Catena is a fairly popular weekly webcomic produced by DeBray and Tracy Bailey. Tracy began it in 2003, before their marriage, and in recent years it has become a team effort. It follows the adventures of a household full of anthropomorphic cats. Rarely serious, the strip includes abundant pop culture references and snarky, punny humor.The main cast includes:
Treiss A mild-mannered but quirky snow leopard, who moved to California because she hates the cold. She's essentially the protagonist, and the world is mostly seen through her eyes.
Belle The chatelaine of the feline manor. Beautiful, confident, and a bit of a Tsundere; it's anybody's guess why she tolerates her boarders.
Bear A thick-chinned black-and-white Manx cat with aspirations of world conquest.
Patches Bear's younger sister, a less-than-brilliant blonde who seems to think it's permanently 1984.
Buddy A surfer dude Maine Coon, Bear's best friend.
Beau Buddy's older brother, one of the angels who hangs around the house.
Mr. Cuddles A purple tarantula who is theoretically Buddy's pet. He wants to free his fellow spiders from oppression and return them to their rightful place as the dominant species.
Other recurring characters:
Bryony The other angel, Patches and Bear's sister. She has pink wings.
Hank The friendly dog next door, who hangs out with the guys a lot.
Ivy An old schoolmate of Bear and Patches, now an actress.
Annie The daughter of the pet shop owner from whom Buddy purchased Mr. Cuddles. She's younger than the other characters and doesn't show up as often.
Reaper As in the Grim. Other than as the object of Bryony's affections, it's hard to say why he's here. It's okay, though, because he doesn't seem to understand why he's here either.
In fall 2011, the comic went on hiatus as the creators prepared to give it a Re Tool. The revamped comic returned to regular updates in August 2012, and will have a more consistent, less pun-driven storyline; additionally, the angelic characters are being remade as being alive, while Mr. Cuddles appears only as a plush animal. The original format of the series can still be enjoyed in the archives.
Anachronism Stew: The strip takes place in modern times, but Patches has yet to notice that The Eighties are long gone, and Treiss regularly dresses like she's just come from the Renaissance faire.
Anime Hair: All of the cats were originally drawn with this, before the series began; of the original cast, only Belle and Bear kept the look. Bryony, Annie and Ivy, who all came in later, also have it.
Art Evolution: Originally, the characters were drawn in a slightly more cartoony, slightly Disney-esque manner, and the strip was in black and white. First, color was added in, and eventually there was a rather dramatic style shift to a slightly more anime-esque style. The most noticeable aspect of the shift was Bear, who went from simply having a slightly large chin to having a chin that makes up half the volume of his head.
Since the Re Tool, the strip has been drawn in grayscale, with a more realistic style.
Art Shift: Seemingly at random or when someone is dreaming.
Big Brother Instinct: It is...unwise...to speak slightingly of Patches, or to even give Bear the idea that you're thinking negatively of her. She drives him crazy, but you don't mess with Bear's sister.
Big Brother Mentor: Beau. He actually is Buddy's big brother, but also tries to be one to the rest of the crew at times, which they don't always appreciate.
Call Back: In the very first strip, Treiss reads an ad for a vacancy in Catena Manor, which leads to her living with the housemates. In the first strip of the Re Tool, she reads the exact same ad - and scoffs at it, wondering who would fall for a setup like that.
She later gets side tracked by a cuple of pretty outfits in a store window...namelt her old outfits from before the retool.
Cats: In the storyline where Ivy joins the cast, the housemates go see the musical People. (Think about it.)
"If people go to see Cats, wouldnt cats go to see People?"
Cats Are Mean: Generally averted, although Belle has her moments.
Christmas Special: Every year. There are usually also special strips for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and occasionally Valentine's Day and Easter.
Clingy Jealous Girl: Ivy behaves like one of these when she realizes Bear is paying attention to another girl.
Creator Cameo: Both Tracy and DeBray have appeared occasionally in the strip usually by themselves, although Tracy has shared a strip with Belle at least once. Tracy once even appeared in a Darth Vader mask.
Dada Comic: The comics during Patches' dream possibly count. It gets weirder as it goes.
Funny Foreigner: Treiss is of some unspecified Eastern European background, a fact which only becomes evident when her wacky parents come to visit.
Gamer Chick: Subverted. Annie isn't a very good gamer, but she's enthusiastic, and eventually "bribes" her way into Bear's gaming group... with a medieval flail.
Genre Savvy: When Bear falls asleep playing Oblivion, he dreams he is in the game. He almost immediately realizes what's going on:
Bear: Oh. I get it. This is like when Gilligan falls asleep and there's a humorous Dream Sequence where everyone else on the island is some wacky character in his dream. *beat* I always hated those episodes. Fortunately, I'm a master of lucid dreaming. Time to have some fun...
No Fourth Wall: The characters occasionally address the readers directly, usually to announce hiatuses or for other similar purposes.
Oblivious to Love: Hank the dog is completely unaware that Treiss has a crush on him.
Of Corsets Sexy: Treiss wears one just about every day, and in one storyline, Belle drags her to the mall for a more modern one.
One of Us: Or rather, the Baileys qualify as two of us. A large majority of their nerdy interests show up in the strip itself; additionally, DeBray has written product manuals and Tracy is a published comic book artist and colorist.
Surprisingly though, it's also an example of No Swastikas, as while Hank is shown wearing the little red armband, the swastika itself is never shown, with the arm its on being not in frame, or being covered by something else. The most you see of it is a little black squiggle in the center of the white circle.