To creators, books that make them think about their own work in a new way is a precious thing. Ron Wimberly’s Prince of Cats unexpectedly did just that for me. When I bought Prince of Cats, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. It’s a visually beautiful book that rethinks Romeo and Juliet and urban violence/life by merging all of that with Samurai Wu-Tang Clan stylings and winking references to Akira. The thing that bothered me about the Prince of Cats and forced me to confront my own work was that it is written in a kind of Old(er) English.
In college, as part of an English Literature class, we were given a copy of the The Canterbury Tales to read. Something unlikely for me at the time, I started reading the book early, it was kinda interesting. As it turned out, the university bookstore had ordered the wrong version that was written in a version of English that was not old enough and the Professor made blatant threats that we should not read the original versions we’d bought. This meant that I had to restart reading a book in what was to me as a foreign language – I never finished it and actually ended up liking it less. So, when I started reading Prince of Cats, these were the flashbacks I immediately started having. I found myself drifting off when things did not immediately make sense to me and I dreaded the pages with large amounts of text to read.
But something that occurred to me in my of my avoiding-to-think-too-hard daydreams was that I also had in fact written a comic in difficult to understand English. My own Butterfly Industrial had in fact not only had nudity and chicks that kicked ass but it was written in a kind of future speak that I invented for the story. I’d loved writing it at the time as a way of flexing my own brain muscles but also trying to set a mood and create a new and hopefully interesting world. But now, having actually finished Prince of Cats and remembered my own Canterbury Tales horrors, I don’t know how successful I or Wimberly was.