From the Vault: Cats Trio:
In the past I have mentioned friends Jesse Glenn & Mike Davis who I started drawing comics with in middle school. These guys were and are like my brothers. We developed so many concepts in just a few years, that it would take us our lives to develop and publish just the good ones. Freshman year of high school, Mike had a comic idea called Cats that was then handed off to me. I narrowed down the characters to just three distinct personalities (based on us and a mutual friend Nick) and renamed the idea "Cats Trio". Not long after I offered it to Jesse, who could draw better than me. Jesse added his own character, a raccon named Max that he had made using the Turtles RPG on a Boy Scout Camping Trip we were on together.
The entire concept was a blatant TMNT homage. We all loved the Turtles and wanted to do our own spin on it: a lab doing animal bio-resarch mutating animals into more anthropomorphic beings for military work has a massive explosion. Two of the subjects: a raccoon & a mountain lion escape through the side of the blown out building. The effects of the explosion also mutate 3 stray cats in the alley outside the building. The cats, naive and playful, meet the raccoon and find they have a common enemy, the mountain lion named Claw. They train together and are fighting & on the run from their foe all while trying to remain hidden from human eyes Below are the 11 unfinished pages Jesse drew back in 1990-91 (which he recently uncovered in a box).
Unfortunately, we never got past those 11 pages...but the idea didn't die. At various points in high school Jesse and I would hand the idea back and forth me writing, him drawing or me drawing and him writing...even breaking Max out into his own prequel book.
As high school ended, I wanted to give Cats another shot on my own. I redid & honed down some of the original pages into a single page with the idea of taking over the art duties, but I never got past this single page & pinup.
In college I did two Beatles cover spoof images: Help & Let It Be.
A few other times in college (1995-2000) Jesse and I had aspirations of bringing back the comic that brought us working together (cats was one of at least 20 projects we conceived, wrote, drew, and played with). Jesse, influenced by a re-watching of Robotech, did some fun redesigns. This was followed by a massive rewrite session where we looked over the first Cats story ideas and honed them into a four issue outline with two other story arcs planned. I wrote the first issue, but no pages were ever produced, and this would be the last big push we had together to make Cats Trio into a comic
The cats would creep into the margins of my notebooks, on scrap paper, on notepads at work, etc. While I think I knew the TMNT ripoff would never work as a real comic project, it was a part of my history with three good friends. It was a constatnt thread running through our own adventures together, and drawing them or redesigning the characters was similar to calling the real friends just to say "hello".
Post graduation, I was living in an apartment where three stray cats kept hiding under cars in the parking lot that were warm. They especially liked getting up on the wheels under the fenders of my 1974 VW Beetle. I decided to do a Cats Trio concept piece as though the characters were really animals, there was no mutation( just some human-like intellect) while being hunted in a rural area by a mountain lion. I like the idea, and feel it has better legs of becoming a real project than the original incarnation ever did, but by removing the anthro-angle, it removed a lot of what felt magical about it in nostalgia terms.
The most recent finished image I did of the Cats Trio was about 8 years ago as a "Happy New Year" to Jesse, Mike, & Nick.
However, after Jesse uncovered the original comic and I pawed through the folder with the rest of this artwork (and more) I have a feeling I'll take another stab of doing some Cats Trio artwork just for fun. I hope to get Jesse Glenn to do some as well and we will both share it here. Nothing like saying "hello" to these old friends again.
Marc Lehner sent these to me via a friend of his at the Baltimore Comic Con. They are mice from the campaign he is playing of the Mouse Guard RPG. I like that in both the drawings there is a sense of history: "The Brothers of Pebblebrook" sounds as though these two already have a reputation for themselves & the architectural details on the other piece suggests an aesthetic all it's own. Thanks Marc!