Keeper of the Plans

The Eagle’s comics page is changing. Soon, cats will rule.

Georgia Dunn says she started doing her cats comic strip for friends, then it snowballed into something more.
Georgia Dunn says she started doing her cats comic strip for friends, then it snowballed into something more. Courtesy photo

This just in: Big changes are coming to The Eagle’s comics page.

Sources confirm two new comics will be added starting Monday, which will replace two older ones.

And according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity, cat people will be pleased.

On Monday, Georgia Dunn’s “Breaking Cat News,” an acclaimed internet comic that just recently entered syndication, will start appearing Monday on The Eagle’s comics page, along with Todd Clark’s “Lola.”

Readers will no longer see “Dogs of C-Kennel” or “For Better or For Worse,” which is in reruns.

“Breaking Cat News” is a watercolor-painted comic featuring three cats who report on the “news” that goes on around Dunn’s house, playing on news tropes and cat quirks alike.

The Eagle recently caught up with Dunn, who took a break from life with her three cats – Puck, Lupin and Elvis – to chat about the comic.

Responses have been edited for length.

Q. When did you first start drawing “Breaking Cat News”? What was the inspiration?

A. I started drawing “Breaking Cat News” three years ago this month. I’ve done web comics before, but not with this much success. I went to school for illustration, to go into book illustration – that was the goal. Then I ended up selling prints and such for nursery decor and things like that, but I always had a web comic going on the side. When I started “Breaking Cat News,” it started with a joke – Lupin had knocked everything off a shelf, and the other three cats came over to investigate. Our cat Elvis has a real tattletale meow to him, and I started doing this news broadcast voice, what they’d be doing and what they’d be saying. I thought it was funny. I tweeted a few cat headlines, and friends really liked it. I drew up one strip of it, and friends wanted to know if it would be a new comic. I drew one strip, then two or three, then friends were sharing them. Then total strangers were sharing them. Really, really early on, it seemed there was something there.

Q. Why make them reporter cats?

A. I think because cats seem to take themselves very seriously. Not all cats, but a lot of cats. A lot of people say it’s not that much of a stretch for them to imagine their cats are secretly doing news broadcasts about everything going on. They have this awful reputation of being lazy or mean, but they’re usually very attentive to what is happening in their home.

Q. How do you come up with the ideas for each strip?

A. A lot of them are ripped from the headlines of our own house. The cats will do something or I’ll observe the cats doing or remember cats I had when I was a kid or friends’ cats. What happens is I have notebooks everywhere. I write down a headline, then I’ll flesh it out with notes. I always have notebooks going with headlines and prompts for stories or a snippet of dialogue or something like that. A lot of times, the strips sort of write themselves. It’s kind of a lot of playing pretend on paper with drawing, and it works out very well, thankfully.

Q. How do you find time to draw these strips? Do the cats ever try to interrupt that process?

A. I’m a night owl, so once my kids go down to go to sleep, thankfully they’re both pretty good sleepers. That’s a huge component – I lucked out. When they go to sleep at 8:30 at night, that aspect of my day sort of ends. For the most part, I work on the comics from 8 or 8:30 to about midnight or 1, but I’m a night owl and I’m happy at night. Saturday morning, I typically go to a local coffee shop, and that now is where I do the bulk of the writing. At night is when I ink everything and paint where I need to paint.

Elvis is usually with me – he’s my shadow during the day. He spends the most time with me while I’m working. They’re all very good painters, kitties – we got each of them when they were pretty young, and we were very diligent teaching them not to chase the paintbrushes while we work. It takes a while, but all three of them are very good at it now. They don’t interrupt the paintbrushes too much. Lupin still occasionally does.

Q. People with cats will surely find this funny. But what about people who don’t like cats?

A: I’ve been told by the man himself that the reason I got my (syndication) deal in the first place was that the president of the company is not a cat person. My editor has three cats and she loves her cats, so she was an easy sell when she found the comic, but when she showed it to him, he thought it was really, really funny and he liked it. The thinking behind offering me the development deal was that, if even he liked it, there was maybe something there for everyone. There’s a lot of jokes about news tropes, a lot of sensationalized headlines and Elvis thinking there are conspiracy theories. A lot of general all-ages humor. The cats misunderstand a lot of things because they’re trying to figure out the world.

Matt Riedl: 316-268-6660, @RiedlMatt

Win ‘Breaking Cat News’

To celebrate the launch of her new comic strip, Georgia Dunn and The Wichita Eagle are giving away 10 copies of her book “Breaking Cat News – Cats Reporting on the News that Matters to Cats.”

The 123-page book features comics about the adventures of Elvis, Lupin and Puck.

To enter, send an e-mail with “cat news” in the subject line to contests@wichitaeagle.com. The deadline to enter is midnight on April 2.

Winners will be drawn at random and notified by e-mail.

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