Fantastical creatures with enigmatic expressions get me every time. This time I was in Austin’s Austin Books checking out their minicomics after hitting the surprisingly quality half-off shelves when the winged monkey from Toastycats 2 practically flew into my face. I dug through the shelf until I spied the lemur-monsters of #1. After a cursory flip-through I decided to buy both.
Toastycats #1 includes some fun sketches, including a wolfman in black tie, a bowl of steamed mussels, and “Leonard Cohen’s monkey,” a few short stories and a serial in one-pagers called Meet the Vermins. Meet the Vermins is by far the weakest part of Toastycats. The drawing looks slapdash compared to the rest of the work and the story, such that it is, is unfunny. The rest of the comic shows off Boreysza’s grasp of nuance. “Horse’s Tears” is a funny story-in-a-spread about a horse with friends disguised as enemies. The horse’s limpid eye and dripping tear really shows the hurt! The last story, “Laika,” is an imaginative tale of dog mythology, specifically, the story of the dog that went into space and didn’t come back. It is pitch perfect and the last panel casts a surprisingly light on the story’s world.
Toastycats #2’s content is similar to #1, but the short stories tip the balance toward creepy. In both “A Word of Advice” and “The Seed Part 1” Boreysza does a great job of ratcheting the tension up panel by panel. Her human (or humanoid) characters are only one step away from the bizarre animals she creates which has the effect of making the atmosphere in her longer stories decidedly dreamlike.
I can’t wait for more from this Edinburghian. Hopefully next time I won’t have to go all the way to Texas to get it.