. (On the other hand, Jokes about stew never get old.) I suppose I could review the entirety of the online webcomic some day. There are over 700 strips right now, though, and the fact that I found the sampling in the book to be a little repetitive is not exactly encouraging my appetite for Laugh-Out-Loud Cats. Additionally, the archives for the strip is atrocious. Everything’s posted in Flikr, which has its advantages and many, many drawbacks.

Laugh-Out-Loud Cats, though, makes the leap from “perfectly acceptable and reasonably enjoyable web comic” to “genuinely mind-blowingly excellent artifact to be preserved for future generations” with the release of the Meet the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats paperback.

I first heard about the book after reading a very positive review at the AV Club, and soon after, Laugh-Out-Loud Cats became the only webcomic that I own in book form. I cannot emphasize enough how much of a rarity this is. Why pay for something you can get for free, amirite? However, have you ever had those days when the demon of modern consumerism (which, I understand, has a rather feline appearance) ever latched its claws on to your cerebellum and refused to let go until you caved in to its seductive yowls and pressed the “Buy” button? I hear an exorcism is good for that. The book, though, delivers plenty of bang for your buck, so hitting the “Buy” button’s not that bad of an option, either.

Meet the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats resembles a long, forgotten collection of comic strips only recently rescued from a library book sale. Check out this utterly charming photo of the book’s “ripped” back cover:

If you can’t read the text, there’s a crossed out stamp at the bottom that reads “Inland Empire Municipal Library System” while the book’s price looks like it was hand-written by a very officious librarian. The spine has authentic-looking white creases and the cover bears artificial dog ears of a book that has been open, closed, and neglected many, many times.

And the fun doesn’t stop there. To keep up the charade, the Laugh-Out-Loud book expands on the strip’s fictional back history. There’s a note from the publisher. (“p.s. A note regarding the characters. Pip is the little one. Kitteh is the big one. They are filthy hoboes.”) “Gorilla” Koford includes some hastily scrawled author notes. (“Pip has a secret. It will not be revealed in this volume. If ever.”) And there are some random illustrations of leaves, including the elusive invisible leaf. The extras add to Laugh-Out-Loud Cat‘s timeless yet modern charm.

But I know, in the back of your mind, you’re still saying, “$14.95 for a paperback? Are you mad! You must be smoking fat stacks of cash at home. Probably in denominations of $100. The worn copy of Mike Resnick’s Santiago that I picked up from Half-Price books was easily only 20% the cost of your fake vintage book with pictures of cats!”

Well, look at it this way: think of the book in terms of a replica vintage t-shirt. (Like a very 80’s t-shirt I own that prominently features Optimus Prime, which I, uh, don’t really wear for ironic reasons.) Meet the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats is kinda like that ironic t-shirt. You can advertise your insufferable hipsterness by placing the book on your coffee table or on a display stand. It says, loud and proud, “I am a man (or woman) of culture!”, winning you friends and influencing people.

Do you really think you can get the same sort of reaction with a genuinely abused book? If you place a worn paperback straight out of the used book store on that very same coffee table, the first thought crossing any visitor’s mind will be, “Cripes, where does this guy hide his modeling paint?”

Besides, you’ll be supporting Adam Koford’s insane webcomic experiment, which deserves to continue as long as the world keeps generating lame internet memes. An finally, the book actually is much easier to follow than the online counterpart, which painfully involves digging through a Flickr library or navigating the blog’s archives.

So surrender to your demons! If your daddy’s rich, pick up a copy of Meet the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats today. If your daddy’s poor, no only can you do what you feel, but you can also enjoy Laugh-Out-Loud Cats for free online. You don’t have to be a big fan of the I Can Has A Cheeseburger? site to enjoy it. You’ll have fun as long as you have a vague familiarity with some of the weird sentence constructions floating around on the internet.

Final opinion? Laugh-Out-Loud Cats is full of win.

Trust me, it’s much funnier than my pathetic attempts at meme-inspired humor.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

NOTE: Speaking of the AV Club, that site is chock full of fun and interesting articles. Check out this stomach-churning taste test review about a cheeseburger in a can. Its awesome LOL-worthy subtitle when it was on the AV Club front page? “I HAS CAN CHEESEBURGER.”


About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on March 16, 2008, in 5 Stars, all ages webcomic, comedy webcomic, funny animal webcomic, single panel webcomic, The Webcomic Overlook, WCO Big Review, webcomics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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  1. Pingback: Digital Strips: The Webcomics Podcast

  2. Pingback: Te Joi Of Webcomicz: Sum moar webcomicz stuf « The Webcomic Overlook

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