Geist - - Endnotes - —Kelsea O’con­nor

Man­fried the Man by Caitlin Ma­jor and Kelly Bas­tow (Quirk Books) is a mod­ern, heart­warm­ing take on Garfield, with the cat/hu­man roles hi­lar­i­ously in­verted. Based on the pop­u­lar we­b­comic, this graphic novel plays with ideas of mas­culin­ity in a world where peo­ple-sized cats live in a hu­man­like so­ci­ety and keep cat-sized hu­mans as pets. Steve Cat­son is an ir­re­spon­si­ble, down-on-his-luck as­pir­ing car­toon­ist whose joy in life is his pet man, Man­fried. When Man­fried es­capes, Steve must rally the com­mu­nity to bring him home safely. While the cat so­ci­ety mir­rors our own, the charm lies in the clever world-build­ing de­tails— Man­fried be­ing fed tiny ham­burg­ers and whole tur­keys straight from a can, Steve or­ga­niz­ing a “man hunt” to look for the lost Man­fried, and flash­backs to a young, svelte Man­fried with a full head of hair. The pet men steal the show as they get up to the an­tics nor­mally re­served for fe­lines, such as hunt­ing birds with bows and ar­rows, tus­sling with griz­zled strays and be­ing able to un­can­nily tell when it’s din­ner­time. Bas­tow’s char­ac­ter de­sign for each man is a de­light, as each man has a di­verse body shape, colour­ing and ex­pres­sion that adapt com­mon male fea­tures into feline qual­i­ties. It’s also just plain funny to see a car­toon cat snug­gle a small, naked man. Next to the pet men, Steve’s sto­ry­line is a lit­tle tired as it fol­lows the fa­mil­iar trope of an im­ma­ture dude learn­ing to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for his ac­tions to be­come a bet­ter friend and neigh­bour. Although ev­ery pet man is, well, a man, Ma­jor and Bas­tow use this op­por­tu­nity to break from toxic mas­culin­ity and show the men sleep­ing nude in a pile, groom­ing each other, show­ing af­fec­tion, and teach­ing Man­fried bet­ter so­cial skills. Ad­di­tion­ally, each man can only say “hey,” a re­fresh­ing change from mansplain­ers ev­ery­where. This was per­haps what I en­joyed most about the book (be­sides the nov­elty of men as pets): the easy way Ma­jor and Bas­tow imag­ine a world where men— whether it’s a male-iden­ti­fy­ing cat or a cat-sized man—are able to grow into bet­ter peo­ple with­out be­ing shamed for stereo­typ­i­cally fem­i­nine be­hav­iour. Through hu­mour, Ma­jor and Bas­tow model a new type of mas­culin­ity that I’d like to see more of.

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