The Opal Octopus

Reading and reviews by the Indian Ocean

Review: I Was The Cat by Paul Tobin


I Was The Cat
by Paul Tobin

Illustrator: Benjamin Dewey
Published by Oni Press
on August 6th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Review: I Was The Cat by Paul Tobin
Synopsis: Allison Breaking is a talented journalist with her own blog and a lot of bills to pay. So when she receives an offer from a mysterious stranger named Burma to write his memoirs, it's an offer she can't refuse, not even with all the red flags popping up. But Burma is quite literally unlike any man Allison's ever known - because he's a cat! And this cat has stories to tell about how he (over the course of a few lifetimes) has shaped the world - and another, darker story that Allison must risk all to uncover... a story of what this particular cat has been doing with the LAST of his nine lives.


Paul Tobin’s graphic novel I Was the Cat is a bit of a change from his Marvel and Plants vs Zombies offerings.

Allison Breaking, blogger for Breaking News (geddit?), is called to ghostwrite the memoir of mysterious character called “Burma”. She turns up at his mysterious house, where she is let in by his plummy butler Cardiff. While perusing the beautiful artwork on the walls, she hears her name – apparently from nowhere. Burma turns out to be a cat – but you knew that from the cover copy.

black woman staring closely at a cat. The cat is saying - Shall we get to business, or would you like to be bewildered some more? The woman - You're a CAT!

As the memoir unfolds, Allison learns that he is a megalomaniacal cat on his ninth life, looking to go out with a bang.

Bejamin Dewey’s art is enjoyable and serves the story well, with detailed backgrounds and a consistent colour scheme that creates the right atmosphere, with a changing palette to help indicate the historical sequences. Best of all, there are recognisable characters, something not all graphic novel artists achieve. This is  a huge plus for me.

I did wrestle a little with the story, though. I would have preferred more gradually-unfolding detail of past lives instead of the existing cursory and too-obvious romp through history; and less of the current-day story, which I just found unconvincing. OK, so there’s a talking supervillain cat with nine lives, I have no problem with that. Why are all these humans taking orders from him? How did he arrange that, and what are their motivations? (OK, this can be a problem with a lot of supervillain stories; maybe I just need to work harder on suspending my disbelief.) The story was fine, there were no horrible flaws, it just wasn’t my favourite thing ever.

Bonus note: +1 for racial diversity!


I received this book from Netgalley for review consideration.

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