I was walking home tonight along a darkened street when a black cat suddenly came out of the bushes beside me. It looked at me. I looked at it. Now, I’m not superstitious. I’ll hurl a black cat at a mirror with no fear of the consequences. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let one cross my path. It’s the principle of the thing. So I started walking again before it got the chance. It started trotting along beside me. I sped up, and it did too, inching ever closer to me as though it were going to bolt in front of me any second. Eventually, I was practically full-out sprinting down the street, and the cat dropped out of the race. And I snickered in satisfaction, because I sure showed that cat.

And this brings me to lolcats. Appropriately enough, it was my friend Kitty who introduced me to the lolcat phenomenon, though not directly. She just gradually started talking in this curious pidgin until I was eventually forced to Google “KTHXBAI” to see where all this was coming from. That led me to I Can Has Cheezburger?, the preëminent lolcats page on the internet, and suddenly all became clear.*

I know it’s probably astounding that I hadn’t heard of it at that point, but the whole lolcats thing has since blown up pretty big. The last three installments of Achewood have launched a perhaps-inevitable lolcat-related storyline (and also required me to explain to lolcat fan Candace that Ray Smuckles is actually a genuine but debatably poorly drawn American Curl cat, and not a bear).

But my favorite spin on the lolcat theme is this series of cartoons by Apelad entitled The Laugh-Out-Loud Cats, which feature all the usual lolcats memes rendered in an amazingly accurate-looking old-fashioned newspaper comics style. I used to be fairly obsessed with the history of newspaper comics, and this is a dead-on pastiche that looks like it could have appeared side-by-side with the likes of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, who, come to think of it, has a pretty solid claim to being the original laugh-out-loud cat.

* I’ve mentioned my stance on using the diaeresis in words such as “preëminent” before, but I’ll let Ray Smuckles speak for me this time: “Don’t EVEN bug me about usin’ an umlaut [sic] up there. The New Yorker does it and now I do too.”

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