Posts Tagged ‘alfred pennyworth’


The Pennyworth Secret

January 27, 2016

The Butler’s Pantry

If you follow Cat-Tales on any social media, you know we had some fun with #NationalHotTeaDay (Yes, that’s a thing.)  Alfred made himself available for Q&A about a subject very near to his heart, with this enticing carrot: if he was sufficiently impressed with the questions he received, he would reveal the secret for brewing tea which was *ahem* redacted from the scene in Polishing Silver: The Journal of Alfred Pennyworth where he teaches Selina.

It seems he was sufficiently impressed, and so the questions, the answers and the secret are all available on the nascent niche site that was never really developed: The Butler’s Pantry.

Congratulations, Cat-Tales readers, and Enjoy.


New Cat-Tales Covers

June 4, 2014

A few of the original Cat-Tales covers were due for a new paint job.  (Just showed my age, didn’t I?  Some old covers were due to be reimagined for a new generation of readers.)  At least 3 were, and one was suggested as a write in for the Catwoman-in-the-Batcave Wallpaper poll (still running, vote now.)

JLAin't: Tales of the Justice League

JLAin’t: Tales of the Justice League

 JLAin’t was the very first Cat-Tales spinoff, taking the Cat-Tales sensibility, humor and take on the characters and revisiting some stories from the Watchtower POV, while also telling some original tales.  It’s a thoroughly entertaining mini-series and I’ve never known a reader who didn’t wish there were more.


Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle in Cat-Tales: Go Rin No Sho

Cat-Tales: Go Rin No Sho

Go Rin No Sho takes its titles from a 16 Century manual on Samurai sword fighting “The Book of Five Rings” by Miyamoto Musashi.  Naturally Bruce has made a study of it, applying its principles to the management of his double life in the same way Wallstreet’s Gordon Gekko applied The Art of War.   Like the original, Go Rin No Sho breaks down into a chapter of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Void – but the problem examined and the crisis Bruce faces has little to do with war.  The crisis he faces is that Selina has moved into the manor.  How can Bruce Wayne be a playboy with a live-in girlfriend?

Polishing Silver: The Journal of Alfred Pennyworth

“A real, meaningful, beautiful story showing just how that death affects all of the characters we care about, who have real feelings like real people, and like real people are interconnected by a complex web of emotions and relationships.”

Polishing Silver: The Journal of Alfred Pennyworth is on everyone’s Top 5 list, including mine.   ‘Nuff said.

Batman, Superman and Catwoman, the real Big 3, vs Luthor in Cat-Tales: War of the Poses

Cat-Tales: War of the Poses

Sly was just trying to get through the opening night of Vault without running out of bourbon.  He never meant to crown Catwoman “Queen of the Underworld” but somehow…   Thing is, the Lex Luthors of the world have a way of noticing stuff like that.

The War of the Poses cover, with Selina in that iconic skirted costume in a burning batcave, was the write-in suggestion from the poll.  Fear not, NostalgiCore, you will get your wallpaper also, but I decided if I was going to do it, we may as well have it for the cover of the story that inspired it.


Spotlight: Polishing Silver

November 19, 2012

One is pleased to usher in Alfred Pennyworth week.  All week long, I’ll be spotlighting elements from Polishing Silver: The Journal of Alfred Pennyworth


Adopting Alfred’s addictively understated voice to tell an entire story from his unique, deeply personal point of view was probably the most challenging fun I’ve had writing the Tales.  He has such amazing insights into all of the Bat Family, and he can offer up details of their lives and his own that we can credibly learn in no other way.  He is simply a wonderful mind to get inside.


A short while ago, the master’s partnership with Superman obliged him to travel to a nether dimension called Apokolips.  They were victorious in so far as defeating that realm’s overlord, Darkseid—due in large part to the master’s own strategy and resolve.  One could not help but feel proud of the accomplishment.  Neither could one help noticing that the aura of that vile place had permeated the master’s costume.  In the end, it had to be burned.

One naturally did one’s best to launder the garment before taking so drastic a step.  In those few days before we determined the entire costume did, in fact, have to be replaced, the revolting stench, best likened to rotting eggs and gasoline, congealed in the close air of the costume vault.  I have been battling it ever since.

Unlike the master’s decisive routing of Darkseid, my own fight against the lingering stink of his realm has been a prolonged war of attrition.  Tonight’s careful sniff did reveal a faint hint of the foul smell returning where the cape had hung.  I went at once to the chemistry lab and poured a few tablespoons of a particular clear liquid into a small flat petri dish.  I returned this to the costume vault to evaporate.  By morning, no trace of the odor will remain…

Polishing Silver goes ‘downstairs’ at Wayne Manor to first establish the routine of the man running Batman’s house, and then to follow the story of Stephanie Brown’s death and its aftermath.  It’s in nearly everyone’s top 3 favorite Cat-Tales, and I heard a good few complaints when the 10th Anniversary “Look Back” featured Identity Element instead.

You can read Cat-Tales – Polishing Silver: The Journal of Alfred Pennyworth online on the Cat-Tales website or download it to go as an ebook or in high-quality pdf for printing.


My Favorite Scrooge

December 25, 2011

Alfred Pennyworth himself, Michael Caine, is the Best Ebenezer Scrooge ever

My favorite Scrooge is Alfred Pennyworth himself, Michael Caine.  The reason is uniquely Deevian: you spend enough time in theatre, certain shows become as familiar as Sunday mass to a strict catholic.  Every year, just like the ballet does The Nutcracker and the art museum does a Festival of Trees, every theatre company in town does some form of A Christmas Carol. 

Those lines that are pure Dickensian beauty lose their meaning through so much repetition:

“Keep Christmas in your own way and let me keep it in mine.”

“If I could work my will, every idiot who goes around with a ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips would be boiled in his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart”

“I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I cannot afford to make idle people merry.”

On Michael Caine’s lips, each one of those oh so familiar lines were fresh, completely new.  The scene and therefore the man and his story became entirely new.  I can’t imagine how he did it, how he found such insight, such an angle or inspiration to bring these words to life as never before–without changing a comma.

Because that’s the other thing about the annual theatre Christmas Carols.  Just like comics, there are those who have the daft idea that nobody wants to see it the way it’s always been done, who have to wreck it with the idea that they’re putting their individual stamp on it: they give us the Homeless Christmas Carol, the hip hop Christmas Carol, and the horror fest Scrooge:Scared Straight that makes Tim Burton seem like a perfectly normal, well-adjusted guy without any creepy fixations on Christmas, snow, clowns, stitches or raising the dead.  It never works, the audience flocks to the theatres who understand that the public wants the familiar on these things, that we want the traditional, the ritual.  Every year The Nutcracker is done exactly the same way.  Every year it’s a pine tree covered with lights and ornaments and not a pile of coat hangers strung with silly string.  Every year it’s a turkey, ham or goose and not fish n’ chips.  Things have been done this way forever because it’s right.

Michael Caine’s Scrooge made Ebenezer Scrooge new and fresh the right way – which is the hard way.  I still have no idea how he did it, but there is one more thing that makes the feat insanely brilliant: He was playing to plush.

Michael Caine Christmas Carol stayed true to the essence of the material

He was delivering those lines to a goddamn muppet.

I cannot wrap my brain around it, but there it is.

No wonder Nolan cast him to play an Alfred who was unique to his storyverse but absolutely true to the essence of the character.


A Look Back Year Three: Splitzville

March 29, 2011

It was hard to select a single episode from for this week’s look back. Year Three began with a fellow called Giggles waltzing into the Iceberg for a job as interim bartender and we all still smirk at the response when Oswald asked his real name. That was the Hell Month when Bruce asked Selina to move into the manor, not even realizing he’d done it until a scary moment on that Cartier’s rooftop. It was the year he discovered a certain cat figurine in the curio in his bedroom “To Candice, from BW.” It was the year we first heard the DEMON Oath of Loyalty (in the long form, if you please) and witnessed the formal ceremony of Calling an Ubu. It was even when we found out the Ha-Hacienda SOP for a Bat-Encounter, beginning with the order to smile… politely. Then smile like you know something about Batman’s sister…

But in the end, despite all this moments of purring purple cattitude, one chapter in one tale stood out.

Whiskers trotted across the Great Hall of Wayne Manor like a cat on a mission. He trotted up the grand staircase, down the hallway, and made a brisk turn into Selina’s suite.

ººFOUND IT!ºº he declared with such a gleam of feline triumph, Nutmeg actually lifted her head several centimeters from the cushion where she napped, and looked at him.

ººI found it!ºº the cat repeated, ººI found that cave smell!ºº

Nutmeg yawned.

ººThe cave smell,ºº Whiskers insisted, ººDamp. Clammy. Rock. When Bat-Bruce is Two-Foot in Boots.ºº

Nutmeg licked a paw, unable to share Whiskers’s enthusiasm for their new quarters. Most of the furniture had come with them to this new place, but not Selina-cat’s bed, and hence, not Nutmeg’s war room underneath Selina-cat’s bed. All of Nutmeg’s prized trophies: the plastic milk ring, the crunchy envelope, the paper ball, the pantyhose egg, had all been lost along with her special place for keeping them. Whiskers suffered a loss as well: his terrace and the prize spot behind the planter where he pretended to be the stalking jungle cat of death. But his special cushion was here, so he didn’t mind so much. Indeed, he seemed to look on the new place as a great adventure.

ººSo,ºº Nutmeg said finally, deciding to give Whiskers his moment of glory, ººyou found the smell?ºº

ººBehind the tick-tock. Tick-tock opens up into big dark. Damp. Clammy. Rock. Lots of mousy squeak-squeak noise.ºº

ººNot interested.ºº

ººHow can anyone not like mice?ºº he asked. Whiskers was a life-long enthusiast of the gentlemanly sport of mousing. He didn’t understand how anybody could not enjoy it.

ººWoof.ºº came the reply, the ultimate expression of feline disdain.

Whiskers shifted his back legs in a telltale signal that he was ready to pounce. Then he hopped up to the sofa, rolled Nutmeg onto her side and nipped at her ear while her paw swatted his muzzle. When the brief wrestle was over, Whiskers touched the tip of his nose to Nutmeg’s, just as two martial artists might bow after a match. Then he sat up.

ººIf you don’t explore,ºº he told her sternly, ººyou’ll never find a new territoire.ºº

ººI explore,ºº Nutmeg said proudly, ººI followed Standing Softpaws today.ºº

ººAeiou!ºº Whiskers exclaimed in delight.

Both cats were equally fascinated by the two-foot they called Standing Softpaws. He was almost catlike in his ability to appear from nowhere and stare—which he did a great deal in their first days here. It seemed that he was keeping an eye on them, which they found insulting. They were certain he was the keeper of their new living quarters, for he had a wonderfully feline way of moving about the rooms, putting every little thing in its proper place. Few two-foots were so precise about where objects belonged. If only he would get over this idea that they had some grudge against his breakables.

“Adorable creatures, Miss,” they had heard him saying, “but I do fear for the Meissen and the Ming.”

That led to outrageous suggestions that they be locked in Selina-cat’s suite. They overheard Bat-Bruce veto the idea:

“Alfred, I’ll admit I don’t know all there is to know about cat behavior. But I have learned one thing: If you let them know you don’t want them to go in a particular place, it absolutely guarantees that will become the mission of their lives.”

“Respectfully, sir, is it not possible you are letting your experiences with Miss Selina cloud your-”

“No, Alfred. It’s not.”

“I see, sir.”

“Selina says leave the door open, and once they see they can come and go freely, they’ll probably stay in there with their familiar things after the preliminary explorations.”

“Very good, sir.”

Both cats thought Bat-Bruce should be rewarded for such admirable behavior: Whiskers did so by rubbing his head into the pantleg, while Nutmeg determined to claim one of his socks just as soon as she found a new war room in which to keep it.

She also resolved to settle the matter of Standing Softpaws.


Nutmeg observed that Standing Softpaws had again appeared at the door to the room. He was, Nutmeg would have to admit, almost as silent as a cat. Neither Bat-Bruce nor Selina-cat were as quiet as they seemed to think. Like all two-foots, their ears were simply too far from the ground to be able to move with true stealth. But Standing Softpaws was the exception to the rule: here he was, staring at her, and Nutmeg had no idea how or when he arrived.

She stared back, politely.

And he walked away.

This struck her as unforgivably rude, even for a two-foot. She had interrupted her nap in order to return his stare, and he walked away. She decided right then that he should be taught a lesson. She would follow him to his own nap-place and look at him, see how he liked it!

She followed down the hall, down the stairs, and down another hallway. She followed through the bright room and the drafty room and the room with all the books. She stopped long enough to rub her scent into the doorway. She liked books, they had a warm, crisp smell and were fun to curl in when Selina-cat tried to read them. Then Nutmeg trotted faster to catch up with Standing Softpaws wherever he had gone to… she rounded the corner and… gaped.

It was the Land of the Can-Opener. It was the biggest, grandest, sparkling Land of the Can-Opener any cat had ever seen! And Standing Softpaws was its king???

Instantly, Nutmeg decided she had misjudged this wise and noble two-foot. She would find him and make amends at once.


Nutmeg was not actually able to locate Standing Softpaws to make her apologies until the harsh squeal led her to his location. She recognized the sound—it was a teakettle, and it meant there would be little plates with cake and sometimes sandwiches. She saw Standing Softpaws take just such a plate into a little pantry-like room off the kitchen. There he sat, in a hard-looking chair that offended Nutmeg’s feline sensibilities. Beside him was a little table. From her position on the floor, she could not see onto the table, but her nose told her the steaming hot tea was on there, which meant the cake would be too.

She walked up to Standing Softpaws and treated him to the “aren’t I precious” look.

“Good heavens, who let you in here?” was the less-than-welcoming greeting.

Nutmeg switched her posture from “aren’t I precious” to “what can you be doing over there that could possibly be more interesting than admiring me ?”

He appeared to ignore her, then glanced down twice as he sipped his tea. Nutmeg waited for the third glance, readying herself to perform the ultimate act of feline beguilement: the silent miaow.*

The moment came—Standing Softpaws reached for his tea, brought the cup to his lips, and glanced downward. Nutmeg opened her mouth as she would for a fully articulated meow, but emitted no sound. Standing Softpaws watched this, as all two-foots do, as if pondering what possible burden could so plague a little creature that she could not even give voice to it. He set down his cup, and bent to take Nutmeg into his lap.

“Now then, little fellow, it can’t be as bad as all that, can it? I suppose this house is rather large and daunting for someone like you to get used to.” He touched his fingertip to Nutmeg’s nose, which she permitted, as it seemed like a friendly gesture, and also because it smelled like tea. “But I assure you,” he went on, now stroking her fur as he spoke, “that you are not the first newcomer here, and, thus far, all new residents of Wayne Manor have made the adjustment.”

He gave her a morsel of cake and told her of Master Dick and Master Jason, and his efforts to make them welcome when they came to live here. They sounded, to Nutmeg, like two of the sorriest cats she ever heard tell of.

Read the complete tale now on the Cat-Tales website or

Chris Dee

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