I think that Adam Koford may very well be the new Bill Watterson.
A bold statement to be sure, but hear me out.
In case you have been living under a proverbial rock for the past few months and have not seen the brilliant comic adventures of the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats by hobo contemporary, friend and inspiration, Adam Koford, then stop reading this post right now, do yourself a flavor and flip through his incredible collection of single panel comics on Flickr.
I'm serious. Go now.
Ok, now that you've been sufficiently schooled on the world of Kitteh and Pip, we can talk intelligently on the subject. I know there are some of you, (and when I say some, I mean Nora) who don't get this whole concept. Why are they talking Leet Speek? What does it all mean?
Admittedly, it can be sort of confusing reading the punchlines to the panels. Sometimes it feels as if you've been transported to another world that is solely reliant on inside jokes and obscure references. And I'm here to tell you that it's perfectly fine if you don't understand this meme within a meme. Beyond the strange language of the cats, there is something even deeper going on here. And that's why I'll say it again.
I think that Adam Koford is the new Bill Watterson.
Over the past few months, thousands upon thousands of people have been exposed to the Laugh-Out-Loud Cats. (Just look at the views of the Flickr set I sent to you earlier of the Clustrmap at his official site for proof) Many found them because of their love of the original LOLCats meme, a practice of adding cryptic sayings to photos of cats. Others found them through link sites like Boing Boing or Metafilter. He has gotten worldwide exposure like no other cartoonist that I personally know has.
But I think that Adam has turned a corner with this project. Adam has unwittingly managed to fill a void in the collective psyches of the internets that I'm not even sure they were necessarily aware needed to be filled.
One can argue that since Watterson's departure in the early 90's, the daily comic page has been struggling to recover. No artist or strip has stepped up to the plate and delivered a homerun of a strip that is a must-read. Not just by a group of solid fans, but by everyone. A strip that isn't just a daily stop on the comic page, but one that is the stuff of books and collections and, dare I say, treasuries. Yes, there has been a deep void that just needed to be filled. And for many around the world, the Laugh-Out-Cats is filling that void.
Upon closer inspection, you can see it in the varying line work, the details that are so reminiscent of Watterson's work at its best, or even Walt Kelly. When you peel back the veneer of temporary internet memeish-ness, you have true brilliance in its rawest form. The brilliance of an amazingly entertaining daily cartoon. And it's something that we, as lovers of comics and comic art, have been craving for over a decade. This inspiration is something that I have seen demonstrated over and over again in Adam's work in the past few years. But with this project, I think he has outdone himself.
Like a good daily strip, I look forward to each and every installment. And like the thousands of other rabid fans, I demand more. I'm excited to see where else Kitteh and Pip to go. More to the point, I am excited to finally see the moment when Adam takes rightful ownership of his much-deserved spot in the dailies.
Adam Koford is the new Bill Watterson.
UPDATE: Check out this cool slideshow of Adam's Laugh-Out-Loud Cats by Dj Hojo!