On Cat Protocol

Day 11. 56 pages, 25,346 words.

I’d originally intended to ask this as a comment in the relevant place (and I sort of did, on some level), but then I figured I’d make it into a blog post here instead.

This may seem self-serving – and it is, in that it is a post for this blog and all that. But I’ve come to realise that extended comments threads aren’t really as effective an attention-grabber as a straight-up link reference such as I am making here. So, what the heck. I’ll do my part, in my own modest way, to point people towards a cool developing story that a friend of mine is creating.

I’m talking, of course, about the Good Cat / Bad Cat Protocol. I do blog posts about books and movies and comics and news stories and all sorts of stuff, so why not a webcomic?

See, Good Cat / Bad Cat Protocol is a webcomic about the battle between good and evil, and the cats that secretly – and indeed not so secretly – guide the actions of humanity, and possibly much more. There’s a big unspoken backstory that we’re only just beginning to see, which makes it even more interesting. And there are some intriguing characters. And it’s got kitties, a commodity the Internet is running dangerously low on.

A little while ago, there was a semi-sidebar drawing in the series. I do like how Cat Protocol – for so her nickname seems to have become on this blog – makes little current-events bonus releases when something special happens. It’s usually something tragic, but that’s just what the world’s like.

In this case, there was murder and mayhem on the news and the cats (the former Head Cats) were watching. They had a sad little exchange about the evil deeds of humans, but established quite clearly that this was not the work of evil cattery, but of pure human stupidity. This, I thought, raised a very interesting philosophical point.

If human atrocities are the result of our own ignorance, fear and stupidity rather than the orchestration of the Good and Evil forces of GoodEvil Inc., then what does qualify as an evil committed by the Head Cat of Evil and her underlings? What’s their game?

Obviously, there’s a risk in taking the Cat Protocol struggle between good and evil out of the fictional kittyverse and bringing real-world events into it. Incorporating true, heartbreaking human tragedy into a clever, entertaining story about cats secretly ruling the world is a dicey proposition. It changes the game. And you have to be very, very careful to make “this bloody massacre was all according to the plans of this adorable fuzzy cat[1] and her quirky minions” into a witty and faithful statement rather than a crass appropriation of a horrible tragedy. And Cat Protocol manages that very well.

[1] Okay, Milady didn’t look particularly fuzzy, but the current Head Cat of Evil is fuzzy. Under the armour.

So I understand some of the difficulties Cat Protocol must have faced. The need to express sorrow using this unique creative platform? Absolutely, that’s perfectly justified and an excellent use of art – indeed, a classic and celebrated use of art. But what it does to the story, perhaps accidentally but perhaps quite intentionally, is interesting.

So human stupidity is a force outside both good and evil, and yet creates atrocities and horror that most people would lay squarely at evil’s paws, should they know about it. This is the age-old question of nature being hideously cruel despite being devoid of higher morality, and I’ve struggled with it myself. Humans have a concept of good and evil, and compartmentalise the murder of lion cubs by a new dominant male as “evil” and the lifelong partnership of the albatross as “good”, but the truth is, we’re anthropomorphising things that are just dumb nature. And nature, in the brilliant words of Futurama, is horrific, and teaches us nothing.

We label our own actions according to an overdeveloped social sense that stems from our cooperative-primate origins. There’s a lot of common sense to being “good”, but also a brutal self-serving pragmatism to being “evil”. And when we short-circuit our animal instincts, as humans do all the time, the result is often tragic, blood-soaked stupidity.

Which takes us back to the cats.

Is there a third column in the Protocols (aside from the Associates)? Is there an axis of stupidity in the GoodEvil Inc. charter? If not, and if evil is not responsible for these human acts of hatred and warfare and death, what is evil actually doing in the kittyverse?

This is what I wonder, when I see Cat Protocol philosophising. I don’t want to overthink it, but the truth is, why else do we blog?

Overthinking is what separates us from the rest of the animals.

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4 Responses to On Cat Protocol

  1. I do believe this constitutes the first blog review of the comic, so thank you! 😀

    You’re raising very interesting points indeed. The short reply is that you’re not over-thinking it, really. While that little one-shot with Meister and Milady was, indeed, intended as commentary on the crazy contemporary events, what it did to the story was accidental only in how and when it introduced those thoughts. There is a tie-in to the bigger picture, and to the underlying philosophy of the comic. 🙂

    The longer reply involves some amount of backstory-yet-to-be-revealed, but it’s safe to say that in the world of Cat Protocol (yes sure, I’ve come to use that nickname too because GCBCP is illegibile), it is a truth universally acknowledged[1] that cats by definition are neither good nor evil creatures; not in the way that humans generally understand those concepts, anyway. I suppose, my phrasing it like that sort of alludes to some of the unanswered questions of GoodEvil Inc: why the cats took over when they did, and why it is that the Battle was discontinued. Ultimately, THAT is the real question, isn’t it? Why aren’t the Champions fighting the Good (or Evil) fight anymore? And, like you are asking here, what ARE the agents doing in the human world, anyway?

    Ah, all the questions.

    It’s also worth noting in this context that we are[2] reading the comic from the perspective of Evil. Though it’s all dressed in humour, there’s a legitimate reason for choosing the Evil side as the point of entry to the storyverse. It offers (or will offer, once the story moves forward a bit farther) a view to what being in Team Evil means in terms of the duties which the kitties and their human agents perform. After all, we already know what being Good means, don’t we?

    …or do we? Do we really? Mwahahahahahahaha.

    [1] When presented with an opportunity to quote Jane Austen, always quote Jane Austen.

    [2] and will be also in the future, for the most part, unless the cats take a sharp turn towards the left field and stop listening to the author, which is always a possibility.

    • stchucky says:

      There is a tie-in to the bigger picture, and to the underlying philosophy of the comic.

      I felt sure there would be. I wasn’t sure how much to pile onto this one scene which seemed to draw a line between Organised Evil and all the regular bullshit humans do every day. I’m delighted to see this is all well in-hand. Or paw.

      The longer reply involves some amount of backstory-yet-to-be-revealed, but it’s safe to say that in the world of Cat Protocol (yes sure, I’ve come to use that nickname too because GCBCP is illegibile), it is a truth universally acknowledged[1] that cats by definition are neither good nor evil creatures; not in the way that humans generally understand those concepts, anyway.

      Right. It’s a classic human mistake to ascribe morality and alignment to the actions of an animal that is domesticated only in the most generous sense of the term.

      I suppose, my phrasing it like that sort of alludes to some of the unanswered questions of GoodEvil Inc: why the cats took over when they did, and why it is that the Battle was discontinued. Ultimately, THAT is the real question, isn’t it? Why aren’t the Champions fighting the Good (or Evil) fight anymore? And, like you are asking here, what ARE the agents doing in the human world, anyway?

      My thought is, they’re doing damage control, having given up on trying to actually balance the good and evil deeds perpetrated by the monkeys because who put monkeys at the top of the food chain anyway, doesn’t anyone see how they throw poo at each other?

      It’s also worth noting in this context that we are[2] reading the comic from the perspective of Evil. Though it’s all dressed in humour, there’s a legitimate reason for choosing the Evil side as the point of entry to the storyverse. It offers (or will offer, once the story moves forward a bit farther) a view to what being in Team Evil means in terms of the duties which the kitties and their human agents perform. After all, we already know what being Good means, don’t we?

      …or do we? Do we really? Mwahahahahahahaha.

      It was an interesting choice. I mean, casting the “good guys” as the enemy allows natural trope-recognition to do a bit of a setup work for you, and automatically makes the reader see them in a certain light. Not the usual “good guys doing good things because it’s right, and they’re going to win because goodness wins” sort of thing.

      • I’m devastated that I accidentally typoed illegible. Though, there is a certain beauty to that particular typo.

        My thought is, they’re doing damage control, having given up on trying to actually balance the good and evil deeds perpetrated by the monkeys because who put monkeys at the top of the food chain anyway, doesn’t anyone see how they throw poo at each other?

        The kitties’ sentiment exactly. Though, they feel that there are some species of monkeys better equipped to being entrusted with serious responsibilities, as you will see later. (So many side characters. So many.)

        Not the usual “good guys doing good things because it’s right, and they’re going to win because goodness wins” sort of thing.

        Yes. I mean, sure, it’s also fun to write about “evil” cats, but what I really want to do is blur the line between black and white a bit.

      • stchucky says:

        Illegibile. The life blood of the technical writer.

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