Skip & Pip
It goes without saying that none of us live in a vacuum. The same applies for any neighborhood, real life or fictional. From the beginning of their first comic in February 2015, I never intended for Skip and Pip to be the only inhabitants of Rainbow Glade. Their world, where everyone is accepted for who they are, needed more friends.
Over the last couple of years I have created eight additional bunnies that represent some of the others which make up the LGBT+ rainbow. They were created as people asked for them.
"Can I see a bunny that represents who I am?"
Those bunnies often make guest appearances in my art (all of them are in the Friendsgiving Celebration) and can be found on products in my Redbubble store. But the plan was to have more than just bunnies. Where I live here in Seattle, neighborhoods are filled with people from all over the world. It was time for further diversity in Skip and Pip's neighborhood.
Enter Eva and Dora.
These two squirrels have been in the back of my mind for months. The plan was to introduce them in a full length comic, as inhabitants of a cozy treehouse near the Bunn-galow. They would get a nice "Welcome to the Neighborhood" introduction and a gift basket designed by Pip.
Eva and Dora decided they really needed to make their appearance much sooner. I won't deny I was inspired by the Women's March.
Eva and Dora are partners and the first lesbian couple to appear in Rainbow Glade. Not only are they partners, they are also parents to Kip and Ella. Kip the penguin has appeared a few times. Ella the bat made her debut in last year's Halloween comic. There was something about the idea of a little princess bat that captured my heart.
This could sound ridiculous to you...two squirrels parenting a penguin and a bat.
Through my journey of being a parent and my work as Catherine Dair, I have been blessed with meeting some of the most wonderful families. Beautiful families that have adopted children from around the world into their homes and loved them as their own. Children from countries thousands of miles away that look nothing like their adoptive parents. I've met gay and lesbian parents who are no less stellar at raising children than their heterosexual counterparts.
Eva and Dora are my tribute to those families. They deserve their stories to be seen as well.
One day while doing a lunchroom clean-up at my son's co-op school, I chatted with one of those Moms who has adopted children from outside the United States. She was frustrated at reactions she receives on a continual basis that the dark skinned child in her arms must not be hers as she is Caucasian. For this Mom (as other adoptive parents) he is just "my son". She wished for more blended family stories, so that their own would seem no more different than any other family.
Her story stuck with me. I had already conceived of Eva and Dora but hearing her frustration, I knew what direction I would go with them.
A squirrel (or two) adopting a penguin in this scenario doesn't seem so far fetched. Kip is out of his natural element, but it doesn't mean he can't thrive when loved by a family who wants him.
Eva and Dora - welcome to the neighborhood.
When I wondered why my lovely new friend Travis Mayfield had been silent for a couple of weeks, a quick visit to his Facebook page explained the sad reason. He and his husband Curtis had tragically lost their two year old son on April 10th.
I reached out to give my condolences. Travis, the social media director for Q13Fox News here in Seattle, has been a delightful supporter of my art and of Skip and Pip. He has highlighted them three times during various morning news programs.
Through Twitter I reached out and sent condolences. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child. Only those who have can really understand Travis' and his family's devastation. But only a couple of minutes after our conversation Stars came to me. I envisioned the entire comic and Skip and Pip's discussion about loss in about 45 seconds. That is a rare event. Normally I have to finesse the dialogue much more than that.
Quickly I grabbed my bullet journal and wrote it down in case I would forget how it played out in my head at that moment. I sketched it pretty much word for word.
To be honest, I was worried with this comic. This was new territory for Skip and Pip. Until now I had for the most part kept things lighthearted. Upbeat. This episode was far from that. Would fans of Skip and Pip feel okay with this more difficult subject matter? I parked it in my brain for more than a day, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. Anybody who creates anything I'm sure knows what it feels like to have an idea take over. Like an itch you have to scratch.
Onward I went with it. Crossed my fingers. A friend, author Alexis Hall, would later say to me when I expressed my worry to him, "It's okay to take people into sad territory if you take care of them while they're there."
I had hoped it would provide some solace to Travis and it did. What would come as a surprise to me is how it touched so many other people. So many kind messages were sent to me (and to Travis) about how they will now look at the stars with different purpose. A grief counseling center in Canada reached out and asked if they could add posters of "Stars" to their parent and child rooms.
That is incredibly humbling. Thank you for all the love you expressed for "Stars" and for keeping Travis in your thoughts.
And watch out for postcards. They show up in miraculous ways.
Wow! It is hard to believe that a year has passed since Skip and Pip made their debut. What an amazing year they have had. Their friends have taken them to places all over the world that I dearly hope to visit some day.
This year should be equally as exciting for them as I plan their first book. People want to know their backstory and how they met. It is in the planning stages!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for loving my little fuzzballs.
For the last year Skip and Pip have lived on my website. But as their universe began to grow it became clear they needed a home of their own.
Welcome to Skip and Pip's new hangout!
I dithered about whether their home should be skipandpip.com or pridebunnies.com. There were great reasons to choose either, as followers on my Facebook pointed out when I pondered the question. The pride bunny URL will point to this one as people will discover.
But why did I ultimately choose the one I did?
I am proud of my two little boy bunnies in love. (No pun intended!) It is an important aspect of who they are. It is my hope that Skip and Pip show the world that "love is love" and it doesn't matter who you love as long as you do it with all your heart.
But it is just one aspect of their personalities. The ever pragmatic Skip and the ditzy fun loving Pip have the same relationship hurdles, silliness and sometimes those sad moments that all couples have - it just happens to be they are a same sex couple. It was my decision to go the route that celebrates them as two individuals with all their various personality traits.
And maybe...just maybe...change some minds that might be closed along the way.
I think that even with this address, it can encompass their whole new expanding universe. "Calvin and Hobbes" had many characters as you well know.
Welcome to Skip and Pip's new home. I hope you visit often.
To their fans, my appreciation for you is immeasurable.
All images © Catherine Dair, LLC