The multi-talented Brooke McEldowney, for many years having worked
concurrently performing chamber music, at music reviewing and in cartooning,
garners most recognition and fame for that last activity. McEldowney's
strip, '9 Chickweed Lane', syndicated by United Features Syndicate since
1993, attracts a huge, ardent following with its good-natured gags about
youthful twenty- and thirty-somethings and a grandma coping with daily life and
relationships in a contemporary USA suburban setting.
'Hallmarks of Felinity', also the title of a recurrent theme in the comic
strip, collects that aspect's singled-out antics in this compact trade
paperback of '9 Chickweed Lane's' most beloved supporting character who gets
97 pages to strut feline stuff. We're talking Siamese cat here, a female
named Solange (hopefully spayed), the companion animal of the no doubt
semi-autobiographical piano-playing, ballet and gymnastics-practicing young
woman featured so prominently in the "funny pages".
In 46 numbered hallmarks, (some running several pages), the drawings,
captions and occasional reactive dialog balloons perfectly capture the
endearing, exasperating, puzzling, whimsical, graceful and playful qualities
of a cat and its effects on its human caregivers. McEldowney's ability to
convey the joys and headaches of life with a feline (and a seal-point
Siamese in particular), with such charm and perceptive, frequently
laugh-out-loud wit comes from a lifetime of personal experience, keen
observation and consummate artistic skill.
Unlike many syndicated comics, 'Hallmarks of Felinity's' panels offer not
only amusement, but astonishingly fine black and white, pen (or brush) and
ink artwork too. The minimal cartoonish renderings of human beings and the
distinctive Siamese-type feline bodies for the desired comical effect does
not detract from McEldowney's superb technical control of line, composition,
shading patterns, camera angles and various tones of pink color accents.
The drawings portray the grace, energy and emotions of its subjects with
such perfection, (especially the dance movement juxtaposed with the cat's
movement), that they can be enjoyed for both the humorous meanings of the
images and the expertise that created them.
This reasonably-priced, compact little 'Hallmarks of Felinity' compendium
deserves to be in the possession of cartoon lovers, ailurophiles and
appreciators of excellent artwork far and wide. It represents a hallmark of