Book review: Catland Empire by Keith Jones
Published by Drawn & Quarterly, 184 pp, $32.95, softcover
A pair of reptilian aliens plans to destroy the known universe by driving the Earth into the sun. How can they be stopped? By pre-emptively blowing up the planet, of course. But first all the people of Earth must be evacuated to the Great Plain at the Bottom of the Universe. This won't be an easy task, since humankind is quickly killing itself off, thanks to Victor Burg and his three-million-strong army of microchip-implanted drones. And that's where the cats come in.
That's the plot of Keith Jones's new graphic novel Catland Empire. Well, part of the plot, at any rate. Did I mention that the cats' job, as assigned to them by the creator of the universe and his assistants Mr. Space and Mr. Time, is to feed the humans genetically altered hot dogs that will convince them that playing games is more important (and more fun) than systematically slaughtering one another?
It's all a bit dizzying, a psychedelic mashup of quantum theory, metaphysics, science fiction, and Saturday-morning-cartoon anthropomorphism. Victoria-born Torontonian Jones has a way with humorously convoluted pseudo-scientific language. (Example: "A rival study in subspace environmental capability exists within the realm of universal spacetime.") He has an equally sure hand with drawing, and he has illuminated Catland Empire with garish, acid-trip panels that sit somewhere between Hanna-Barbera and outsider folk art.
I'm tempted to call this book brilliant, but I'm not sure I totally understand it.