Mis-interpreted lyrics usually just lead to funny stories. Well, until the internet came along and allowed you to correct your friend with a twenty second Google search. Anyways. In the case of Contropussy, it led to a kicking webcomic. Emma Caulfield (yes, that Emma Caulfield, Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) was talking to her friend Camilla Rantsen about a Prince song and how she was never sure if he was singing contropussy instead of controversy. Since the word was so wonderful, they decided they had to do something with it. The obvious solution was to create a webcomic about a cat.
I got to speak with the lovely writers behind Contropussy as well as illustrator Christian Meesey and editor Christian Beranek at a recent signing at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood. If you’re new to Contropussy, I suggest clicking over to read it as soon as you’re finished with this article. It’s updated twice a week, Mondays and Fridays. Beranek describes it as Sex in the City but with animals. The webcomic follows the life of Sonnet. She is a mild-mannered cat when her owner is around, but as soon as her owner looks away, she is Contropussy – hip, stylish cat on the prowl.
One of the first things you’ll realize about Contropussy is that the lead feline has sass and plenty of it. She’s strong and spunky. Rantsen says Contro is a mixture of her and Caulfield’s personalities and all the women they know. They work together closely on the writing. They figure out the main storyline and have a very clear idea of where the story is going. For the biweekly strips, they like to throw each other curveballs. They each write a little and sometimes put random things in so the other one has to figure out how to respond to it. Rantsen says it’s really effortless to write together, and they don’t always even remember who wrote what.
They are regularly inspired and fueled by current news and politics. If they see something in the news that makes them laugh or just horrifies them, they translate it to animals. You can say a lot when you’re saying it as a cat. Caulfield and Rantsen also want to address animal behavior in the comic. They like to look at why animals do certain things and take their perspective into consideration. You can see this throughout the comic as the animal characters of Contropussy look up at the big world around them. They also have fun putting in visual and written pop culture and geeky references. They’ve tossed in everything from an homage to Anya’s fear of evil bunnies to quotes from Pretty Woman.
After they finish writing a mini script for the upcoming panel, they send it to Christian Meesey for the art. Rantsen says he is the fastest illustrator in the world. He usually turns the illustration around in a day, so he’s obviously earned that superlative. With the input of the writers, Meesey designed the look of Contropussy, and the main character has changed very little since the beginning of the webcomic. After the art for the strip is complete, it goes to Thomas Mauer for lettering. Since he lives in Germany, he was unable to attend the signing.