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Lee is a seventeen-year-old with a dumb haircut, an interest in pharmacology, and an ability to hear cats talk.  He’s also in love with his best friend.  The latter would be a relatively simple problem to resolve, but it’s not the fact that they’re the same gender or different races that’s the problem — it’s the economic disparity that shapes their miscommunication the most.

Prince of Cats is set in the year 2003, in a county situated on the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border of the Delaware River.  It’s a slice-of-life love story that spans a year of their high school drama.


Lee Andrew Holtzer

Lee is seventeen, middle class, and has his hands in everything.  Chorus, drama club, yearbook, prom committee — but his real love is biology, and his dream is to contribute to finding a cure for AIDS.  His main focus right now is getting into a college with an excellent biology program.  Or rather, that would be his main focus if he didn’t have a troubling relationship with talking cats and an intermittently crumbling/budding relationship with his best friend, Frank.


Francis Murakami
Frank is five days older than Lee, and has been his best friend since grade two.  He lives and works on a small family farm outside of town and assumes he has a duty to fulfill in taking over the seventy year-old farm. His real interests lie in clothing design, which manifests in his making and altering his own clothes and accessories.  Frank doesn’t interact with many of his schoolmates besides Lee.  Being the only Japanese-American in the school gives him his fair share of grief — he finds he gets less of it when he keeps to himself. He is particularly close to the elder of his two younger siblings, Sam.


Adi R. Cohen 

Adi is a classmate of both Frank and Lee.  Frank tutors her in English composition.  After being rejected by her first love, Adi’s kindled a close friendship with Frank’s younger sibling Sam.  She lives with her father and paternal grandmother, and likes to sing.  She’s uneasy about her lack of focus, not quite passionate about any one career path.




Owen Wright

Owen is a major drama diva, both in the “star of the school plays” sense as well as the “gossip is his lifeblood” sense.  He’s short and catty and one of Lee’s closest friends.  While on the surface it seems like Lee takes their relationship for granted,  their bond is a lot stronger than it looks.  They’ve trusted many secrets to one another, and have helped one another through difficult times.



Amy Murakami

Frank’s youngest sister, aged 13.  She is a bit of a princess and a brat, opting out of helping with any of the farm work for fear of getting dirty or messing up her hair.  Frank and Sam have a habit of ganging up on her when she’s being difficult, which just drives her more into her contrary and judgmental personality.  Her hobbies include talking on the phone and watching television.



Sam Murakami

Sam is the middle sibling, and is only one year younger than Frank.  Although he spends most of his time watching animé or socializing on the internet instead of spending it with other people, he’s a particularly perceptive and well balanced person.  He is the only one of the siblings who can both speak and read Japanese (Frank can speak a little, and Amy knows absolutely none) and enjoys translating comics and novels.  Sam has only come out to a few people closest to him as transgender, so some family and friends still use feminine pronouns for him.



More character profiles will be revealed as they appear in the comic!




This comic is written and illustrated by Kori Michele Handwerker.  Kori is a graduate of the Maine College of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting.  Additional editing, critique and fact checking is provided by Peter Selmayr and Herongale. The website was made by Harry Bentley.

Kori can be reached at korimichele@gmail.com



Is this comic safe for kids?  Teens?  Adults?

Prince of Cats is appropriate for ages about 13 and up, depending of course on the emotional maturity of the reader. The main characters in the comic are between 16 and 19 years old, and their conversations and actions are more or less typical of their age group, which includes talking about and having sex, swearing, and fighting.  There is infrequent but very foul language in parts of the comic, including curse words and some homophobic/racist/gendered slurs.  There are/will be discussions of sex and completely non-graphic sexual scenes.  If you, or the child you’re checking for, are able to handle conversations about sex and discrimination, then it should be acceptable.

How do you make it/what materials do you use?

The materials I use to make the comic have changed over the years.  The short answer is Holbein Gouache and various inks and pencils on paper.

Chapter 00 was done in copic markers, and Chapter 01 pages 1-67 are painted on bleed-proof pen paper with text placed using Photoshop CS2. After that, I started using good watercolor paper and lettering the comic by hand.  The comic is painted with only two colors: Burnt Sienna and Deep Ultramarine Blue (Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber for flashbacks.) My first paper switch was to Cartiera Magniani watercolor paper, then to loose sheets of hot-press Arches paper, and finally to Arches Watercolor Paper pads.  For inking, I began using india ink with a dip pen, and later started using the Pentel Procket Brush Pen.  Right now I just pencil my pages onto the watercolor paper and don’t ink them.

Is this story a yaoi?

The short answer is no.  While the evolution of the definition of the word makes this a tricky question, and I do often advertise the comic on yaoi-based sites, this is a queer love story.  It is about a community of teenagers living outside of gender and sex expectations, and the experiences they have growing up and understanding their identities.  Having sex is a part of that process, and while there will be non-graphic sexual situations in this comic, this comic is not about gay sex. For more information, see Yaoi according to wikipedia.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send them to me at korimichele@gmail.com