Frequently Asked Questions:
How did you think up Breaking Cat News in the first place?
One night the Man and I were getting ready for bed, and our cat Lupin knocked everything off the nightstand. Elvis, typically concerned when anything happens, came over to let us know as we were cleaning up the mess. I began to joke, like he was telling us the headline to a very obvious breaking news story. Something clicked, and I drew a comic strip detailing the actual news report. Not long after I posted it online, friends began sharing it and asked to see more. I apologized and told them I wasn’t going to turn it into a comic. As a new Mom, I was worried I wouldn’t have the proper time to devote to it. However, the ideas just kept coming, and two new strips later I checked to see if the domain name was available. I told myself if it was, I would give the comic a shot. It was and I did. I decided to aim for two strips a week, and started working during my son’s naps and in the evenings after his bedtime. More and more people began to share it, and here we are!
How do you come up with ideas for the comic?
I think about funny things our cats have done, or cats we know, cats that have passed (the “Bacon” strip was a tribute to a fantastic old fat Siamese named Roscoe I had as a kid. He was a great cat. He loved bacon, and there must be something to it, because he lived to be 17). Occasionally life interrupts and an idea unfolds right in front of me (like the Junebug, who was very real). I try to aim for behavior that’s universal to all cats, but the great thing about cats is they all have such different personalities. I think a lot of the fun is watching how Lupin, Puck, and Elvis each react to the same issue.
What do you use to create the strip itself?
It is paint! I draw the comic in pencil first, ink it with Micron pens, and then paint it in watercolors. Once it’s inked and painted, I scan it and clean it up in Photoshop; cropping, resizing etc. Then I upload it to the site. I use the template ComicPress. It makes posting and archiving webcomics very easy. The whole process has a very old fashioned start, with a thoroughly modern end.
Are the cats in Breaking Cat News based on real cats?
Yes! Elvis, Puck, Lupin, and even Tommy are all real cats.
How old are each of the cats?
Elvis is almost 6, Puck is 3, Lupin is 2, and Tommy is 7.
Are any of the boys from shelters?
How did you decide who would be the correspondents and who would be the anchor?
Lupin is the most outgoing of the three boys. Whenever we have house guests, he is the first to greet them and sticks by their side for most of the visit. Puck is a little more shy and Elvis is a little more… temperamental. And so, when I first thought up their roles, Lupin seemed the best choice to greet the public most broadcasts. It also seemed fair since he started it all by knocking everything off the nightstand.
Who were the boys’ reporter/reporting inspirations?
Each of the boys is styled and inspired by a different era/attitude of reporting. Lupin is based on one of the old timey reporters of the 1940s, in his enthusiasm and his wardrobe (especially his dashing little cat-about-town hat). Elvis is more like one of the cynical, grizzled 1970’s “IT’S A CONSPIRACY, SEE?” reporters. He’s not quite based on Hunter S. Thompson, but he fills that wild card role. And Puck is styled after an idealistic reporter from any time, the young kid in the news room given his first big break in front of a camera.
How true to life are the characters in BCN to their actual inspirations? I.E. Is Elvis that grumpy in real life?
They’re pretty close to their comic-counterparts. Elvis is that grumpy. He can be very suspicious and anxious about change. He is very loyal to the Man, our son, and I, but not crazy about visitors. He does have moments of sweetness, though, just as in the comic. Puck is a very shy, sensitive cat. He is the first to notice if you’re having a bad day, and arrives with quiet head bumps. He loves to watch birds, falling leaves, etc. And Lupin is very adventurous. He is curious almost to a fault. He is incredibly brave and loves jumping into the shower or trying to climb into the dishwasher. We have to be very careful to keep him out of trouble.
Wait a second… Is Puck missing a leg?
That’s not your eyes playing tricks on you, Puck is missing one of his hind legs.
No he’s not!
Yes he is.
But in the comic–
It’s not there, take another peek!
Does Tommy actually live with the family in Breaking Cat News?/Is he their outdoor cat?
No, Tommy has his own owners, who may or may not make an appearance in the comic. (Expect to finally learn a little more about Tommy this Christmas!) In the comic, he really does just invade the backyard from time to time, looking for friendship or maybe an extra belly rub. In real life, Tommy is owned by a dear friend of mine.
Do the People realize they’re part of a news broadcast?
I try to leave this open in the comic, but my own take on it is: No. I think that the People are completely oblivious to the broadcast, and it would seem that they never notice the boys’ tiny clothes. (Though I have been very tempted to draw the Woman hanging up itty bitty white shirts to dry). I think it’s not a stretch to believe that all cats are certain they are conducting vital business everyday and think we’re in their way/making it harder for them to get their jobs done.
Are there going to be more cats in the strip?
There may be! I’m not certain, but if I could find a way to work one or two more in, I would like to. It bothers me that there is not a lady reporter. We know a few lady cats, including a feisty kitty we used to cat-sit who clashed with Elvis pretty hilariously. It’s on my mind, and if I can make it work, I will try!
Are there going to be new mugs, totes, prints, etc?
Yes! I am trying my best to add a few new designs every couple of weeks.
Do you take commissions?
I am so, so sorry, I can’t take commissions at this time. I get asked this question more than any other, and I thank everyone who has been interested! (And apologize one more time). During the day I take care of our son, and I’ve been selling my artwork online and in independently owned shops for a few years. I try my best to balance motherhood, a small business, and BCN. Right now, I work on prints, illustrating projects, and the comic during my son’s naps and in the evenings after he goes to bed. Many weeks it’s a real scramble. Weeks when there’s been only one comic, that’s usually the reason; I just ran out of time. Crazy as it might sound, I enjoy every minute of the scramble! But I can’t take on anything else at the moment, I’m sorry.
Is there going to be a BCN comic book at some point?
YES! In 2016, a ‘Breaking Cat News’ book featuring the early strips will be available for sale, thanks to Andrew McMeel publishing!
Did you go to school for this?
Yes and no. I do have a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Rhode Island (after switching my major from journalism, funnily enough… Maybe Breaking Cat News was inevitable?) However, cartooning and comics were not part of the course load. I studied printmaking mostly. I spent the years before college teaching myself to draw with ink and paint in watercolors, with a hope to illustrate children’s books one day. After graduating (and before graduating, and while I was in school, and pretty much since I was a kid) I began dabbling in creating comics. Growing up I read comic strips often, especially Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, and Garfield, and since about 3rd grade I have been sketching out panels and creating characters to walk around in them. I tried my hand at two web comics before Breaking Cat News, but neither took off quite the way that BCN has. One of them is technically still going, it’s just on a hiatus right now.
Do your illustrations look like the art in Breaking Cat News?
Not usually, my illustrations are mostly very different from BCN. I tried to give Breaking Cat News its own look and I keep it very simple so that it’s fun to pull off two strips a week. You can look at my typical illustrations here.
I like to draw too, and I’ve drawn some pictures of Puck, Lupin, and Elvis. Can I show them to you?
Absolutely! There is a fan art page, if you would like to submit them to share here with other fans! Or, if you’re a little shy about your work but would still like to share them with me, just let me know you’d prefer not to have your work on the fan art page. Either way, I would love to see your rendition of the boys, and you can send any drawings to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Do the boys have any favorite treats/toys/activities?
They all love catnip, naturally, and are fans of ‘Greenies’, ‘Dentabites’, and the occasional chunk of lean meat. Whipped cream is also a favorite, but we try not to give it to them very often to protect their teeth. Puck is our resident “foodie” (normally that word sets my teeth on edge, but it gives you an idea just how seriously he takes an interest in what we are eating. I keep trying to work in a food critic segment with him in the comic). He adores cheddar cheese and ham especially. All three of the boys love those toys that are a ball with feathers hanging from a stick. Elvis likes to suck on blankets when he is feeling happy, but will not do it in front of Puck and Lupin. Puck loves to knead his paws over new fabrics. Lupin enjoys going through our coin bowl with his teeth, carefully selecting quarters and throwing them down the hall to chase at 2am. (The coin bowl is in a drawer now). They are all crazy about the plastic ring from a milk jug, it’s their favorite toy. We supervise them when they play with it, but so far it’s just a lot of tossing it into the air and batting it out of the sky.
How would the boys feel if they knew they are the stars of a web comic?
I think Lupin and Tommy would be delighted, Puck would be bashfully humble, and Elvis would be just furious. I’ve tried to show it to them, but it was just a lot of chasing the cursor across the computer screen.
How long do you plan to keep Breaking Cat News going?
For as long as folks enjoy it and I can keep it funny. 🙂