- Posted by Johanna on February 11, 2006 at 8:56 pm
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Reed Waller and Kate Worley
- PUBLISHER: NBM; $12.95 US
This unabashedly graphic erotic comic is now back in print. The Complete Omaha the Cat Dancer Volume 1 begins a comprehensive series of collections of the strip that made many readers cross the lines: even if they didn’t read porn or furry animal comics, they read this one, because it was that good, with soap opera that engrossing.
The stories reprinted here are arranged in chronological order according to what’s happening in the comic, beginning with Omaha’s first appearance in 1978. With this linear presentation, the new reader is in on some of the secrets from the beginning, even though they were originally created years apart, with later flashback pieces revealing more of the story. Since specific reprint information isn’t included, I don’t know how far apart, exactly, and that’s the biggest lack in the book. To be truly comprehensive, this volume should have included information on when and where the wide range of reprinted material originally appeared.
I think, discretion being the better part of valor, I won’t say much about the introduction by James Vance. Omaha was liked as much as it was because the fictional love story was created by two halves of a real-life one. When that relationship ended, as they do, so did the series. (Although a newly created conclusion is promised in the eventual last volume, #8, of this project.) Vance says that writer Worley left Waller for him, and it’s very odd having his memories be the first thing the reader sees here. The second introduction, reprinted from a previous edition, is Waller’s, originally written in 1987.
So what’s it about? Omaha’s an exotic dancer and a humanoid cat. She’s new to the city and while finding a job stripping, she bumps into Shelley. Even though Shelley’s some kind of dog, the two quickly hit it off, with Shelley showing Omaha the ropes. The two become roommates as Omaha rises to the top of her profession.
The art quality varies a lot from earlier to later pieces, but Waller’s love for his creation always shines through. The later ones show more facility with line weight and how to spot blacks, but Omaha’s always beautiful because he always sees her, and shows her, that way. She combines soulful innocence with unbridled passion and unfearing sexuality, making her a wonderful fantasy character.
The pieces at the start of the book demonstrate more characterization, answering questions like “how Omaha got her name” and “how’d Omaha handle publication of her centerfold pictures” and “how do Shelley and Omaha spend their evenings”. (Answer: picking up a couple of guys, taking them home, getting high, swapping partners, and then finishing each other off when the guys fall asleep, all graphically and lovingly illustrated. It was a different time.)
The stories created earlier, which come later, are more unfocused in their plotting, losing sight of the relationship drama in a mishmash full of crime conspiracies, double-crosses, and anti-authority jabs. There’s a crackdown on vice at the same time the city fathers are indulging lasciviously in an underground club. Omaha and her boyfriend, artist Chuck Katt, wind up on the run after an orgy, a riot, a drive-by shooting, and a really talky exposition scene with Chuck’s father.
My favorite story, just due to its juxtaposition of subjects, is the one where Omaha’s upset when the Supreme Court rules that nude dancing is not a protected form of expression. She and Chuck debate the issue of free speech while in bed, turning each other on and pleasuring each other. That sums up the appeal of the series right there: two adults who love sex and want to share.