Natasha Allegri is leading a movement. A quiet, earnest, doe-eyed movement to be sure, but one that is unstoppable, and unquestioningly vital. Bee and Puppycat, her already widely beloved series produced for Frederator's Cartoon Hangover channel, is about to relaunch, to widespread fan salivation. Her social media accounts swell with more and more followers every day. Puppycat plushes and inflatable swords were everywhere at San Diego Comic-Con, as was cosplay and fan art.
Allegri's work, in its sincere, unfailingly sweet way, has announced to the world that animation aimed at an adult (or at least teen) female audience is not just viable — it is a verified path to critical and commercial success. ComicsAlliance sat down with her at SDCC to discuss her success, the importance of cuteness, and what we can expect from the new Bee and Puppycat animated series.
Bee and Puppycat is really, really cute. It is also funny, bizarre, and occasionally wistful. Above all though, it is cute: there’s the pastel palette, the fat pink bows on Bee’s shoes, the warm roundness of its characters, literally everything about Puppycat. Its absurdism is soft and its softness is absurd -- “I got fired today,” Bee intones flatly, the rain spattering her cat-faced pinafore dress. She’s a dumpster-diving Sanrio character, Strawberry Shortcake late for her appointment at the temp agency. The beginnings of a plot prod gently at her from time to time, but never with anything like urgency -- two issues into its run, Boom! Studios' Bee and Puppycat comic has meditated on strawberry donuts, embarrassing pajamas, and platform shoes, but not much else. Creator Natasha Allegri (along with collaborators Madeleine Flores and Garrett Jackson) would rather devote three pages to QR-coded music boxes than set about untangling Puppycat’s origins or the nature of their magical, mysterious employer.
In these qualities, Bee and Puppycat is right in line with Adventure Time, Steven Universe, and Bravest Warriors, its closest brethren in tone and form. Beyond the creator overlap between the four franchises and the fact that all of them now span both animation and comics, they’re all content to hunker down in that pocket of the zeitgeist that brings together childhood nostalgia and bizarre Internet-age humor, where atmosphere reigns over plot.
But Bee and Puppycat stands out among them, and marks a sea change in comics -- particularly in how franchises are formed, what is considered marketable, and what demographics are seen as worthy of being catered to. In its weird, witty way, I believe that Bee and Puppycat emblematizes the future of this industry.
Between its Superbook and Sailor Moon-inspired aesthetic, hearty humor and intriguing premise, it's not hard to see why Natasha Allegri's two Bee and PuppyCat shorts from Frederator's Cartoon Hangover have amassed more than 4 million views online over the past few months. With fan demand fully in tow, Cartoon Hangover has turned to Kickstarter to expedite the creation of six (or more, according to stretch goals) new 6-minute installments set to start rolling out by the summer of 2014. Should backers succeed in funding the project, they won't just get more cartoons to watch. Rewards include a Bee and PuppyCat #1 comic book, with certain backing levels indicating that the series could run long enough to supply two years' worth of collected editions.
The silent battle of superiority between "Cat People" and "Dog People" has just been won with Cartoon Hangover's release of the "Bee and PuppyCat" trailer. Neither dog nor cat, but perhaps both simultaneously, Natasha Allegri's adorable hybrid and its human companion will officially begin captivating those who favor furry friends of any variety on July 11.
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