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Comic Book / Omaha the Cat Dancer

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A sexually explicit Soap Opera about a feline stripper and her friends told with a sex-positive feminist point of view. The series started in 1978. The artist throughout the series has been Reed Waller, with the writing handled for the most part by Kate Worley until her death in 2004.

The titular character is a Cat Folk girl in her early 20s working as an ecdysiast... an exotic dancer, in the fictional town of Mipple City. Her boyfriend Chuck works as an artist and nominally supports her dancing career. After posing for a men's magazine centerfold, Omaha gets invited to a shady dance performance that results in Omaha and Chuck being dragged into a byzantine plot between various power brokers that includes Chuck's father Charles Tabey Sr. - one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the state. While dealing with the external political plots, the whole cast of characters also have to cope with complex emotional issues that can shatter their lives.

Once parodied by Robert Crumb in "Wichita the Rat Dancer".


  • The Alcoholic: Kurt Huddle. Was hired on by Charles Tabey Sr. to serve as Tabey's personal nurse to combat Tabey's mental illness during one of Kurt's benders. The steady employment and moral support from Charles kept Kurt sober.
    • He falls off the wagon after failing to stop Charles' suicide, and after breaking up with Shelley during a lover's spat. He gets better when Shelley comes back.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The entire cast, most of the time. Interestingly, the characters' feet have an atypically human appearance for this trope.
  • Big Bad: Originally was media magnate Andre DeRoc. Later it was Senator Bonner.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Chuck and Jerry succeed in stopping the plan to level A Block, but during the celebrations someone sets fire to a bar that ended up destroying most of that neighborhood anyway. While the construction project moves ahead, the politicians who tried to profit on the deal get caught when one of the conspirators, horrified an innocent man got killed during the fire, confesses to the cops. The question of "Who Shot Bonner?" gets resolved when Old Man Elandos confesses to it to protect the loyal Po family who carried out the hit Elandos ordered. Jo sells the incriminating Bonner photos to an adult mag, heading off for the brief fling of notoriety it will bring her.
    • Most of the major characters get together in the relationships they want. Chuck and Omaha help get a divorce from her first husband who's now free to marry his pregnant girlfriend, and frees up Omaha to marry Chuck at last.
  • Blackmail: Senator Bonner threatens Omaha by mentioning "David".
  • Broken Bird: Literally. Jo has some personal issues.
  • Cat Girl: Also Dog Girl, Rabbit Girl, Bird Girl, Fox Girl...
  • The Chessmaster: Charles Sr. is seen in the beginning playing with a chess board. He basically manipulates a lot of other characters - including his own son - like chess pieces.
  • Crossover: The "Images of Omaha" benefit series to pay for Reed Waller's medical bills featured pin-ups and artwork pairing Omaha with P'Gell from Will Eisner's The Spirit, Bob Burden's Flaming Carrot, Dave Sim's Cerebus the Aardvark, and the inhabitants of Larry Marder's Beanworld.
  • Cut Short: For a while. The series ground to a halt after Waller and Worley broke up, and it seemed that it would never be finished due to Worley's death. However, Worley's husband James Vance began writing new scripts from her notes, and the story was finally finished in 2013.
  • Deathbed Confession: Old Man Elandos - Maria's father and Chuck's grandfather - does this, just as he poisons himself before his brain tumor can kill him. The cops know Elandos is faking the confession of pulling the trigger himself, but without any other solid evidence, they're stuck with it. Elandos at least ordered the hit on Bonner, so it's true from a certain point of view. He takes full credit in order to protect the Po family.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Multiple times.
    • Didn't expect Charles Sr. at the peak of his plans to commit suicide.
    • Bonner, thinking he had just secured a humiliating victory over his enemy Chuck, didn't expect his hired "whore" Jo to pull out a gun and humiliate him with her own plan to protect Chuck and Omaha.
    • Which is topped by another unexpected surprise when someone shoots Bonner from outside the hotel room, catching Jo and Rob off-guard with a dead body and the police en route.
  • Disney Death: Omaha's best friend Shelly gets shot in the first issue. A couple of issues later, we find out she was Not Quite Dead. Also, Chuck was told by his (insane) dad that his mother had died when he was young. Guess who shows up in the middle of the story?
  • Dye or Die: Omaha dyes her hair blond when she argues with Chuck and leaves Mipple City, only to change it back to red when she reconciles with Chuck and returns. Her hairdresser noted that doing all that to her hair was a dumb idea and the process necessary to put it back was unpleasant enough to drive the point home.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Omaha. Flashbacks suggest Shelley and Omaha were more than friends. During the Bonner storyline, Jo kisses Omaha, hinting that Jo's plot to trap Bonner on camera committing his sex crimes is more for Omaha's sake than for Chuck.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Yes AND No. One issue would be couples hooking up, the next issue would focus on moving the plot forward with almost no sex at all.
    • Most of the major protagonists have had sex with one another at some point (except for the hetero guys, and with Rob who's gay). Jerry had sex with Omaha during the early storyline, although they remain friends and Jerry is fully loyal to Chuck.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: Other than Jo and Rob, who the readers know were in another room, who shot Bonner? The final chapter revealed It was Po's son, acting on orders from Old Man Elandos.
  • Evil Gloating: Both DeRoc and Bonner enjoy their rants. DeRoc even indulges while he's in the middle of the opening chapter's orgy, to where the girl he's with openly asks "who are you talking to?"
  • Faking the Dead:
    • Shelley gets shot in the first issue, but by issue 3 it's revealed she barely survived. Most of her storyline involves her - a dancer - coping with being wheelchair-bound for possibly the rest of her life.
    • Chuck's mom Maria. She was forced by Bonner to abandon Charles Sr. and baby Chuck when he threatened to expose her brother as gay. Chuck was told that she had died.
  • Femme Fatale:
    • Althea. She's basically sleeping her way to the top, first in Tabey Industries (by sleeping with Jerry, who quickly finds out how mercenary she is) and then by trying to sleep with Chuck when Omaha's run off during their break-up. Chuck tosses her out, and Althea quits the firm the next day. She then works her way into the corrupt mayor's circle of businessmen behind the A Block demolition and seems to be a major player. Subverted in the end that, while she uses her sex with the mayor to get a sweet deal heading the convention center's eventual construction, she didn't have anything to do with the explosion that took out A Block. The mayor (partly to cover his own ass) claims "she's the only innocent one in this whole deal."
    • Jo starts out behaving like this, but turns out to be a good person at heart.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: The entire cast has them. Justified, since animal paws have about four toes.
  • Foreshadowing: When Jerry muses during the week Bonner gets shot about all the schemes going on, and in hindsight how "None of us knew that something was about to happen that would make all plans pointless... Well, maybe one of us knew..." Look to see who else is in the room with Jerry when he thinks this.
  • A Friend in Need: Omaha, frustrated at seeing Chuck doped up in the mental hospital and wonders she is bothering to visit him. At that, Huddle asks her a simple question, "Are you his lover, or are you his friend?" At that, she chooses to go to the hospital as the latter.
  • Gambit Pileup: During the week that Bonner gets killed and Chuck and Omaha break up.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: It's revealed that both Charles Sr. and Chuck suffer from manic depressive mood swings. When Chuck finds out what Bonner did to his mother, he snaps and begins acting as manic as his father until he had to be forcibly sedated when they find him raving in his father's home. When we see Chuck again, he's on a mental institution and is SO stuffed of drugs that he doesn't even knows what is going on anymore. Fortunately, he gets better.
  • Happily Ever After: Omaha, now divorced, is free to marry Chuck. Before they celebrate their honeymoon, Chuck resigns his control of his father's company, freeing himself from that twisted legacy.
  • Hidden Depths: In Vol. 7, when we see how the various characters are spending Christmas Day, we see Jo praying during Christmas Mass and wearing a crucifix, implying she was raised Catholic and still holds to the beliefs somewhat. It's never followed up afterward.
  • Hide Your Lesbians:
    • Averted. Rob, the major gay character, gets his fair share of sex just like the heteros. The main characters have friendly and open relations with the gay/lesbian community and are viewed as equals.
    • Played straight with Maria, who surrenders to Bonner's blackmail in order to protect her gay brother from public exposure.
  • Humanlike Foot Anatomy: All the characters have totally humanoid feet.
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: While very sexually explicit, critics who favorably reviewed the comic noted the high degree of storytelling and specified that Omaha is not a pornographic comic.
  • Karmic Death: Bonner. A hypocritical moral crusader who gets shot in the head while tied up in a hooker's bedroom. Granted, Jo was trying to set up him for blackmail instead of murder, but Bonner earned his fate.
  • The Lancer: Jerry, Chuck's friend and Charles' most competent underling.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Charles Sr. and Chuck. They even look alike... naked.
    • They also share some unhealthy traits, like manic depression.
  • Mature Animal Story: The story is about an anthropomorphic feline stripper and her relationship with an artist, not to mention plenty of sex. That said, it touches on sexual topics and there are issues without any explicit sexual content.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut:
    • Chuck is well aware of Omaha's job as a stripper: it's how they met. He does think they are in a sexually monogamous relationship, except for when Jo offered a threesome. He doesn't know that Omaha was once married, and she never got a divorce. When Omaha tells him to defuse Bonner's threat, Chuck freaks and they break up.
    • Speaking of Jo, she and Chuck were dating before they broke up and Chuck met Omaha. They briefly rekindle their relationship while Omaha is out of the picture, but then Chuck walks in on Jo as she's servicing a John. Chuck quickly realizes Jo had been doing that back when they dated...
  • Odd Friendship: Old Man Eliandos ends up having Jo service him because he's lonely, even putting her up in a fancy apartment as thanks. They become rather close and she mourns him quite heavily when he's finally on his deathbed.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Susie "Susan" Jenson is the real name of the character but she's rarely called that by her friends. She's more commonly known as Omaha, hence the title.
  • Only Sane Man: Both Jerry and Kurt. Kurt even starts resenting it because he's both out of the loop during some of the plotting, and yet expected to keep everyone else in the circle of friends grounded.
  • Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: This trope is the blackmail Bonner tries to hold on Omaha. She tries to thwart it by confessing to Chuck herself, but he freaks out at this. Eventually, Omaha's husband contacts her and they arrange an amicable divorce.
  • Pride Before a Fall: How Bonner thinks he can beat Chuck like he earlier defeated Charles Sr.: "His pride." It almost works.
  • Rape as Drama:
    • At one point Chuck forcibly has sex with Omaha when she's clearly not in the mood and she ends up in tears. She later calls him on it, and he realizes he did something VERY wrong, so he makes up for it (by getting kinkier for her sake and organizing a threesome!).
    • What Bonner does to women is evil. Even the hookers in town are terrified of him, and warn Jo not to mess with him. Jo, however, has a plan...
  • The Reveal:
    • The main mystery of the series: Who shot Bonner? It turns out Po's son was hired by Chuck's grandfather Elandos, with Po's son interrupting Maria's showing up on her own to shoot the man who'd been torturing and raping her for years.
    • On a personal note, Kurt's rant during an intervention over his drinking forces Omaha and Chuck to confess some of their infidelities during their relationship. They each stun each other with a revelation that they'd slept with a friend the other didn't realize had done so - especially Omaha's revelation she slept with Jerry during her brief abduction by Charles Sr. during the first story arc.
      Chuck (stunned): Is there anybody we haven't slept with?
  • Sexual Karma: Mostly. Good people at least try to have good sex, but the emotional consequences flare up in some unexpected ways. Played straight with the villains, especially Bonner, who prefer using sex simply to achieve their personal ambitions.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing: Omaha does this during her appearance in Munden's Bar Annual, opening her trenchcoat to reveal to the bar's patrons that she wasn't wearing anything under it.
  • Shout-Out: The comic began as a sexy animal parody of Charlie's Angels (with Omaha, Jo and Shelly as the Angels). The parody aspect was quickly dropped for a Soap Opera storyline.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality:
    • Hoo boy, it would take a team of sociologists to measure this. The society in Omaha's world looks down on sex, and has men in powerful offices abusing women as sex toys. On the other hand, Omaha and her friends are open about their sexual choices, pursue relationships with nice guys like Chuck and Jerry who treat women with equal respect, and are willing to stand up publicly to defend themselves and their life choices.
    • When Omaha flees Chuck during their break-up, she travels to a small town, dyes her hair and tries to find "respectable" work as an office secretary. She quickly discovers the pay is lousy compared to her job as a stripper, that the women are forced to do all the work, and that the men who "run" the office are sexist bastards. She quits before the day is even over and heads straight for the nearest strip club to get more honest work there.
  • Three-Way Sex: Both girl/boy/girl and boy/girl/boy.
    • Omaha and Chuck are involved both times. First with Jo in the GBG, when Jo was hired by Charles Sr. to babysit them. Then during the BGB with the guy Omaha dated during her break-up with Chuck.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: What Chuck is terrified of doing Especially after his father dies and Chuck is left in control of Charles' empire... and schemes.
  • Wham Episode: It's a Soap Opera, there's one about every three episodes.
    • "Everybody was busy that week... mostly plotting. None of us knew that something was about to happen that would make all plans pointless... Well, maybe one of us knew..."
  • World of Funny Animals: The comic strip is set in a fictionalized version of Minneapolis with feline and other animals.