Herding cats is one of those impossible tasks which would be idiotic to even attempt, but as a metaphor for life, Sarah Andersen graphically encourages the reader to keep moving forward and “Go make stuff” through a series of comic strips.
Sarah loves both cats and dogs who are featured throughout the book:
Cat shapes: Round, Long, Curve, Loaf
Dog shapes: Dog
Starting the day is tough for Sarah, who is far from a morning person:
“I will set my alarm for 7:30 and I will WAKE UP at 7:30! No snooze!”
Last panel: The comforter proclaims “BED OF LIES”.
Sarah tries to get a handle on her life:
4 panels with a clean room reflecting “a life of simplicity and order”.
Panel 5 – Later that week – “CHAOS, I AM YOUR MISTRESS.”
Then there is always retail therapy:
After: Sad, but in a fabulous outfit
Other issues explored include anxiety, being an introvert, and tackling work assignments. There’s a tad of political commentary mainly surrounding a same sex relationship with her significant other.
The last portion of the book is a written commentary about the current state of art and the influence of the Internet, entitled Making Stuff In the Modern Era. Andersen laments that in the beginning she found the Internet a nurturing, inviting environment, but now it’s a “fire pit”. Part One: A Guide for the Young Creative, Being an Artist and the Internet, describes the prevailing situation facing young artists while Part Two: Artist Survival, provides advice on how to deal with the conflicts mentioned under the following five headings:
1. Growing pains are common and okay
2. Understanding criticism and harassment
3. It’s okay to have feelings
4. Go outside; the option is there
5. Don’t give up
The author presents comic style representations of Sarah dealing with these concerns providing the reader with some insight into her motivations for the “Sarah’s Scribbles” series.
Despite the above serious narrative, Herding Cats creates amusing comedic moments which are easy for the reader to personalize, especially if they aren’t a morning person, have a tendency to procrastinate, and love Autumn (like me). The illustrations, while not quite scribbles, are definitely lacking details, yet Andersen is effectively able (most of the time) to visually get her point across, hitched along with a chuckle and sometimes an outright laugh. My favorite comic strip pictures the angst of college students preparing for finals vs the calm of Sarah – “Me: No longer in school”. Been there, done that, appreciate the reminder.
Four stars and a thank you to Netgalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing this temporary ARC in exchange for an honest review. This review also appears on Goodreads.