Monday, November 22, 2010

Hey Pais: The Exclusive Catsparella Interview!

One of my absolute favorite webcomics is Hey Pais, a charming strip chronicling the life and times of 7-year-old Paisley the cat. What makes this comic so cool is that it's written by Paisley herself, giving us a unique look into a cat's perspective!

I was super excited when I recently had the opportunity to ask Pais some hard-hitting questions about everything from her early childhood memories, to her contentious relationship with her owner's new husband, The Guy.

I also got the scoop behind the inspiration for her comic, and the story of how she got her name!

Read on for more!

Hi, Pais! Let's get right into it. You did a comic about your origin story, where you revealed that you were a feral cat who was part of a Trap, Neuter, Return program. You were tame and ended up getting a cold, so The Girl (how Pais refers to her owner) took you in, and the rest is history. How old were you when you were taken in, and do you have any memories of your time as a farm kitty?

I was almost a year old when I went to live with The Girl. I don't remember much from those days! There were other cats there in the barn with me, and then I went in a car to a big old house full of girls who liked to pet me, and one of them was The Girl.

(Click comics to enlarge!)

How did you get the name Paisley?

I'm named after Paisley Tinkle from Jeff Rowland's comic Wigu. The Girl is a big fan of Jeffrey's work and thought Paisley would be a pretty name for a pretty cat! She also considered the names Ceres, because I'm sort of the color of grain, and Clara, because she had to take so much Claritin when I first moved in.

What inspired you to start your own comic? How long have you been working on it?

I have a lot of human friends who draw comics--especially The Guy, sometimes The Girl, and many of my internet friends. It looked like a lot of fun so I wanted to try it! I also noticed that a lot of people drew about cats, but there were no cats drawing their own comics. I thought it was important to get a cat's perspective out there. I wanted to do a journal comic like James Kochalka's American Elf or John Porcellino's King-Cat (two of my favorites), just simple little strips that tell a story about what I did that day. That was in early 2006. I drew them kind of whenever I felt like it, until April 2008, when I did the first Thirty Days, Thirty Pais. After that, I switched to the weekly format. Eventually I started expanding to include other storytelling techniques--fantasy, advice, how-to articles, movie parodies, and basically any idea that made me laugh.

First Hey Pais! comic

How much input does The Girl have on the strip?

Pfft. Almost none! Most of The Girl's contributions are logistical--like sometimes I don't feel like using the computer so she scans my comic for me. Or sometimes my pen falls under the couch, then I have to wait for her to get it. Every now and then, though, we'll be saying jokes and snaps at each other and maybe something she said will end up in the comic. She can be kind of funny when you get her in the right mood.

This has been a very exciting, if not difficult year for you. First, The Girl got married to The Guy (who you hate), and then you had to have a tooth removed. How is your relationship with The Guy these days? Are you fully recovered from your tooth operation?

Thank you for noticing. I like to think of difficult times as Opportunities for Bravery--and I've been VERY brave this year! The Girl marrying The Guy was obviously very upsetting to me. I did everything I could to stop the wedding, and then I felt like I had failed to protect The Girl. That's why I did Thirty Days, Thirty Pais June--to think about something else for a while.

These days, The Guy and I have reached kind of a detente. It's shaky. I still like to wake him up extra-early, to remind him who's boss. I promised The Girl I would stop trying to get rid of him for a while, but I'm always thinking of new plots. Like there is a big dog who lives downstairs and I bet if it got near The Guy--bam! No more The Guy.

About my tooth, I'm fully recovered. I don't even miss it! Luckily I had a lot of other teeth to carry the burden of crunching food. It was pretty scary though. Usually The Girl stays with me at the vet to make sure they're nice to me, but this time they made her leave! I don't really remember what happened, though, so it couldn't have been too bad.

One of my favorite recent strips was a Mad Men spoof called Meow Men, where you played the character of Paisley Olson. Are you a big fan of the show?

Yes! I like almost any show that keeps The Guy and Girl on the couch and under a blanket, and I usually watch from The Girl's lap or the back part of the couch. I do really like Mad Men, though, because it has so many pretty ladies in it! I can really relate.

What is it about crunchy stars that makes them so magical?

Well they taste awesome, obviously. But I also like that they keep my teeth clean! I had that one tooth pulled earlier this year but they said for a cat my age, my teeth are in really good shape. I think it's all the treats I eat!

Is it hard work being the prettiest, nicest, softest, bravest kitty?

It's not always easy. But I think it's always worth it. Like maybe some days I only feel like being kinda pretty, because I'm sleepy. But then I put in the extra effort and I'm always glad I did!

Hey Pais - Prettiest Nicest Softest Bravest T-Shirt - RedBubble, $23.94

Anything else you'd like to add?

I would like to serve as an example for everyone to push themselves to be the prettiest, nicest, softest, and bravest they can be! Remember to take some time every day to loaf, either by yourself, with a human, or with one or more cats. And if you live with any cats, don't forget to reward them with pets and treats and regular vet visits. Oh and stay away from dogs, for safety reasons.

So there you have it! Pais is also quite an entrepreneurial kitty, and in addition to her comics, you can also purchase items like hand crocheted catnip mice and beautiful felt kitty badges and cameos from her Etsy store.

Custom Felt Cat Cameo - Design Your Own - Hey Pais Comics Etsy shop, $25.00

Very special thanks to Pais for taking the time to answer our questions, and to The Girl for facilitating our email exchange! You can see all of Paisley's comics for yourself on her website or Livejournal, and follow her up-to-the-minute exploits on Twitter by clicking here!



Angie, Catladyland said...

Great interview -- I love the comic and will have to begin following it :) And those cameos are adorable!!

Anonymous said...

I love Pais. Great interview!

Unknown said...

What a great interview! My cat Coto and I read "Hey, Pais" every week and love it. Good job and thanks Catsparella!

~~~~>^.,.^< Maria and Cotoletta

shing said...

pais is wonderful<3

Cat and DOG Chat With Caren said...

thanks so much for introducing us to pais! I think the comic is adorable and like Angie said I am going to start following it as well.
I loved hearing the background info about Pais!
Thanks so much!

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