Interview: Tea Time With Tentacle Kitty
Apr 26, 2022
Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen
The world according to Tentacle Kitty!
Arriving this April, Dark Horse Comics invites you for a spot of tea and a round of stories featuring "the pink one" and friends.
From hunting down cotton candy mice to pirate hijinks, and mega convention run-ins, Tentacle Kitty: Tales Around the Teacup features stories for all readers, told only as a Tentacle Kitty can!
PREVIEWSworld hung out with writers John Merritt and Raena Merritt to find out why this convention sensation has captured the imagination of so many.
It was a dark and stormy night - seriously - and I was waiting for my girlfriend (now wife, Raena) to get off work from Fry’s Electronics (RIP) at the local Sheri’s, which is like a Denny’s, but called Sheri’s. While I was waiting, I decided to make something cute for her. I mixed my love of kitties and her love for tentacles. Now she was studying marine biology at the time, so one day she rushed thru the door and yelled “TENTACLES!! THEY’RE THE COOLEST THINGS!!” and proceeded to tell me how and why they are a very cool appendage. To make it extra cute, I make the little critter pink and POOF! Tentacle Kitty was born. After that, we came up with who she was, where she was from, and the tale that we saw her in. After she shared this cute little thing with her friends, they suggested we put it online. After copyrighting and all that, as one does when putting things on the internet, we got a small fan following and they requested putting Tentacle Kitty into other worlds. I made a series of illustrations based on her and people started asking for apparel. We put some out and people enjoyed it. Then folks said, “You need to make a plush!” We had never done anything like that before, but we gave it a whirl. We came up with a design and reached out to ThinkGeek to see if they were interested in having her as a product. They said “Sure!” so we made our first batch. Since then, we’ve made hundreds of plush designs, comics, coloring books, and now, our first graphic novel.
Tell us about Tentacle Kitty in terms of its reception on the convention circuit. How did it find its audience?
We originally thought Tentacle Kitty would appeal to just teenagers, but once we brought our plush prototype and some prints to our first tiny little artist booth at Comicpalooza in Houston, TX, we saw right away that everyone who loves the cute and the strange fell head over heels for her. Over time we found that not only did people love her for her odd appearance, but they found her more comforting than your average plush. Many of our fans say that when they get upset, they will hold her tentacles and something about it just soothes them. Others said our kitties helped them thru difficult times, while others used their plushies as cake topper for their wedding! We haven’t really found anyone who doesn’t love Tentacle Kitty once they see her and hold her in their hands.
What initiated the move to Dark Horse?
We were approached by Dark Horse years ago at New York Comic Con! Rather amusingly, 4 people stopped by separately to tell us “We should talk” after they picked up their own kitties. From there we worked on the coloring book with an amazing team of artists to come up with some unique takes on her world, and our projects together just kept growing!
It was a dream come true really. We had lived nearby Dark Horse when I first made Tentacle Kitty, so we had talked about how cool it would be if Tentacle Kitty ended up at Dark Horse. So, you can imagine our delight when we met them all and decided to work together.
So, let’s talk a little about the setting for Tentacle Kitty: Tales Around the Teacup. Why a tea party?
Rae and I enjoy a cup of tea every day, so naturally, we created a character that is absolutely obsessed with it. Clocksworth is the pilot of their ship and a tea aficionado. It is vital for teatime to be the highlight of everyone’s day. Thus began Tentacle Kitty and friends’ daily ritual of tea and storytime. We had already been working on the origin story of Tentacle Kitty well before Dark Horse approached us, so we wanted to make something that didn’t overlap anything folks had already seen, and not affect the continuity of the stories as they progressed during the graphic novel’s creation. So, we focused on some stories that we already wanted to tell but were not directly related to the main story.
What type of stories can people expect inside?
Stories about growing up, coming face to face with the real version of someone, and a very small tale told as a very tall one.
We tried to give people a broad range of stories that they would expect to see in any of Tentacle Kitty’s stories. I don’t want to spoil any of the stories, so I won’t describe them more than that, but I hope everyone enjoys them as much as we did making them!
What have you considered the appeal of Tentacle Kitty?
We built Tentacle Kitty and her world around a simple premise: “Never Judge a Kitty by Her Tentacles”
I think that statement speaks volumes. It’s the idea that no matter what you think about someone when you first see them, the truth of who they are will surprise you. It’s definitely a focus on the prejudices we face every day from our human interactions, our day-to-day interactions with the world around us, and sometimes even ourselves.
Plus, she is super cute and cuddly. The fact that when you hold her plush with her tentacles between your hand, it feels like someone is holding your hand, it just soothes people in ways other critters can’t.
Can we expect more from the series via Dark Horse?
Most definitely. You can expect to see much more as time goes by. This is just the beginning!
What are you hoping readers take away from the first graphic novel?
I hope they find happiness in the pages we’ve written. Life is about finding happiness and sharing happiness with others. If we can spread even a small amount of happiness to others, every moment making Tentacle Kitty is worth it.
Join "the Pink One" and friends as the whole tentacle kitty gang regales us with tales of action and adventure over tea! From hunting down cotton candy mice, to pirate hijinks, and mega convention run ins, this tome features stories for all readers, told only as a Tentacle Kitty can!
o The first graphic novel of the convention sensation Tentacle Kitty!
Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalpyse '91, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Award-nominated Magic Bullet.