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November 11, 2011

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Today's Comic
Looking Back: Jhim's Kitty

November 21, 2011

So, I'm nearing the tenth anniversary of this comic. It's weird for a number of reasons but I'll expound on that some other time. I feel like I should be doing something special for this event. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because we all place such value on anniversaries and milestones. My gut instinct is to just go on about business as usual, but I'm going to try to write a series of blog posts about certain storylines including information on why I did them and how readers reacted. If it's something you've already heard before, I apologize. Some of these are stories I've told before at cons or in posts elsewhere, but they'll be new to someone.

Let's start with the 2002 storyline, “Jhim's Kitty,” the storyline that brought both Jhim and Choo-Choo Bear into the comic. Of those two characters, only Jhim was meant to stick around. The original plan was to never use Choo-Choo Bear again. Like the older Cunningham son, Chuck, on Happy Days, I'd intended for Choo-Choo Bear of simply vanish with no explanation until around year five of the strip during a story where Davan was allowed to redesign his apartment by his landlord (who, by the way, was intended to be a reoccurring character but dropped for... reasons). While removing the ancient refrigerator, Aubrey would look behind it and this exchange occur:

Aubrey: Remember that cat you had a few years ago?

Davan: Huh?

Aubrey: The pink one Jhim found?

Davan: Oh yeah! He went missing almost immediately. I looked around the neighborhood but couldn't find him.

Aubrey: He's not lost anymore. Well, part of him isn't, anyway.

Choo-Choo was to be the first in a series of pets Davan simply lost. Readers, however, loved him. I got hundreds of emails asking me to keep him in the comic. I was going to, of course, ignore everyone because I'm an asshole. J. Grant (then drawing the comic Flem and now the artist for Two Lumps) talked me into keeping Choo-Choo Bear as a cast member. I wish I could pretend it was for some deep reasons but J. pointed out the cat was the closest thing I had to a marketable character in S*P. At the time, I doubted I'd ever do any form of merch, but I figured if nothing else Choo-Choo would be an easy thing to sketch at cons.

Since then, Choo-Choo has had more than his share of storylines and even been the focal point of crossovers with Queen of Wands and Girls With Slingshots. A lot of people ask why I don't use him often. I have two reasons. First, I don't want to have think of cat-centered strip after cat-centered strip. So, laziness. Second, and more important, I don't want people to get tired of Choo-Choo Bear so I use him sparingly. I've grown fond of the character, especially since he's gone from barely capable of solidity or control of his eyes to an animal with personality, so I try to be careful with how often he shows up.

Oh, and one more note on the original storyline. The first strip went up at midnight and then I looked through my LiveJournal friends page before going to bed. That's when I saw my friend Janice's cat had cancer.

And I'd just posted a comic about a chemo kitty.

I don't often feel bad about the comics I post but that time? I'm just glad Janice thought Choo-Choo was adorable. -R

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