So I'm exactly one week removed from revealing Ki-Chan to you all, and you must be wondering, what exactly is it about that yellow baseball cap?

If you were following me on my Facebook page, you likely saw the new artwork on the left leading up to last week's event. I teased drawings of Ki-Chan's cap along with a silhouette of random demons one day, Lucifer and Ki-Chan the next and then a shadow of Ki-Chan and Panti just before the big reveal.

But why a yellow baseball cap?

Well just as I did last week, I'll have to take you back to April of 1995 to start telling the story.
So going back to my medically induced vacation from school, I woke up early, starring at the ceiling, after one of the most intense dreams of my eight years of life. As you recall, I had just seen Ki-Chan in my dreams, leading a team of super powered college students into a fight against the aforementioned demons. If for nothing else, just the sight of her, clad in a white t-shirt, blue jeans, white shoes and a yellow baseball cap, was burned into my brain forever. I scoured my mom's book and comic collection only to find nothing matching what I just dreamed of.

Dozens of times, I would draw her a little here and there, but as you recall, I didn't start writing anything down until I was 13 years old. So after my 13th birthday, I started writing feverishly in my green notebook.

Now the first couple of drafts.... sucked. I couldn't keep the sequence down, and I was jumping from point to point and couldn't keep anything straight. But finally, I started to scribble a rough draft that somewhat resembles what you will see on Amazon soon.

I let my mom take a peek of a few short pages, just to get her take. She was about to publish a few poems in a group book now out of print, so I figured I'd let a published author critique it first. But before I go further, a side note, dear reader, about Ti-Chan.

From day one, his nickname has always been Ti-Chan, but it took me a while to decide on a real first name for him. I toyed with either naming him Tommy or Toby, but I wasn't happy. I wanted everybody to have names you wouldn't expect. So reading in a leftover baby name book, I picked out Kameko, Ruey, Marlowe and Cecil, while Silas, Lily and Violet came to me in my dreams. Techno was named for a paper I had done on suffix and prefix origins while Ki-Chan's full name Kiana comes from a lesson I had on how some words in Japanese are a hybrid of Kanji and Hiragana. (Her name is actually a spell, but I'm saving that for a later story.) But still I couldn't decide on what Ti-Chan's first name should be.

Well getting back to my mom, she read and re-read Ki-Chan's rough dialogue. Her speech impediment was somewhere between Lil' Abner and Popeye, showing my affinity for old comic strips. 

For the record, I'm not trying to make fun of those with speech problems, my point with her is that it's nice to have a superhero with special needs take the lead, rather than sit in the background. Aside from Marvel's Daredevil, there aren't too many superheroes with special needs that appear as the star of anything these days and they're usually in the background.

After getting used to Ki-Chan's rough speech, my mom looks up over the top of her glasses.

"This kid reminds me of The Yellow Kid."

I went to the library to look that one up, and I smiled at what I saw.
Exactly 100 years and two months before my first dream, newspapers began running a new series called The Yellow Kid, starring the title character, a former side character created by Richard F. Outcault who became a champion to inner-city children everywhere. But more than just providing a few laughs about daily life, this kid also had a cheeky side. A few comic strips raised eyebrows in the 1890's when the kid started taking a few tongue-in-cheek jabs at politics. Like Ki-Chan, he had a rough speech problem, but his most famous quirk came in the form of his yellow nightshirt, which often said the phrases he couldn't say, getting into the trend of wearing shirts with sarcastic sayings three quarters of a century before that started becoming popular. 

Now Ki-Chan's cap has always been yellow, I think my dream must have been based off of a cap I had at age four, but how funny is this that the two share the color yellow and have the same sort of speech? I hadn't read any of The Yellow Kid before I started dreaming, what a coincidence!

For the story, Ki-Chan's yellow baseball cap is her trademark, like a calling card, as she is rarely seen without it. She got the cap as a four year old, and it's the last link she has to her past. The demons know her by the cap first and by Basheeba second.

Well after becoming a merchandise vehicle, copycat and clone kids started appearing, and before long, he was a cultural icon. His later long-page stories eventually created yellow journalism, which was the predecessor to today's internet clickbait articles. But soon, he disappeared for a while, only to return a decade later with another Outcault creation...
Ten years after an abrupt disappearing act, The Yellow Kid returned to the Sunday funnies alongside childhood staple Buster Brown, a mischievous young boy, willingly dressed in a girl's sailor suit with wide eyes and bubbly, blonde locks. Next time your grandparents get on you for cosplaying, you can direct them to the above image.
How funny. First I get into Sailor Moon, a series about a bubbly, blonde girl in a sailor suit, and now I find Buster Brown, a bubbly, blonde boy in a girl's sailor suit. Hmm. I wonder if my Oma's insistent playing of The Sound of Music took a toll on my fragile, little mind? And how gender-stereotypical. Buster has a dog and Usagi has a cat. And how strange, both pets talk and are sarcastic. But on the flip-side, Usagi wears blue, a boy's color, while Buster wears pink, a girl's color. Hmm...

At the same time I was reading about these classic comic strips, I was still going through my mom's old baby name book to find Ti-Chan's first name. I would read a little of one book, turn the page, read a little of the next book, then go back to the first. As if serendipity, both the page in my mom's old book and the page for the book on cartoons I was reading turned to the same name....
Tige. That's the name!! It was different, old-timey and a name nobody was using. It just felt right.

..... It was also the name of Buster's dog.

But Buster's Tige is wonderful, likely the first talking pet character to consistently appear in a comic strip. Buster is sarcastic, questions the world around him, and often says the things the reader is thinking. This Tige would inspire many other animal characters, and thanks to his character, we have such popular characters as Brian Griffin on Family Guy, Charlie in the Porky Pig Looney Tunes shorts, and of course, Scooby-Doo among dozens of other funny dog creations. To have spun off that many characters, Tige must have one hell of a pedigree!

So as a nod to finding the name, it's written into Ti-Chan's bio that his mother found the name in an old book. I just neglected to specify which one.

I first read about Buster, Tige and The Yellow Kid at 13, two years removed from when I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up, and a few years after first dreaming of Ki-Chan. It's important not to forget these three characters, as they paved the way for much of the political and social comedy we often take for granted in cartoons and anime today.
 


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