The Cat with a Really Big Head by Roman Dirge

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The Cat with a Really Big Head by Roman Dirge

Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Two hard-to-find oldies from the creator of Lenore, that might struggle to be substantial enough to make you love them, but at least will remind you of the author's macabre sense of life.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 112 Date: June 2015
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781782762874

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How many picture books are there about cats? And how many do you know that you would really NOT prefer your children to see? If the answer to the second question is 'none – yet', scratch that last word. The title piece in this collection is, by the author's own admission, his imagining of the Joseph Merrick (the 'Elephant Man') of the feline world – who struggles to sneak up behind a mouse when the shadow of his head is a total giveaway, and who can hardly even eat with dignity as bending down to his bowl would break his neck. If that's too dark or oddball for you, try the second major piece, which has a most revealing foreword – Dedicated to a certain girl… I hope your life is filled with wonderful accomplishments, love and all the magic you desire… - But I hope your death is slow and horrible.

This piece, a medium-length poem wherein the embodiments of emotions fighting at the loss of a loved one is portrayed, has been coloured for the first time, just as his landmark Lenore collections have been. It's nowhere near as colourful as the similar theme of the Disney/Pixar Inside Out movie, but it never would be. Clearly with a name like Dirge's on the cover the prime colour would be Goth Black, and that's again what we get. The nearest Disney reference is obviously Tim Burton – there's something of his old style, of mixing Poe with Mickey Mouse, here. We see cuteness through a mirror, darkly, and get reminded – with humour, mind – that the sheen of life is only hiding the view of guts, viscera and a nasty fate from us all.

The collection also has a brief interlude that would appear to be new – even if it has a corpse in it. Yes, little changes in the world of Roman Dirge. But just because he has plied one furrow his entire career does not mean we should ignore it, and these works are a long way from Lenore in substance, if not mood. This volume is more of an illustrated book than a graphic novel, strictly, for we get words on one leaf, and the imagery facing it, on the whole. And while the artwork for the weakly-named Cat is hilariously brilliant, and the rhythm of the second piece is nicely sustained, and is pictorialized most expertly, there was a little bit lacking here. It might be because these are older pieces, but the flippancy was to the fore a little too much for my liking. The cat's world was definitely left a little underexplored, and by the end of it all I felt a little like things could have been a bit more substantial. Still, I am in the market for picture books for a 15-and-up audience, such as this, and these two old, presumably hard-to-find (ie resurrected from a suitable grave) pieces, do go some way to creating such.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

For an equally interesting, but very different, graphic novel about an extraordinary feline, we recommend I Was the Cat by Paul Tobin and Benjamin Dewey.

Buy The Cat with a Really Big Head by Roman Dirge at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Cat with a Really Big Head by Roman Dirge at

Buy The Cat with a Really Big Head by Roman Dirge at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Cat with a Really Big Head by Roman Dirge at


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