All the whirls of color and clashing costumes can really start to mess with your head after a while. Just when you thought you’d seen every last Avengers interpretation on the planet, you notice that Iron Man has sprouted two pointy cat ears at the top of his maroon-and-gold helmet. He also seems to have paws balled into fists and a long, armored tail hanging from his booty. No, you’re not seeing things. Iron Man has turned into IronMeow — at least in illustrator Angie Hu’s nook of the internet.
Iron Man is not the only familiar face who Hu converted into a cat. Captain America, Batman, and Wolverine are also among the superhero mainstays onto whom Hu imparts her signature feline makeover, transforming them into Captain AmeriCat, BatMeow, and Catverine. She doesn’t limit herself to superkitties, either. Some of her recent Instagram posts on @hupaints are dedicated to whiskered, cat-eared versions of Dumbledore, Sailor Moon, Gordon Ramsay, and Bob Ross. For Hu, the paws-ibilities are endless.
It all started with Hu brainstorming ideas about how to turn heads with her art. “I knew that people love superhero fan art, so I was thinking about what I should do for superhero-related works. I am not a fan of doing other people’s character designs, so I wanted to recreate the characters in my own way,” Hu says. “Since I am a cat lover, I designed this cat fan art based on cats’ behaviors, starting from the superhero characters that I am more familiar with.”
Hu was shocked to receive her own booth at her first Artists’ Alley at WonderCon Anaheim in 2014 and found herself surrounded by professional artists. She didn’t let that intimidate her though, and she held true to what she loves: cats. While all of the comic book artists around her were showcasing more serious versions of Marvel and DC art, Hu’s work shined through because it was different. She caught the attention of the crowds with her postcards and prints featuring cat adaptations of famous characters in humorous scenarios.
In fact, the fan reactions are what keep her coming back. “It’s really fun to have a table at conventions because people often scream when they see my work,” Hu says. “I love seeing their expressions, and it’s totally an artist ego boost for me. I often get people standing in front of my table confessing: ‘I am a cat lover and I love your work.’”
Hu is an animal lover at heart, with two cats of her own. Her first cat is a friendly and gentle tuxedo cat named Minnie, who she credits with converting her into a cat person years ago. Maru the tabby cat — who now lives with Hu in Taiwan — is a “mama’s boy,” who Hu’s friends say was her lover in a past life.
She’s not married to cats though: Hu also draws Game of Thrones characters in their human forms (Arya is her favorite character), animated and more realistic versions of fictional women, Halloween-themed sketches, and other animals. Hu says that her favorite types of designs are art nouveau, art deco, and steampunk. She also cites Disney artist and Netflix Art Director Joey Chou’s work (which adorned her office walls when she worked as a digital designer for Disney) and DreamWorks animator Nico Marlet’s character design (he drew the adorably big-eyed dragons in How to Train Your Dragon) as inspirations. She gives some credit to sifting through art books, Pinterest, and art pages on Facebook, too. Watercolor and ink are Hu’s preferred methods of creating. Now, she also uses the digital illustration app Procreate on an iPad Pro for her designs.
Growing up, Hu had dreams of becoming a manga artist. She began drawing and painting when she was in kindergarten, and she attended a vocational art and design high school in Taiwan, where she was born. She lived in the U.S. for 20 years, then moved back to Taiwan in 2016, where she began her own artist agency and licensing company called Hu Creates Co. She now runs the popular Kitties Art Gallery Facebook page and reps Bu2ma, a comic artist and designer toy creator who is well-known in China for his 365 daily dinosaurs and Fat Tiger sketches.
Hu has not participated in any of the virtual conventions in the U.S. over the past year, but she represented Bu2ma at a designer toy convention at the Taipei Toy Festival last November to showcase designer toys based on his Fat Tiger artwork. Hu helped license his art to the manufacturer Mighty Jaxx to make collectible figures that were sold at the festival. She also helped Bu2ma launch digital stickers for the LINE mobile messenger app and is currently working with Taiwan Sanrio to create a sticker set featuring Fat Tiger and Hello Kitty interacting together.
One of her goals is to license her own art as well. Although the busy start-up lifestyle occupies most of Hu’s time now, there are more fur-miliar faces on the horizon. She plans to create more Marvel kitty superheroes and Jedi cats this year, as well as a series of eye-rolling cats. “I used to have a lot of pressure doing art to please people and to find work,” Hu says. “Now, I just want to do what I enjoy doing.”
This article was original published in Issue No. 10 of the Pop Insider. Click here to read the full issue!