When people think of Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow, they generally think of heaving, soul-retching vocals, spasmodic stage moves, broken-bottle lyrics and, of course, groin origami. But unabashed Feline Adoration? Up till now, I would’ve guessed that the only connection between Yow and cats is that he catches them down by the railroad tracks and grinds them up, fur and all, to make his homemade bologna. And that he probably uses kitty litter as a sort of “dry” shampoo. But as this book of his cat cartoons demonstrates, behind the lead singer’s twistedly sinister persona there lies, somewhat like William Burroughs, a cat lover. That’s a twist more surprising than any of the balloon animals that he’s tied his genitals into over the years.
But if you’re imagining a collection of darkly sardonic and deeply haunting Hieronymus Bosch-like cat-populated illustrations, banish the thought. The only word that applies here is: CUTE. These are simple, one-panel color cartoon illustrations that work off of cat-themed puns and they’re simply as cute as a bug’s ear. No getting around it. It is not an exaggeration to say that each of these could seriously be used for a line of cute greeting cards for people of the cat fancier persuasion.
So now we know that the feral, naked, screaming punk rock man with the dark motives has a soft fuzzy Hallmark card side to him to rival any of the packaged tenderness that a Taylor Swift can offer up. Life just got weirder by a notch or two.
My only complaint is—probably in keeping with my Luddite leanings—the obvious “digital art” feel that the illustrations have. I would be much happier if Yow would get out of Photoshop, get some actual paints and canvases, and use real hairballs coughed up by his cats for his brushes. But I’m not going to be presumptuous enough to tell an artist how to work his magic, particularly an artist who seems capable, at any second, of suddenly lunging at me and ripping my Adam’s apple out of my throat with his sharp yellow teeth.
We are lucky to find ourselves in a universe so prone to barfing up things of genuine oddness from time to time. And Copycat is one such thing. This book is, I’m sure, bound for a hallowed spot in the Museum of the Odd, alongside GG Allin’s touching letters to his mom, Michael Jackson’s false nose, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s mummified penis collection. –Aphid Peewit (Akashic Books, akashicbooks.com)