Rob M. Worley’s “Scratch9: Cat Tails #1” is a collection of four short stories and a whole bunch of extras from talented creators like Shannon Eric Denton, Caanan Grall, Mike Roll, Justin Castaneda, and Jason T. Kruse.
The first tale, “D’Argent in Zee Hard Luck” by Worley and Shannon Eric Denton, focuses on D’Argent, Scratch’s fourth aspect. D’Argent is white and black and thus has power over both good and bad luck. The four-page story about luck isn’t quite what it seems and there’s a nice life lesson at the end that doesn’t feel saccharine or overplayed. Denton’s art is perfectly chosen with a soft almost European vibe, fitting for the location and charm of the story.
“Bektah vs The Thief Of All Tomorrows” by Worley and Justin Castaneda with colors by Joshua Buchanan focuses on Scratch’s second aspect: Bektah, a cat in ancient Egypt able to transform into a supernatural protector of an Egyptian prince. Worley and Castaneda do a lot with only four pages in this one, teaching lessons while being adorable, funny and surprisingly smart in the riddle that Bektah devises to save the day (and the prince).
“Garogga in Chasing Home” by Worley and artist Mike Roll is the least clever and the most sentimental of the anthology, but Roll’s beautiful and evocative art keeps things more interesting than the simple story on its own. Roll’s art has both a peace and an energy that’s infectious.
The last story, “Greetings from IX Of The Far, Distant Future” by Worley and artist Caanan Grall, is more “activity and games” than “story” but it’s incredibly fun, and framed in a way that gives the games a nice narrative. Grall does a great job of making IX adorably expressive, even as he teaches (from the future!).
Following the last story are more great activities from a step-by-step “learn to draw Scratch” by Jason T. Kruse to a black and white page of Scratch9 to color yourself. There’s also a “how a comic book gets made” section as well as a meet the artist and writer pages, and original character designs. All fun.
Between the stories are one page introductions to each, which, honestly, are the weakness of the book. Perhaps they make more sense to regular “Scratch9” readers, but as this is my first outing with the title, I didn’t get any of the in-jokes or recognize the characters as anything that mattered to the individual tales. Other than that, “Scratch9: Cat Tails #1” operates as a great introduction to Scratch9, and the expansiveness of the character’s potential for any new readers.