Review: Redrawn, Reformatted, Ridiculously Funny! The Return Of ‘Star Cat’

Welcome to the new adventures of the Star Cat! And welcome back to the silliness and brilliance of James Turner’s creation, where Captain Spaceington is out to save the day once more… except we all know it’s going to go completely, hilariously, ridiculously wrong!

But yes, I did say the NEW adventures. Well, sort of. Even though these are the storylines from the previously published Star Cat Book 01 written and drawn by James Turner, this newly reformatted book, in that ever-so familiar to young comic readers digest format has been completely redrawn by new artist Yasmin Sheikh.

We’ll get back to that at the end. But first, you really need to know what it is that makes Star Cat so darned silly and such ridiculous fun.

First of all, this is The Star Cat and these are its crew…

It was a feature of The Phoenix Comic since the preview issue zero, many, many years ago, and from the off, Star Cat was wonderfully silly stuff, all about Turner’s ridiculously madcap sense of comedy timing all through.

These are the voyages of the Star Cat, (yep, a spaceship that’s a cat. Or a cat that’s a spaceship?), its ongoing mission to explore the mysteries of the Universe. Its crew as brave and fearless and impressive as its Captain is courageous….

Or perhaps not. Perhaps it’s simply the misadventures of a gang of idiots and self-deluded fools somehow managing to stay alive and miraculously, usually despite themselves, saving the universe.

Meet the crew; Captain Spacington, (implausibly) the commander of the Star Cat, desperate to be a hero, rarely coming anywhere near. Science Officer Plixx would be perfect for her job onboard if it weren’t for two things; having no clue about anything scientific and having very little clue about anything else. Still, at least Plixx is enthusiastic, as opposed to Robot One, whose self-delusion is only bettered by his vanity.

Finally, there’s the Pilot. Oh, the pilot’s fabulous…

Yes, what he said (although part of the fun is working out the code and getting the joke – go on, give it a try – not too hard at all and worth the effort).

See how much fun you’re going to have with Star Cat? Absolutely hilarious stuff.

Their adventures are ridiculous, their opponents silly, but Turner’s writing, along with Sheikh’s artwork just keeps all the comedy coming, both of them masterful in that control of how to structure a gag, whether they’re facing the threat of Dark Rectangle and his army of mutant hexagons on the planet Inflatia as he attempts to deflate the universe, or transporting the final five specimens of cute overload Nubchicks to the space zoo the misadventures of the Star Cat are funny, funny things.

And then there’s the dire threat of ‘Mecha-Dracula’, draining planets of their energy (the Star Cat answer – their very own garlic sauce condiment cannon) and wonder who on Earth thought this group of fools would be the ideal guards for the priceless artwork the ‘Moona Lisa’. There’s more, of course, but you get the idea – ridiculous and funny.

All the way through Star Cat you’re going to have a huge smile on your face, with the gags coming thick and fast, with Turner’s writing and Sheikh’s new artwork filling the pages with all sorts of funny – action gags, visual gags, dialogue gags.

And that’s what makes Star Cat so darned clever. With comedy comics there’s so much work that has to get something to just simply work this effortlessly on the page, and Turner and Sheikh really have it all down so well.

Here’s a classic little example of what I mean, as Captain Spaceington and the crew are tasked with transporting the final 5 Nubchicks, the cutest yet dumbest animals in the universe (although the crew of the Star Cat could give them a run for their money on that.)

Turner and Sheikh set it up and hit us with the gags…

There’s so much going on in there, so many different little comedy elements at play. The setup, the Nubchick into the ‘space blender’ at the same time as the other one dives into the ‘space toaster’, the dramatic pause and the single feather on Spaceington’s helmet as the gag is delivered, where you can see the cogs whirring in his head.

And then you turn the page and you get the extra payoff, after the gag was delivered, the deadpan line so perfect.

But they’re not finished there. Why give us a one-two of a gag when you can add a third? And that’s what happens in the next panel, the third part of the gag, adding more and more silly into the mix…

Okay, I’m thinking you all get the point now? Star Cat manages to be so funny because it’s so cleverly put together.

Now, before I leave you to go out and buy the book, a quick mention of the surprise I had seeing the creative team and the addition of Yasmin Sheikh to the artwork, where previously it was just James Turner writing and drawing it all. As I said at the start, this is the entire first book of The Star Cat completely redrawn by Sheikh from those original Turner pages, same stories, just redrawn and reformatted for this digest size book.

However, it’s only really when you compare the two that you actually see the extent of what Sheikh has brought to Star Cat.

Here’s just HALF a page from the original collection…

Now, first of all, formatting necessities meant that the first panel doesn’t work – it’s actually the payoff to the gag set up on the last page and should have been there, something they fix here in this digest version.

Also, see there in panel four, where the explanation of the gag of another dead Nubchick is presented in the top half of the panel before the actual action of the gag takes place at the bottom half of the panel.

And now, here’s the reformatted version of just FIVE panels from that original half-page and presenting them in this new format, with Sheikh expanding them to eight panels instead of the five…

And it’s glorious. It’s absolutely glorious. It opens everything up so well, expands the comedy, gets the timing exactly right, and just lets the gags breathe.

Oh yes, the skill of Turner’s stories and comedy is in setting up these ridiculous 1-2-3 punches of comedy and now Sheikh’s art and the reformatting have allowed them much more space to stretch things out, to hit you with the punchline(s), enabling the comedy timing more space. It makes it so much better than it was before – and before, it was pretty damn good in the first place!

So, just as it always was… Star Cat is ridiculous, manic gaggery turned up to 11. And now it’s testament to BOTH Turner and Sheikh’s cleverness and comedic knowledge that this continued gaggery never gets tired, never gets boring, the crew of the Star Cat will have you smiling from first page to last. A great, great comedy comic, just looking fresher and smarter than ever!

One last thing… one last gag… who can’t giggle at a duck bomb?

So, what are you waiting for?

Star Cat Book 1, written by James Turner, illustrated by Yasmin Sheikh and published by David Fickling Books and The Phoenix

 

Welcome to the new adventures of the Star Cat! And welcome back to the silliness and brilliance of James Turner’s creation,COMICONRead More

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