Rebekah Reif

My Sister is a Cat 

In the time frame of 2009-2010, my family and I would frequent a friend’s house. While we outnumbered them (9 to 4), we would double up on hanging out with each member. I distinctly remember not caring about that place much then, but I do know is that they had comics. The younger son had a monthly subscription and would receive these short Spider-Man comics that I adored. I can’t find them now, but I do know that something sparked in those short few minutes of reading the web head’s adventures. 

The book in question is called “My Sister is a Cat”. The synopsis is that Kenji (the protagonist) lives in a stifled home where his passion of piano is not encouraged. His relationship with his family wavers until he sees a cat at the window that can speak. Upon discovering that this cat, is in fact his sister, Lilli, they journey back to where she was first transformed. All the way their friendship and family bond is tested and eventually strengthened. 

The story itself is simple, inspired by slice-of-life, Disney’s Onward, and manga in general. Other influences stem from the music art form of K-Pop. For Kenji’s design specifically, his haircut was taken off of Park Jin-young (a K-Pop singer from GOT-7) with added glasses to indicate distance from the character’s personality and the world. Lilli was inspired by Japanese schoolgirls. I researched contemporary styles that are popular wanting to be accurate as possible. The siblings are meant to be biracial Asian-Americans living in Boston, so I looked towards other cultures with how diverse the city is. Lilli’s clothes were inspired by female K-Pop fashion and Kenji’s from western men’s styles. Lilli in her cat form is based on my own cat, T’Challa. Unfortunately, soon after the start of the project, she was hit by a car only being 1 ½ years old. The comic is a dedication to her as my favorite cat. 

My influences have changed over the years, from manga, to shows, to American comics, all leading to what my art is today. For the current comic I am presenting, slice-of-life anime is the main stimulus for this project. Over the summer, between junior and senior year, I binged several animes but the ones that connected with me were in the slice-of-life genre (this is different as I am more versed in adventure/fantasy). Titles such as Barakamon, My Roommate is a Cat, Hyouka, and Wonder Egg Priority, lured me in through presenting a sense of quietness and living in the moment that I have only witnessed in Ghibli films before. This project is meant to have a sense of wonder while also exploring family dynamics. The story originated from a personal study into my own psyche. I am deeply fascinated in personality typing such as Myers-Briggs and the enneagram. And have aimed to incorporate this into my art. The main protagonist, Kenji, was meant to be a type 9 (enneagram) to help myself go on a journey of self-discovery. As the story went on, this drastically changed, but it has remained on the forefront of my mind as I fleshed Kenji out.  

If the reader is to walk away with anything from this story, I hope that it gave them a few moments of joy. I desire that it leaves them wanting more and to start exploring their own family dynamics. If anything, I wish them a moment where they forget about everything around them, only existing within the pages of the story. 

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