McNee, Graeme – Shioya Neko
Local comics often have a deeper meaning for the people in the area covered, and that is certainly the case in this book. This comic is the silent story of a cat on its travels through Shioya, which is a small town near Kobe, Japan. Several local stores and buildings are featured, and Graeme was nice enough to include a letter with his feelings on those locations to help me along a bit as a reviewer. It’s clear that they’re near and dear to him, but if you’re one of the people reading this who aren’t familiar with the location (and I’m guessing that’s most of you), you’re in luck! It’s also a completely adorable story about a cat wandering around the city and its interactions with the local animals and people. It starts with its casual escape from its home (it was unclear if it was escaping or just an outdoor cat), as it follows a bird, then a bug, and the stumbles across an ominous larger cat. Not to worry though, no violence here, as it then moves along to a charmed (and sleeping) construction worker, an indifferent smoker and a cranky old man who’s just trying to rake some leaves in peace. I’ll leave the rest of the journey for you to discover, but it’s never anything less than thoroughly charming throughout. If you ever find yourself in this part of the world I’d recommend taking this book and do a little walking tour, as it sure looks like Graeme did his research. I should also mention that this originally started out as an exhibition requested by the city, as they wanted a way to showcase the town, and he (wisely) added the cat (which is “Neko” in Japanese) to it. Hey look, you learned something today!