project: big book of cats

Illustration Project: The Big Book of Cats: An Introduction

August 7, 2012

So this is the Big Book of Cats.

When Harriet the Spy came out in 1996, it ignited a composition notebook obsession in me. I carried around a few “spy” notebooks in which I mostly verbally detailed all the cars driving by my front porch, but this baby was my masterwork.

The Big Book of Cats is a sort of encyclopedia of anthropomorphic cat girls. Yup. 10 year old Michelle felt the need to draw over 50 different cat girls and list a bizarre survey of personal information about them–name, age, eye color, fur and hair color, home state, and even their paw prints. Kids are so fucking weird.

As I was making this masterpiece, it was my pride and joy. I carried it around and worked on it at school and in public and would show it off to anyone who would listen. As I grew older, I became ashamed for a variety of reasons:

1. This shit is just weird.

2. Furries? Really?

3. The drawings are awful. Any artists out there will understand. We are our biggest critics. Even when I was 14 and moved on to drawing equally terrible anime drawings, looking back 4 years to my 10 year old doodles embarrassed me on a purely talent-related level.

Although I tried to hide the book very deeply in the junk piles of my childhood bedroom, I couldn’t bare to actually part with it. I knew one day I would be able to look back and enjoy the hilarity and besides that–I actually finished this thing. All 200 pages! For me, a chronic procrastinator and lazy bum, that is incredible. To this day, The Big Book of Cats is one of the only illustration projects I’ve ever seen to completion.

I couldn’t work up the nerve to pull out this book and laugh about it with friends for a very long time, but I would occasionally flip through and doodle the characters in whatever my current drawing style was. I always thought that was fun and interesting, so I’m making a vow right now to honor this horrific piece of literature and redraw every cat girl and post a new drawing along with the original for the internet’s amusement.Β 

First of all, can we just talk about the opening spread?

I have to ID myself just in case its ever lost, someone will know exactly where to return it THANK GOD. Not “Class Program”, it’s “CAT Program”! So witty, you guys. I made sure to copyright it and keep it super official, but I did change my mind and decide not to do a series of chapters. There’s also a taste of all the creative names of the cat girls you’re about to meet–in their personal handwriting, of course. AND SO MUCH MORE!

Are y’all ready for this? I simultaneously apologize and say YOU’RE WELCOME for what you’re about to see unfold.

  • I am in love.

    • Michelle

      Hahaha, I hope you stay entertained, Staci! It’s pretty ridiculous.

  • Alex

    tbh i am so stoked over this that i just keep coming back and looking at this entry and going “GIVE ME CATS”

    • Michelle

      Hahahaha I love you!

  • I am also in love. So glad you signed up for the comment challenge. That’s how I found you!

    • Michelle

      Aww, thank you, Sarah! I am so glad you hosted it! :)

  • In this brief introduction to your 10 year old self, I have concluded that we would have been best friends. I too have pages such as this, except they were never confined to the safety of notebooks. No, sheet upon sheet of loose paper- so easily found by prying siblings- covered in various cats. I can’t wait. I am excited to see MORE CATS.

    ps- I really love the …And so much more! teaser

    • Michelle

      Hahaha, aww, thank you! It’s so nice to meet kindred cat lady spirits and inspire others to admit their weirdo childhood hobbies. 8)

      Thank you for commenting and allowing me to discover your blog! I looove it. You’ve gained a new follower for sure!

  • I wish I could go back in time and give your eleven-year-old self a medal or something, because you are now officially my hero. This is amazing. I am so jealous I didn’t come up with something as fucking awesome as this when I was eleven.

    • Michelle

      Hahaha, aww, thank you! I’m pretty proud of myself, too. I know I don’t come anywhere close to that level of genius anymore so I’m lovingly ripping myself off 15 years later. :)

  • This is the best thing since… Ever. I NEVER thought to go through old sketchbooks and do that, haha.
    I am STOKED to watch this unfold! :D

  • Hey, I featured this project here:
    A small silly feature but… yeah! :D

    • Michelle

      Awww, thank you, Lauren! That’s so sweet of you! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my little project. :)

  • I adore this. I just went through and surveyed the archive and I loooove it.

  • I just discovered your big book of cats and I love it! I think we could have been 11year old besties. I’m excited to meet the rest of the cat girls – thanks for sharing them!

    • Michelle

      Thank you, Emily! So sweet of you to say! :)

  • This is the best thing I’ve ever seen on the internet. And I’m not exaggerating. This is truly a gem.

  • kate

    YES. this is the stuff dreams are made of.