cover image Penny: A Graphic Memoir

Penny: A Graphic Memoir

Karl Stevens. Chronicle, $19.95 trade paper (156p) ISBN 978-1-4521-8305-3

“Am I in denial that I am living in a prison?” muses Penny, the pet cat of Stevens (The Winner), in this gracefully drawn, intermittently amusing “graphic memoir” imagined from the feline’s perspective. Penny reveals her philosophical inner life along with her deeply mercurial nature, and the humor stems from this duality. She contrasts her days living on the streets as a stray with her present life as a seemingly domesticated house cat, forever torn between longing for the “glory of the next grand adventure” and her comfortable day-to-day with her humans (whom she observes with mild disdain). For example, she fantasizes about murdering a seagull perched outside, but moments later mentions she doesn’t need more than “eighteen hours of windowsill sleeping” to be happy. Stevens employs his detailed and stylistic realism to nice comic effect, especially during a flight of fancy when Penny imagines herself traversing another dimension, “one with the cosmos.” The emphasis on Penny’s feral impulses results in a kind of satire of the typical cat-humor collection (“Am I watching the people sleep to be sure they’re ok? Or am I waiting for them to die so I can eat them?”). Stevens’s clever send-up should delight the feline faithful. Agent: Meg Thompson, Thompson Literary. (Apr.)