There are so many great reprint series these days that some of them end up flying below my radar and probably the radar of most readers. One of the most interesting of those quiet reprint revivals has been NBM's chronological reprint of Omaha the Cat Dancer.
For anyone who doesn't know about Omaha, it's a sexually explicit comic that mainly was published in the 1980s and 1990s. The creators use anthropomorphized creatures – cats, pigs and wolves, among other fuzzies. Omaha and Chuck, our two leads, have the faces and tails of cats and the bodies of humans – including very human penises and vaginas. Well, very real if all guys had 18 inch dicks, I guess, but we'll get to that in a minute.
What distinguishes this book from its initial impression as furry hentai is the depth of the story and its characters. As co-writer James Vance points out in his poignant introduction, these creations have real life to them, quite a bit of which was brought to life by the much-missed former writer of the series, the late Kate Worley. There was copious sex in the original comic, and quite a lot of fucking this volume at hand, but the sex was always a natural outgrowth of the story being told in the book. Sex is a normal part of life, and it's kind of surprising to realize that the metaphorical bedroom door closes so quickly on most fictional couples in the media.
Sex is often the gateway into intimacy, and vice versa. Vance makes it clear in his introduction that he misses his late wife, Kate Worley, very much. That was his intimate promise to her, and he had an obligation to see it through. Because of that he felt a deep responsibility to bring this series to an end with artist Reed Waller. That aspect gives this book an extra level of poignancy since it stands as a testimony to that creator's vision.
Omaha is, at its heart, a soap opera – or if you prefer, and ensemble drama – that centers around a group of friends and acquaintances in a barely-fictionalized Minneapolis. As we start volume eight, there's a lot of political turmoil relating to the redevelopment of a sleazy block of land that happens to contain the stripper bar where Omaha the sexy naked cat girl works. This book wraps up that plotline and draws Omaha the Cat Dancer to a nice conclusion, in a way that is probably very satisfying to those who have been part of this series to this point.
I have to confess as a reviewer that I'm a little hamstrung in my review of the plot of this book. I'm like a guy who came into Lost halfway through the final season and was told to simply start watching the show. I know that Omaha had a good reputation for quality, back in the day, but I was pretty lost trying to figure out all the relationships between characters. It all seemed very well portrayed but I had no vested interest in these events.
I was also pretty distracted by Reed Waller's art. As someone who's never had a real affection for fuzzies, I thought the anthropomorphized people were distracting and off-putting. They distanced me from the story rather than brought me closer to it. And I had trouble stifling a giggle sometimes when a man with an erection was portrayed on the page – I swear, these dicks are exaggerated as much as Omaha's 38DDD breasts are on the printed page! I wish I was as well-endowed as Chuck is!
Some of the real-world scenes are handled better. Part of the plot centers around an explosion in Minneapolis, and Waller does a nice job of bringing the city to life and providing some context.
Going into this book basically blind, I didn't get much out of it. Fans of Omaha will be delighted to witness the end of a favorite series; as for me, I need to go back and watch the plane crash on Lost.