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Review: The Complete Omaha the Cat Dancer, vols 6 and 7

The Complete Omaha the Cat Dancer, vols. 6 and 7. By Reed Waller and Kate Worley, with James M. Vance. Amerotica (NBM Publishing), 112 pp. (vol. 6) and 96 pp. (vol. 7), $12.95 each.

Reviewed by Gayle C. Straun

The sixth volume of Omaha—the classic erotic soap opera comic book series featuring talking animals—finds the title character under a different name, in a different town, having left Mipple City, Minnesota, after a fight with Chuck, her lover (and newly minted millionaire). In this new town, she tries to land a “decent” job, but—surprise, surprise—she discovers that sexism is worse in the office than at the strip club, and so she returns to her old profession at the local joint. Meanwhile, police continue to investigate the murder of Bonner, the religious right scourge of Mipple City’s “indecent” establishments, and their probe takes them closer and closer to Chuck’s family, providing the catalyst for revelations about his mother’s life all those years he thought she was dead. Christmas and the New Year promise some respite from all this intrigue, promise to bring everyone together, but will the center hold, or will everything fall apart from the forces of jealousy and envy?

Some of the greatest praise ever extended to the Omaha series came, oddly enough, from the Indecent Publications Tribunal in Wellington, New Zealand, which was tasked in 1990 with evaluating Omaha after issues were seized by customs inspectors. After studying the issues in great depth, the panel declared that “[t]he sexual activity is portrayed in the context of loving relationships between articulate, caring, and reasoning characters,” and then went on to praise “the dominant effect of these books as intelligent, reasoned social commentary, their social and artistic merit, their educative rather than corrupting influence, and their honest portrayals of human relationships, particularly those involving disabled people and gays….” More than that, the script is flush with a quiet sense of humor, as exemplified in the sixth volume when Rob—a San Francisco transplant out on a date at a gay, Midwestern, country-and-western bar—says of country line dancing, “I knew God would punish us for disco, somehow.” And writer Kate Worley not only had an eye for the little details that make this story seem so reflective of everyday life—“Rule number one of successful party-throwing: the hosts eat a solid meal waaay before start time”—but also avoided idealizing characters and their lifestyles, presenting, for example, open relationships, not as easy panaceas to the purported doldrums of monogamy, but instead as hard work, with jealousy sometimes rearing its head when least expected.

Unfortunately, Worley’s death in 2004 left the series unfinished, but her husband, James Vance, and artist Reed Waller are collaborating to complete the story, working from notes she left behind, with the result being serialized in Sizzle magazine prior to collection in an eighth volume. While it will be a shame to see the series end, its run for these last few decades has been a blessing to all who struggle for understanding in this world—or just love a good story.

Mirrored from Circlet Press: Welcome to Circlet 2.0.

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