‘The Panda, the Cat and the Dreadful Teddy’

Is Teddy misunderstood or is Panda just a vicious sod? Si Hart gets drawn into Paul Magrs’ world of snowy days, picnics and gin!

“Magrs’ glee in spoofing The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse is evident throughout the The Panda, The Cat and The Dreadful Teddy. Magrs’ artwork is an utter delight. It is simple but perfect, striking just the right balance between being childlike and more sophisticated than it seems at first glance. Likewise, the text is never a cruel spoof, but it is extremely funny. At almost every turn, Panda smashes Teddy’s optimistic outlook with a witty retort or more often than not a raft of expletives that never fail to bring a smile.  This is one very sweary Panda!”

Are you looking for inspiration for living a better life? Looking for pointers for how to be more mindful every day or is your life just a long line of blank pages waiting to be filled? Well, if it’s the latter, The Panda, The Cat and The Dreadful Teddy is the book for you because Paul Magrs has (mostly) filled the blank pages for you!

There’s been a spate of books over the last couple of years, designed to reassure adults that life is hard but you’ll get through it. The biggest of these has been The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy in 2019. Its reassuringly positive messages, combined with some charming artwork which really caught the imaginations of many readers in an especially difficult year, becoming a bestseller in 2020.

Writer and artist Paul Magrs.

Enter the wonderful Paul Magrs, who seized the opportunity to spoof it. He unleashed the Panda, t Cat and Teddy on the world initially through his Instagram account, where the cynical Panda butted up against the constantly upbeat Teddy. Watching it evolve over the early months of this year was a joy. With the posts proving popular, Harper Collins snapped it up and have now published a collection of the inspirational adventures of Panda, Cat and Teddy.  

Magrs’ glee in spoofing The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse is evident throughout the The Panda, The Cat and The Dreadful Teddy. Magrs’ artwork is an utter delight. It is simple but perfect, striking just the right balance between being childlike and more sophisticated than it seems at first glance. Likewise, the text is never a cruel spoof, but it is extremely funny. At almost every turn, Panda smashes Teddy’s optimistic outlook with a witty retort or more often than not a raft of expletives that never fail to bring a smile.  This is one very sweary Panda!

Is Teddy misunderstood or is Panda just a vicious sod? Sometimes it’s hard to know which viewpoint to take. I imagine living with someone as outrageously upbeat and positive as Teddy would be incredibly wearing and so it’s easy to be swept up in agreement with Panda’s constant undercutting of his happy messages. That said, Panda is a backstabbing, gin loving git who is just in love with being contrary. Maybe the Cat has it right and the best place is just to be friends with them both and try and avoid being the target for either of them. I might be overthinking this, but it’s really easy to be drawn into their world of snowy days, picnics and gin!

It’s lovely to see those moments between them where they show they’re really good friends underneath it all.  That rings so true because we all have friends that we spar with or take the piss out of, but underneath there’s a deep bond. It’s those moments that show Magrs’ genius. It’s not just a simple spoof; this is a world we all know and deep down sometimes we’re all a bit like the Panda, aren’t we?

I can’t recommend The Panda, The Cat and The Dreadful Teddy highly enough. Both the writing and the artwork are utterly delightful and I feel like if I reveal the many pages I have laughed at and the ones I’ve really liked will ruin some of the surprises in this book. If that feels like a cop out in a review, go get yourself a copy of this wonderful book and you’ll find out what I mean. Just don’t tell Panda that sometimes the Teddy is right!


‘The Panda, the Cat and the Dreadful Teddy: A Parody’ By Paul Magrs was published by Harper Collins, September 30, 2021. RRP £9.99.

Simon Hart has been a regular contributor to We Are Cult since its inception in September 2016 and he co-hosts Maximum Power: A Blake’s 7 Podcast: Follow @MaximumPowerPod.

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