Manfried the Man
Manfried the Man by Caitlin Major and Kelly Bastow features a simple concept. Humanoid cats have little men for pets.
It started, as you might expect, as a gag comic. It’s adorable seeing the roly-poly balding ginger Manfried get tied up in his leash, for example, and realistic that he always wants to be on the other side of a door. (Note that, as the pet men are naked, there are tiny little cartoon private parts visible, but they’re incredibly un-detailed, basically a U shape.) But soon enough, the story gets deeper in surprising ways, to justify the length of a graphic novel.
Steve, Manfried’s owner, struggles at a job he doesn’t enjoy and has trouble socializing. Many of his friends are parents and don’t want to hear about his pet. He needs to learn to clean up after himself and his man.
Steve winds up pet-sitting for a neighbor, despite her concerns about his ability to take care of himself and other living creatures. Then Manfried gets lost, and Steve learns to take responsibility and to avoid jumping to conclusions about other man-owners. During his adventures, Manfried also finds out how to get along with other men.
The translation of man to cat has been thought through well, with cans of “man food” that resemble little hamburgers and the way the men only say “hey!” instead of meow. The underlying story is very familiar, in terms of quarter-life crises and accepting adulthood, but it feels fresher due to the cat-person art, and the way Steve’s emotions come through to the reader. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)