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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.
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.
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...
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....
..... 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.