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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 loveable 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 2007.
But, you protest, we all remember Aloysius Gemiel 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.
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The remainder of Hodgman's exposé is available in my book, and I leave it to you to judge the soundness of his conclusion.
I will tell you one thing, I do not want to get into a shouting match with him.
Thank you, John Hodgman, and thank you soundfromwayout for the photo.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
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at 8:45 PM