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The Sword of Samurai Cat by Mark E. Rogers

This entry is part 44 of 56 in the series 2022 Reads

As with other posts in this series, these #booksread2022 posts go anywhere from a few weeks to a month after I’ve read them. I finished this particular book quite recently, though! 

Unlike the previous three books in the series 1, The Sword of the Samurai Cat was released not as a coffee table book with copious, large, full-color illustrations, but instead as a smallish trade paperback with far fewer illustrations, all of them black-and-white. That means that where the previous books were really heavily illustrated and contained three or four novelettes, this volume (and, I assume, the later ones) are more like lightly illustrated collection of longish novellas. 

Unfortunately, all that full-color art turns out to be somewhat more than half of the fun when it comes to this series, and without it the cheesy humor in the text… well, I don’t know if it falls flat, but it isn’t buoyed up by the wildly pulpy and effervescent color paintings. At the same time, there’s a lot more text in the book, and the unfortunate reality is that the humor’s a bit… well, Mad Magazine comes to mind, as in, it’s probably hgreat for a teenager, but not so compelling to me now, especially with so many of the references being extremely dated. I skimmed more in this volume than the previous ones, and when I paused, it was usually just to wonder what kind of illustration would have been included to accompany this or that part of the text, had the book been more fully-illustrated like the earlier volumes in the series. 

Of course, it was still a pretty quick read, and even though the art is greyscale, it’s still pretty well-done. Apparently Rogers painted these images in black and white and shades of grey, to ensure they’d look better in the book, and I’d say the approach paid off. But in all honesty I’m just less enthusiastic about the direction the series took with this volume. Had I not picked up the rest of the series, I probably wouldn’t have bothered now, but since I have them, I’ll probably give them a look sometime soon, before putting them in some corner for my son to eventually discover when he’s the right age for them. 

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  1. I discussed the first and the third books here and here—I don’t know why I never posted about the second book, but I would rate it as highly in terms of adolescent amusement as the first volume, and indeed I think I read both the first two volumes back to back.

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