Who let that cat in here!?

Around the tenth issue of Spaced, Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics contacted me and invited me to submit a story for his funny animal anthology, CRITTERS. His timing couldn't have been better, as I had become more interested in the field due to exposure to Walt Kelly, Carl Barks and of course my love of Looney Tunes. With relatively little lead time, I invented Lionheart--named after my black cat, who was named after the Kate Bush album--a feline investigative reporter who tended to get involved with aliens, conspiracies and monsters.

Lionheart debuted in Critters #4, was well reviewed by the Comics Buyers Guide, and became a semi regular feature of Critters, culminating in two full-length "solo" issues towards the end of Critters' run. There also were several appearances in Stan Sakai's wonderful Usagi Yojimbo comic book, and assorted cameos in mini comics and even a tarot card deck. The appearance of Lionheart coincided with the speculator-driven collapse of B&W comics, which dealt the already-unprofitable SPACED its' death blow. As much as I loved Spaced, it had become a tremendous amount of work for very little money; Lionheart, on the other hand, relieved me of the stress of collaboration, the business end of self-publishing and gave me the chance to avoid drawing humans completely!

Over the course of Lionheart's 300-plus pages, I was lucky enough to collaborate with some of the most talented people in the funny-animal field. Anthony Smith, in addition to occasional plotting assistance, was a full story writing partner on the very dense and cynical Quasi Norse storyline, our reaction to the wholly disgusting Iran Contra scandal. In the pages of Usagi Yojimbo, Stan Sakai illustrated a story I had written for him, the best Lionheart has ever looked! Also in UY, I joined the insanely funny J.P. Morgan, creator of Fission Chicken, to tell the tale of the Frankenstein monster as a Cable TV installer. Finally, in the last known Lionheart, Eric Vincent (Alien Fire, In Pictopia, and hundreds more) added the color to my B&W art (unfortunately, the computer operator assigned by Mirage decided to ignore most of Eric's wonderful work and the results are not at all what Eric had intended).

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all images ©1999 by Tom Stazer

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Like this'll stop you thieving cyber-weasels.