What is Dead Cat?
He's a cat.
Born thousands of years ago in an Egyptian temple cattery,
he was sacrificed to Bast and went to Hell.
He didn't like it there. Felt cheated of life.
So he came back.
The original story, illustrated by the artist Gak, was published
in the summer of 2000 as a chapbook from Space and Time. Since
then, the little guy has quite literally taken on a life of
What follows is a catalog of his appearances, review quotes,
an explanation of sorts of his origin, and what Dead Cat means
But, really, some things can never be explained....
The Dead Cat Catalog
Dead Cat Bounce, A Fable to Horrify the Inner Child –
Space and Time, 2000
Dead Cats Bouncing, the Anthology, edited by Gerard Houarner
and Gak – Bedlam Press, 2002
|Featuring work by:
|| Jack Ketchum
David Niall Wilson
Gak – illustrations
Dead Cat, He's Back – T-shirt
Dead Cat...Bigger Than Jesus – Bedlam Press, 2003
featuring stories by Gerard Houarner and Gak, illustrated
Dead Cat and the Secret of Eternal Life (Story commissioned
by HWA/Pro-Literacy Charity Auction winner conducted during
the 2002 Stoker Award weekend)
Bad Denny and Dead Cat
Black Cat Walking on Halloween
Dead Cat...Bigger Than Jesus – Café Press items:
Dead Cat's Lick – Bedlam Press, 2004, promotional chapbook
for Horrorfind (earned an Honorable Mention in the 18th Annual
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror from St. Martins Press)
The Dead Cat Poet Cabal – Bedlam Press, 2005, promotional
chapbook for World Horror Con
Dead Cat's Traveling Circus of Wonders and Miracle Medicine
Show, edited by Gerard Houarner and Gak – Bedlam Press,
|Featuring work by:
Trey R. Barker
Michael T. Huyck, Jr.
Wrath James White
Gak, Alan M. Clark, Erik Wilson, Chad Savage - illustrations
(Stories by Jeffrey Thomas, Trey Barker and Gerard Houarner
earned Honorable Mentions in the 20th Annual Year's Best
Fantasy and Horror from St. Matins Press)
Dead Cat's Traveling Circus 2008 Calendar – 2007 promotional
calendar for Necon 2007
Dead Cat Quotes
Gerard Houarner. Write story. Use minimal language. Make
R.C. Matheson seem wordy. You. Read chapbook. Laugh and squirm.
Fun. No bounce back to publisher.
Hellnotes, Dead Cat Bounce
...DEAD CAT BOUNCE, a delightful fable that will horrify
your twisted inner child. A strange hybrid of short story
and comic book, DEAD CAT BOUNCE defies accurate description.
Suffice to say, it is unlike anything done before and wonderfully
so. Houarner has created a unique blend of poetry and prose;
a literary assault that rolls off the page and picks through
your brain like razors.
Master of Terror website, Dead Cat Bounce
On an entirely different plane is Dead Cat Bounce.
Subtitled “A Fable To Horrify The Inner Child,”
it delivers on that promise with a blend of the most bizarre
illustrations, the blackest humour, and that uniquely pragmatic
and fantastic Houarner is justly famous for. This is
a fable with a guffaw and a shudder, never allowing us to
move too far from these extremes.
Dead Cat Bounce is that book you lend to friends,
just to see if you can appall them, the gift that earns you
searching glances from everyone else at the party. And it
is a well-camouflaged look at that mythical “fairness”
of life. Most of all, it is a risk Houarner took that flails
wildly but lands solidly on its feet.
MEviews, SF Site, Dead Cat Bounce
Very enjoyable. I read it aloud to my wife and she nearly
laughed up a lung.
Robin Sprigg, writer, Dead Cat Bounce
This is a narrative poem, or perhaps it’s a graphic
chapbook. Interspersed throughout the whole story are bits
and pieces of satire or commentary on humans, religion, process,
and other things. The artwork is complementary and perfect
in execution. The whole package is quite nicely done and I’d
The Skeptic Tank, Scavenger’s Newsletter, Dead Cat
This poignant story manages to mix Don Marquis’ Mehitable
with Karloff’s Mummy in a charming creepy-funny fashion,
a tone captured perfectly in numerous B&W drawings by
a mysterious artist known only as GAK.
Asimov’s Science Fiction, May, 2001, Dead Cat Bounce
"Dead Cat Bounce. Chapbook from Space and Time. Gerard
Houarner write. GAK draw pictures. Big success. Get Stoker
nomination. Win friends and admirers. Star, they say. Famous,
they insist. Other writers want tell Dead Cat stories. Whatever,
Gerard and GAK say. Edit new anthology for Bedlam Press. Debut
at World Horror Convention. Fun!
"You. Buy book. Read stories. Study pictures. Laugh.
Gasp. Snarl. Whatever. No eat sand. Purr. But take mouse.
Hellnotes, Dead Cats Bouncing
"It's one of the most bizarre premises for an anthology
I've ever heard of. "Weird stories these. I confess I
scratched my head more than once while reading this book.
Why the hell were all these authors writing stories about
an undead cat? What tha F%ck? But once you stop trying to
get it and just read the damned thing it's a pretty enjoyable
little ride this uncanny collection takes you on. Some of
these stories are indeed great parables. You can definitely
pick up one or two things bouncing through hell with a dead
cat. But I would not read these fables to children. A mature
audience is suggested.
"I mean this cat dragged himself out of hell where he
had every excuse to give up but he didn't. He bounced. Don't
you just wish you could fall so far and still land on your
feet? Don't you just wish you could bounce too?"
FeoAmante.com, Dead Cats Bouncing
This is a book for the kid in every adult, for the person
who’s seen what else is on the shelves and just wants
something unexpected. Call if a book of bedtime stories for
the already-damaged child. Call it whatever you want, just
grab it quick before Gerard and GAK do it again with another
Dead Cat book, or better yet, Dead Cat the Animated Series.
And then it’ll be Dead Cat stuffed toys for everyone.
C.Dennis Moore, Epinions, Dead Cats Bouncing
This very strange collections of stories, poems, and artwork
is one of those books that defies categorization. The illustrations
are without exception brilliantly twisted. (The stories)....tickled
my – well whatever bone it is that is tickled by such
SF Chronicle, Dead Cats Bouncing
If you’re up for something so off-the-wall as to be
alien, this is the book for you.
Fangoria, Dead Cats Bouncing
This mini-collection stays true to the fun-loving black humor
of the series, but also moves Dead Cat into new and exciting
territory. It will please Dead Cat fans and leave them hungering
for more—which will be forthcoming, as another multi-author
Dead Cat anthology is in the works—and possibly win
him new admirers.
Feo.com, Dead Cat...Bigger Than Jesus
You can look at Dead Cat -- who started out as a mummified
sacrifice back in ancient Egypt and somehow remains dead,
but reanimated -- as social commentary or philosophical (and
theological) satire or the ultimate in anti-cuddly anthropomorphism
- but that would make you a geek. Its best to just enjoy the
crazy dark humor of it all and be happy that these two wackos
channel their energies through D.C.
Dark Echo, Dead Cat...Bigger Than Jesus
The fun never ends. Gerard Houarner, GAK, and their beloved
Dead Cat are back again for the 3rd Dead Cat book, Dead
Cat . . . Bigger Than Jesus. True to form, it just keeps
Dead Cat . . . Bigger Than Jesus is nothing less
than a great time, an hour or so of escapism to a world where
nothing you know is the same, no matter how familiar it seems,
where ancient gods search for answers, "four-armed,
red lizard thingies" live in tool sheds, and a Dead
Cat walks the streets.
C. Dennis Moore, Epionions
“Dead Cat's Traveling Circus of Wonders and Miracle
Medicine Show" is another hilarious collection of Dead
Cat philosophical writings. If you have never caved and bought
or read a Dead Cat collection, now is the time to weaken.
If you like macabre humor and need a fresh start, Dead Cat
Midwest Book Review, DCTCWMMS
At 338 pages, DCTCoWaMMS may seem like overkill for an anthology,
but a lot of that is due to layout and artwork. Just open
the book and you’ll see what I mean; GAK’s really
outdone himself this time as far as the art goes. And the
stories . . . yeah, there are some AWESOME stories in here.
I’m getting off track, sorry. DEAD CAT’S TRAVELING
CIRCUS OF WONDERS AND MIRACLE MEDICINE SHOW was one of those
books I didn’t want to put down, because with that combination
of great stories and beautiful artwork, every page I turned
seemed like it held new promise of something awesome. And
more often than not, it did. This anthology brings together
so many different things, fantasy (“Puss in Boots”,
by Houarner), science fiction (“Dead Cat Matches Wits
with Ratnarokh, the Ultimate Sentient Super-Computer, On the
Blood-Red Planet of the Porn-Bots” by Mark McLaughlin),
horror (“Dead Cat Food” by Tim Lebbon--yes there
are 2 stories titled “Dead Cat Food”--and “Lunch
at the Kibbey Crematorium” by Michelle Scalise), humor
(“Dead Cat Meets Rinn & Stumpy” by Brian Hodge),
that no matter what your taste in fiction, if you dig great
stuff, DEAD CAT’S TRAVELING CIRCUS OF WONDERS... will
have something for you. Seriously, something for everyone.
It’s that good. C. Dennis Moore, Epinions, DCTCWMMS
Why Dead Cat?
(The following originally appeared in Jobs in Hell #51, edited
by Brian Keene, and serves as an explanation – as good
as any – for the published appearance of a character
called Dead Cat.)
In twenty-three years of writing, Dead Cat Bounce, A Fable
to Horrify the Inner Child is the first story I’ve
written that has ever provoked consistent questioning from
readers about its origin. People shake their heads, usually
after just looking at the title and Gak’s cover, and
ask, why did I do this? Sometimes, after reading it, they
ask, how could I do this?
The latter question is for psychologists to answer. The former
I can address.
Ever since I discovered Joe Lansdale’s My Dead Dog
Bobby, I’ve wanted to do a children’s story.
A fable for adults and children, balanced between primal realities
and social necessities. Something that was fantasy, but with
a dark emotional core that children experience directly in
their daily lives and adults rarely remember.
The ground was prepared by meeting Gak at the Atlanta World
Horror Convention. Of course I had seen his work, and he had
even illustrated one of my stories for an Australian magazine.
We hung out in the bar with other writers and artists, had
a good time, and I came away with the vague notion that we
should do something together. It would be fun.
In discussing possibilities, we both agreed we should do
a chapbook length project, something relatively cheap to produce
and sell, something to carry around at conventions that was
not too expensive for a casual purchase and which might grab
a reader's attention.
And most importantly, we wanted the book to serve as an introduction,
a calling card, to our work.
At the time, I was working on solidifying parts of the outline
for Road From Hell, the third book about a character
Max and his twin lovers, Kueur and Alioune. I needed a messenger
to communicate between a character in hell and others in a
borderland realm between between spirit and physical worlds.
I ran across an article about an Egyptian excavation which
revealed the practice of raising animals to be mummified so
they could carry pilgrims’ messages to the gods. Cool.
I had my messenger.
But the idea haunted me, nagged me. What was up with this
cat? How did it feel, being a messenger?
The idea took off when I found the title. While listening
to a stock market report, one of the reporters referred to
a mild run-up on a stock during after hours trading as a dead
What!? Is that phrasing legal?
I was once asked by an editor to change story victims from
animals to people, so I've experienced literary sensitivity
to animal cruelty first hand. This bit slang was a revelation.
It was shocking, but also funny in that ironic, post-modern,
dressed-in-black kind of way, and best of all, served the
story. At that time, it was also still new enough to be unknown
by most people.
Dead cat bounce was mine.
Finally, I had to find a voice. One of the key elements of
a successful, even classic, children’s tale is voice.
Dr. Seuss is the most obvious example. Poking around in the
children’s section of the local Barnes and Nobles didn’t
reveal anything inspiring (writers will understand that as
an inability to find anything worth stealing).
So I went back to the character, shifting back and forth
between third to first person. I researched cat psychology.
I remembered cats I’ve known and lived with. Finally,
the more I looked at the world through cat eyes, the leaner
my thinking became until I found a spare, direct voice, grounded
in basic cat drives.
No singing, dancing, poetry, boots, fencing, Broadway productions
or French fairy tales. I pared down sentences even while preparing
the final copy for publication.
As for publication, well, I have to admit I cheated. I work
for Gordon Linzner as Fiction Editor for Space and Time magazine
(editorial note: true in 2000, when this was published, but
Hildy Silverman is now the publisher of Space and Time). As
in any small press venture, there’s no payment involved,
just the satisfaction of being involved in a high class operation
and giving other writers an opportunity for publication. However,
the relationship does give me an “in” with the
publisher. Thankfully, I didn’t have to send the story
through the mail with a proposal letter – I handed the
story over to Gordon one night when we were exchanging stories
for the magazine. He read Dead Cat Bounce, listened to my
pitch about a heavily illustrated children's book package,
scratched his head (he may have even shaken his head, it's
hard to tell sometimes underneath the hair), shrugged his
shoulders and said okay, he'd publish it. Equally fortunate,
Gak also liked the story and was practicing drawing dead cats,
awaiting for the go ahead to go crazy.
Gak’s stunning art came back, Gordon and I laid out
the book, and it was produced in time for a release at NeCon,
a convention heavily attended by horror writers, where it
was given away as a goodie-bag freebie instead of the usual
copy of Space and Time which Gordon gives out at the convention.
One of the writers in attendance took a look at the final
product, shook his head and said I'd just wiped out my prime
market with that marketing ploy. But making money off this
project had never been the primary objective. (Writers, as
any small press publisher will tell you, are too damned poor
to buy that many books and magazines, anyway.)
The book created a nice buzz at the convention and has received
some good reviews in the few months since its release. More
importantly, it was a lot of fun to do. And lastly, we are
making a little bit of money as I invariably sell a copy or
two at gatherings, along with an occasional Dead Cat T-shirt
(Dead Cat, He’s Back).
The bottom line is that I have something provocative and
amusing to wave in front of people at panels and readings
(a la Mark McLaughlin, well-known creator of the outrageous),
which will hopefully serve as a lead-in for my other work
(and Gak’s, as well).
People rarely spring for an expensive hardcover collectible
book, or even an expensive trade paperback, from an author
they do not know or are only vaguely familiar with. But Dead
Cat Bounce is an alluring alternative - a picture book,
dark, funny (in a sick sort of way, of course), and cheap.
And who knows, there might be a future in fables that horrify
the inner child.
If only MTV would return my calls...
And now the story from GAK, hisownself
When Gerard and I first discussed the possibility of putting
a chapbook together I immediately jumped at the chance, sight
unseen. A cat, sacrificed to Bast, sent to hell as a messenger
and dragging itself back to the land of the living thru an
act of sheer willpower. How could I possibly pass this up?
I had also been trying to put together an anthology/graphic
novel of stories based upon GAKART...and though I had gathered
together an impressive stable of authors, few publishers were
up to the task of producing the book. Dead Cat would be a
perfect introduction to what I had in mind for the anthology,
though not based on GAKART it certainly was in sync with my
Days after World Horror I received via email the story, Dead
Cat Bounce...printed it out and putting my feet up on my drawing
table began to read. And grew more and more perplexed. Through
the magic of computer technology...or my own idiocy when dealing
with said technology, the story had printed out as one long,
run on sentence with no breaks for paragraphs or spacing.
Looking at the pile of other work waiting to be completed
before Dead Cat, I tossed the story on my "to do"
pile, where it sat. And sat. For days. For weeks. Months passed.
Finally I picked the story up again and began breaking it
down into manageable bits, alternating hot pink highlighter
with hot orange. I began downloading every breed of cat picture
I could find online...trust me, there are a shitload of them
out there. But none were Dead Cat.
The greatest part of the story was the minimalist way it
was written. It gave me total freedom in creating my very
own version of hell and its inhabitants.
The pile of sketches grew as time grew shorter. Gerard was
a saint. Occasionally asking what was up with the story and
accepting my cryptic replies that I was bounce bounce bouncing
along with my dead cats. But none of the cats were quite right.
He had to be just right, just scary enough and yet still cute
in a weird kinda way. Then my own cat, Capt. Blood, leaps
upon my shelves, knocks over a glass of water and spills it
upon the story. Hot pink and orange watercolor marker begins
to flow and ooze, blurring the writing, totally obliterating
it in some instances. Fortunately I had the story and visuals
floating in my head all ready and was just waiting to nail
down Dead Cat himself. I screamed. I yelled. I stomped around
the house cleaning up the mess whilst Capt. Blood watched
in amusement as cats are known to do. I looked at him sitting
there. Blood is a Persian who, alas, I don't keep groomed
as well as i should. He tends to have tufts of fur sticking
out in every direction without rhyme or reason. Though he
doesnt look much like the Dead Cat drawings, the attitude
and general scruffiness is there. I sat down, started drawing,
and Dead Cat was born.
What Dead Cat Means to Me
Dead Cat is what I want to be when I grow up and become
dead, removed and released from the body's needs and drives,
gone elsewhere to find out what's on the other side, and the
other side of that, and a few more sides all around inside
outside, and then come back because all that was very interesting
and good to know but life is good and life is sweet and different
from all of that.
Dead Cat is who I am after listening to lies, incessant
bullshit self-aggrandizing empty words, promises broken as
they're spoken, hypocrisy and ignorance and self-righteousness,
bluster and stupidity and sheer evil, the manipulative exploitation
of fears and desires, and all I want to do is answer with
the short, sharp strength of reality.
Dead Cat is how I deal with the cost of being alive: at
some point, you just gotta laugh at all this shit.
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