I’ve just realised something – few, if any, of the scenarios I’ve come up with for Murph stories have been inspired by my experiences with actual cats! I love kitty-cats, and I’ve befriended any number of furry felines in my time…. but the adventures of Murph T. Catt seem to have arisen in spite of their presence, rather than because of them. I can certainly credit Jim Davis’ Garfield for his influence, in terms of anthropomorphic animals and snappy dialogue; but Murph’s personality and interaction with the rest of the A-team cast (especially Gene and Newton) appears to be the main well of inspiration for his strips, rather than cats per se. Not that he doesn’t face the same driving issues as Earthly felines, of course….
Top: wow, if I had a time machine right now, I’d go back to 2003…. and make myself think of a better punchline for this joke. It was supposed to be a hilarious misunderstanding by Murph of what Gene was talking about, but it just seems so…. contrived. To say nothing of the clunkiness of the dialogue, which also doesn’t help. The only problem is: what to replace it with? ‘Shots’ as in tequila? ‘Shots’ as in photos?
Some other, completely different reaction? I have a feeling
I wrote myself into a corner on this one….
Bottom: the ‘Can Gene understand what Murph is saying’ debate rages on! You would imagine that since Murph is ‘think-talking’ ala Garfield, his owner would not be able to hear any of it (and in earlier strips, that certainly seems to be the case) – but in panel four, Gene is responding directly to Murph’s question! Oh well, maybe in between Point A and Point B, Gene simply learned how to speak ‘Cat’…. Yeh, let’s go with that one.
Top: when I originally sketched out the idea for this strip, Artie and Gene’s roles were reversed; and it was Mr. Deacon’s fate to be constricted. However, it occurred to me that A) Artie doesn’t deserve that sort of treatment, B) Murph would be more likely to latch onto Gene in such a stressful situation, and C) it was far funnier if Gene was the one in dire straits, as it continued the pattern from the previous strips. Murph had hardly made reaching the vet a pleasant experience for his owner, so why would he stop heaping frustration on him once they got there?
Bottom: I think we can all agree that waiting to get an injection is just as terrifying as the moment they jam it in, right? It’s the whole ‘anticipation anxiety’ thing – why do we have to sit there waiting for so long? Does stewing in our fear-sweat for twenty minutes somehow make the vaccine work better, or something? And why on earth do they think saying ‘Don’t worry, it won’t hurt a bit’ will make it any less worse? You are inserting a razor-sharp sliver of metal Into Our Flesh!! We feel your pain, Murph.
Top: I’m not sure where Jim Davis got the idea for ‘cats singing on the fence at night’ from (regardless of how many creative ideas he’s got from it) – any time I’ve heard cats caterwauling at midnight, they haven’t been singing, or howling at the moon…. they’ve been about to beat seven shades of spit out of one another for being on someone else’s turf! Still, Murph is content to follow the grand Garfield-ian tradition,
so I suppose I can’t complain….
Bottom: pop quiz, Cosmos fans – how many fingers is Newton supposed to have? If you answered ‘three’, then you’re clearly more knowledgeable than I was when I drew these strips! Of all the characters in the A-team cast, Newton has probably had the most inconsistencies in his design over time: he’s had three-toed and two-toed feet, a stripy and non-stripy belly, four-fingered and three-fingered hands; and a tail that’s been thick and banded on the underside (like Murph’s), thin and stripy and thin and non-stripy. Poor guy.
Top: Murph is always ready to take advantage of unexpected circumstances when attempting to secure extra food at mealtimes – even if it’s a resource as ephemeral as a sneeze. Oh, sorry, were you going to eat that? Ugh, well, you won’t want to eat it now, will you? Still, I’ll be happy to take it off your hands….
Bottom: what does Newton do when he’s not hanging out with Murph? He indulges his passion for Packratology, of course! I wanted to expand Newton’s CV beyond ‘hapless comedy sidekick’, so I gave him a hobby that comes naturally from his nosy, inquisitive nature: rooting around in junk yards and trash heaps for nifty-looking artefacts to add to his collection (mostly stored under the shed in Artie’s back yard). He has an almost savant-like ability to find rare and unique items without even trying – which came in handy in later years, hunting down raw materials for Macy’s junk sculptures!
Top: sticking their pets in hideously-embarrassing ‘outfits’ may be fine for some pet owners (including Gene, apparently), but both Murph and I clearly agree that the practice is frankly shameful – especially since said pets rarely get a say in whether they want to wear these ‘fashionable’ items or not! A cat-sweater for Murph, by the looks of things, basically amounts to a giant neon-coloured tube sock…. hardly surprising, then, that he doesn’t want to be seen in public with it.
Bottom: on the other hand, there are clear advantages to living with Gene – namely, you have access to the best electronics and audio equipment money can buy! The other neighbourhood cats simply can’t compete….
Top: the firm friendship between Murph and Newton is one of the wonderfully counterintuitive things about Cosmos – in any other universe, they’d either be chasing each other around with cartoon mallets and dynamite; or Murph would be on an obsessive quest to turn Newton (and Newton alone) into lunch. But not here, though! Nonetheless, they are both aware of their ‘expected’ roles in nature, and Murph is clearly not above giving Newton’s gullibility a tweak now and again. He’s just funnin’ you, dude!
Bottom: you nkow that condescending look your cat gives you when you serve him up the same el cheapo cat food for the third night in a row, right before that turn their nose up and swagger off? Well, just be thankful you don’t have Murph to look after – being somewhat more sentient than the average house cat, he’s turned impromptu dining critiques into an art form!
TO BE CONTINUED….