Creator/s: Gar Molloy, Paige Keating
Section/s: Strips 1,059-1,075
Website: There are cats everywhere on this site, including its background, navigation buttons, and "Top Picks" comic samples, and even the words in the logo are shaped like a cat. The white-and-orange color scheme also corresponds to the two main cats, which have white and orange fur. This is a good example of a site that's designed to look like it's an extension of the comic.
Most webcomic sites start out basic and get more complex over time, but this one seems to do the opposite. While doing a little research on the comic before writing this review, I found out that it used to have a cast page and a store. The cast page isn't there anymore, and while the store appears to still be active, I didn't see any mention of it on the site. The creators also link to the comic's Facebook page in the comments below Strip 1,072, but that's the only place on the site I've seen it brought up. The creators should try to make the comic's features more obvious for new readers, as well as possibly creating some new ones, like a fan art page, or a page with some additional information.
The creators have been doing the comic for more than 10 years, and they finally hit the milestone of their 1,000th strip in July 2012. This demonstrates an outstanding level of commitment to their project that's rarely seen in webcomics.
Writing: Random humor's a genre that tends to be hit-or-miss -- and mostly miss. While some creators are consistently witty enough to let their imagination run wild, for others, spontaneity takes the place of proper pacing, clever punchlines, interesting characters, and, well, pretty much anything that would actually make a gag comic appealing.
Neko the Kitty's surprisingly predictable for being, essentially, a series of unexpected nonsequitors. That's because, while the subject of the strips can be anything from Donkey Kong Stalin to fart jokes to Loki trying to trick Jesus, my experience reading the strips was always the same. First, I'd read the strip, not get the joke, pause to think about it, then read the strip again to try to understand it better. Then, after getting through the strip a second time, I'd realize that I did get the joke the whole time, it just wasn't funny, so I'd assumed that there was a "real joke" somewhere that'd gone over my head. Well, after repeating this process with about 10 strips, I came to the disappointing conclusion that this webcomic doesn't have "real jokes." The whole thing is just some cats being cute, and while the comic's managed to attract a sizable audience with this approach, I was barely interested enough to make it through the brief, 18-strip section.
I feel like the strip's done in the spirit of the Lolcats Internet meme, where a cat in an absurd situation's shown alongside a goofy caption. I'm as amused by Lolcats as the next guy, but it works better when it's just one silly image; Lolcats doesn't provide enough material for an entire comic strip, let alone an entire website of such strips. There has to be more substance than "it's cats," and the creators should be more thoughtful about what they put in their strips. Adding some creativity and cleverness will still appeal to the people who read the comic because it has cute cats, and it'll help entertain readers who come to the webcomic expecting to find "real jokes."
If I had to pick a favorite strip out of the section, it'd be the "I licked my butthole" one seen here, as it's the closest the comic gets to having an actual setup-to-punchline structure. However, the idea of a cat licking its owner's face after licking its own butt is still more gross than funny.
Art: The comic has the kind of clean, colorful, and consistent style I'd expect of a gag comic. The characters are inked with neat, thick lines, which gives a classic, cartoony feel. And both the older and younger cats are drawn to look like adorable, dewy-eyed kittens. The webcomic's ubiquitious cuteness is clearly very appealing to readers, who've left comments in the strip about Neko playing with his tail such as "So. Freaking. CUTE," "You made me cry from the cuteness," "so cute," "sooooo cute," "soo dang cute," and "I can't stop looking at the cuteness."
Most of the strips take place in Neko's house, and the creators do a good job of providing enough variety to keep the interior scenes from getting stale. Whether it's in the bathroom, in the kitchen, or in the living room, the creators add appliances, decorations, and cat toys so that the house feels like a real place. There are also a few instances of unusual perspectives being used (1, 2, 3), and this helps the strips avoid getting repetitive.
Starting with Strip 1,070, the creators have been taking a different approach with some of the strips by doing them with ballpoint pens and colored pencils. Story-based comics might not handle sudden style shifts well, but it works in a comic like this one where the strips are self-contained gags. While both the digital and traditional methods are done competently, I think I prefer the traditional style since it's more unique. These strips also have more shading and detail, so they're a little more interesting to look at.
Lastly, the readers seem to get a kick outta Bummy, which is a little purple character the creators occasionally place in strips as an "Easter egg." It's a cool idea that I don't think I've seen done before.
Overall: Cats and the Internet go together like peanut butter and jelly, and the creators have found some success giving readers their "cute cat" fix three times a week. However, the comic's absurd humor's underwhelming, and I imagine it could be a lot more popular if the writing was stronger. The creators have earned some respect for sticking with their webcomic since 2002, but looking forward, now's as good a time as any to start trying to come up with better jokes and appeal to a wider audience.