There have been plenty of cartoon cats who have come gone over the years, and to be honest none of them have ever really appealed to me. Maybe it's because I own and like cats, I find most of the caricatures lacking. For instead of trusting in the natural appeal of the animal, most of them have been given human attributes which might make them cute for some, but just makes them unappealing to me.
So when someone first sent me a link to Simon Tofield's Simon's Cat it took me a while to even bother checking it out. But Tofield takes the opposite tack, with his cat barely beening anthropomorphized at all.
The live action cartoons are simple, black and white, sketch-like drawings. Nothing high-tech about them.
In fact there's not even any dialogue, or at least any in human language. Simon's Cat — he doesn't appear to have any other name — communicates in a series of sounds and noises that will be familiar to any cat owner. These run from the inquisitive chirps he makes when faced with a puzzle, all the way through to the contented purr of the well-fed animal. Somehow, with just this basic vocabulary, and an understanding of cat body language, Tofield has managed to instil his creation with the just the right combination of elements that its behaviour strikes chords of recognition with his viewers.
I'm sure every cat owner watching has at one time or another said a variation on, "That's just like my cat".
How though would the cat make the transition to the printed page? What works with an audio track and animation won't necessarily in the less kinetic media. But as those who have read Simon's Cat: In His Very Own Book and Simon's Cat: Beyond The Fence will know he's just as, if not more, appealing in print as he is on the screen. Up until now the books like the cartoons have been in black and white.