Book - The Cat With a Really Big Head

Cat with a really big head

Is it a Purrfect book or is Susan Omand feline let down as she reads Roman Dirge's The Cat With a Really Big Head thanks to Titan Books...

“But what if the elephant man was a cat though...”

As a quote in a foreword, this line from Roman Dirge’s introduction to The Cat With a Really Big Head goes a long way towards preparing you for the endearing weirdness that is to come. And it is only one of three stories in the book released by Titan Books at the end of the month.

The Cat With a Really Big Head is about a cat with...yes... a really big head. It’s a horrible premise if you think about it but is written and drawn in such a charming and engaging fashion that it’s very hard not to completely fall in love with him. From hairball trauma, with said hairball subsequently being adopted by the son of the household as a pet, to problems with mice and the acrobatics required to eat Beefy Chunky Beef Chunk catfood (with beef) only using a straw because his neck was too fragile to hold his head while he ate properly, we follow Cat as he deals with all the trials and tribulations of his life, or at least the first of them.

Cat hairball
After the awesomeness of Cat, A Big Question is posed in a poetic interlude about a little dead girl called Alisa who talks to the Autopsy Man who cut her open about why she had to die. Her plea re-opens the Autopsy Man’s eyes to the horror of death and he deals with that in a typically adult way.

The final story in the book was, I’ll admit, one I wasn’t expecting to like from the title, “Monsters in my Tummy”. It suggested some kind of stomach turning, gross-out tale of bacteria or illness but how wrong I was! The monsters turned out the be the emotions of a boy having been dumped by his girlfriend and how the bad emotions fought with each other inside him, breaking his heart and heading to invade his brain if the good emotions lost as he tried to deal with the break-up. I’ll not spoil the story but, having got used to the mindset of Mr Dirge with the other stories the ending is satisfyingly melancholy.

Monster emotions

Yes, melancholy is a word I would use for Roman Dirge’s writing – it’s bleak, it’s beautiful, it’s laugh out loud funny in bits, it’s everything you want from a story. He knows how to work the emotions with very engaging characters that you root for, hoping for that happy ending for them before realising that, yes, fate really can be shitty after all. This is a picture book for grown-ups and the pictures really are beautifully drawn. Being a crazy cat lady I must admit the awww factor sat squarely with Cat but the drawings for the other stories are equally as endearing in a kinda gory but cute way. As well as the quality of both the writing and illustration, Titan have also, as ever, excelled in the quality of their product. The cover is incredibly tactile being a mix of matt texture and glossy picture and this really adds to the overall “feel” of the book. It’s a pleasure to own and to read and I can see myself going back to The Cat With a Really Big Head again and again.

Image - Titan Books