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11 years down

Yesterday marked 11 years of Laugh-Out-Loud Cats. Later this month they’ll hit installment number 3000, and then onward to even more, including another book. But more on that later. For now, in case you missed it all those years ago, I’m reposting John Hodgman’s introduction to my book The Laugh-Out-Loud Cats Sell Out (which is still available for as little as 3 cents). Thank you again John, and thank you everyone.


Good evening.

My name is John Hodgman, and I regret to inform you that the book you hold in your hand is not real.

Do not be alarmed. I am not suggesting that this book is a figment of your imagination. For that would suggest that these very words of introduction themselves are a product of your diseased mind. But the fact is that you are not insane, and I do not live inside your head (yet.)

No. Obviously this book EXISTS. But as a former professional literary agent, I have had some experience in elaborate literary hoaxes (I’m looking at you “Michael Chabon,” All of you.). And as a current famous minor television personality, I am naturally a first class authority on being a fraud.

And so, having carefully examined these LAUGH-OUT-LOUD CATS cartoons, I have determined that while they are VERY ENJOYABLE and certainly ABOUT CATS, they were not drawn in 1912, as is claimed.

How can I tell? Three things.

First, the slang used by the cats “Kitteh” and “Pip” is quite contemporary, and almost surely inspired by the “LOL CATS,” (even the names are similar). If you are not familiar with it, LOL CATS is a popular Internet trend involving taking pictures of actual live cats at the precise moment they are talking. It’s a challenging hobby, requiring considerable skill and patience, and also a computer. It is much much harder than just sitting down and drawing an old-timey picture of cats.

Second, Kitteh and Pip, you will notice, are portrayed as lovable hoboes. Throughout the strips, they gently chase their small, typically feline desires (naps, stew, and a good game of cards) along the back alleys and meandering country roads of a cartoon version of the early 20th century.

Now, anyone can tell you that there certainly were hobo cats during this time, they were vicious creatures who lived cruel lives, and frequently killed their masters. More telling, however, is the fact that cats did not actually start standing on their hind legs until 1972, after the experiments.

And it was not until 1980 that Pip’s arbitrary, overwhelming obsession with falling leaves was first bred in the American Shorthair at the Yale Feline Studies lab.

Third, I applied the ACID TEST, which is something of a misnomer, as the test involves no acid at all. Instead, the original, hand-drawn cartoons are simply inserted into a small fire. Based on the burn rate of the paper (Fast! Fast! So merry and fast!), I can attest that those cartoons that survived the process and are now collected here almost certainly were not created before the year 2006.

YES: 2007.

But, you protest, we all remember Aloysius Gamaliel Koford. He was a major historical figure: a daring walrus-hunter, statesman and spy! Why, if it were not for the many folktales and young adult novels based on his life, the whole public image of the cartoonist as a glamorous, sexually confident, man of adventure would probably not exist!

But it is so. For my research leads to one inescapable conclusion: Aloysius Koford is nothing but a myth, an internet rumor, a shadow puppet cast upon the wall all formed by the twisted, stubby fingers of man standing the darkness. A man named ADAM KOFORD.

But, you continue to protest: ADAM “APE LAD” KOFORD?!? The supposed great grandson of the now thoroughly debunked Aloysius Koford? But that man is a DISGUSTING NOBODY. How could he possibly be a CARTOONIST?

Let me tell you the story as best as I can reconstruct it.

I first came to know Koford’s work some three years ago. I had released a book of fake history entitled THE AREAS OF MY EXPERTISE. Like all decent reference books, it contained within it a number of handy hobo nicknames, which number was 700. And soon a friendly website would suggest that cartoonists begin illustrating each of the hoboes alluded to in my book and posting them on the web. I trust you see the sense behind all of this, and no further explanation is required.

Now it would seem that this Adam Koford is something of an “internet user.” For from the beginning of what would be known as “the 700 hoboes” project, the “Ape Lad” was among the fastest and most prolific contributors. He drew hoboes in every media: chalk hoboes and watercolor hoboes; hoboes as they might have been drawn by George Herriman and hoboes as they might have been drawn by Disney and Al Hirschfeld and hoboes as they might have been drawn by a young man in Florida with a seemingly bottomless barrel of talent and spare time. He drew all 700 and a hundred more, and then he started all over again.

Intrigued, I did a simple Google search for the term “Ape Lad” (for I am the world’s greatest detective), and I found not only Adam Koford, but as well a vertiginous portfolio of non-hobo material, comics and spot illustrations in every historical style, each one singing with the Ape Lad’s intelligence, skill, and good humor.

Soon I would see his name everywhere on the Internet, and then in the New Yorker. And then finally, THE LAUGH-OUT-LOUD CATS debuted, his signature achievement. For those of us who had followed his work, it seemed at once a perfect tweaking of the Internet that he makes his home, filtered through his own encyclopedic nostalgia for the comics form and the hobo obsessive disorder/general mania (HOD/GMan) that is his sad affliction.

And since he just can’t stop creating, Koford then created a creator: Aloysius Koford. As though discovering a secret pile of cartoons was the only way to explain his incredibly daily output. As though the ruse and the joke would apologize and distract us from the fact that he had created something better than the internet memes that has inspired it.

For more than that, so much more, THE LAUGH OUT LOUD CATS a thing of intrinsic smarts and beauty. It is always clever in its wordplay (“Cognito,” announces Pip in a ridiculous false beard, “We are in it”). But glib, it is un-it. Rather, in its sincerity and unfussy, beautiful craftsmanship, it rivals the best of the old-fashioned strips it seeks to emulate. And yes, I am including Krazy Kat in that group, because that has only once cat in it, and this one has two.

Since then, I have had the chance to meet Adam Koford. We had dinner and drinks, and I can tell you that he is not a walrus hunter. He is a normal person with a wife and two children. At dinner he eats moderately, and a drinks he did notdrink, but he was still good, sweet company. He is not a mad man or a spy or an eccentric. He is simply a genius. And that, frankly, is far more exciting, and surprising.

I hope and trust you will enjoy this work, as fraudulent as it is. Now I must go and set to work proving that GET FUZZY is actually written by Thomas Pynchon.

That is all.


Source: Hobotopia

11 years down

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