"Always speak of the past, gratefully, of the future, excitedly, and of the present with bobbing eyebrows and a Cheshire grin" -The Universe
Friday, November 19, 2010
Guest Blogger, Michele Tilford, The "Purrson" Behind Kokoro Purrs!
It is my pleasure to introduce you to Michele Tilford the creator of the adorable comic "Kokoro Purrs". I met Michele late Spring or early Summer when I first started "tweeting" and she has never failed to make me smile with her adorable creations! She is also responsible for my new love of the breed of cat known as the "Ragdoll".
I wanted to introduce people to the adorable "Kokoro Purrs" who may not be familiar with it. Who better to tell us about Michele and Kokoro than, you got it, Michele herself! Enjoy!
Yes, There is a Person Behind the Cat.
This is a switch, usually Kokoro is the one being featured. I’ll have to keep myself from writing as my fluffy ragdoll. MOL, oops, this might be more difficult than I thought. The idea of doing a comic started with a grand calculated plan. I wanted to be involved in a pet assisted therapy program, I needed a new career and I have a BFA. My solution, get a ragdoll cat. (At least in my world, getting a ragdoll would be the answer to all my problems.) Not having the patience to get a ragdoll through one of the pure breed adoption services (it was also an 8 hour drive up to Northern California), I found a wonderful breeder, Connie Walters of Sweet Heaven Rag Dolls. In addition to her wonderful cats, Connie trains dogs to be service animals. She was happy that I wanted one of her kitties to train as a therapy cat.
From the first glimpse of his vivid blue eyes and one chocolate ear, I was in love with , “my fuzzy heart”. Kokoro a name suggested by my daughter, means “heart” in Japanese. Kokoro was a singleton , a litter of one. This may be the reason he prefers the company of people to other animals. Koko views other animals more as a form of amusement, as opposed to prey or a threat. From the very beginning, we thought that he would have the right personality for this important job. He’s always the first to run to the door when the front bell rings. He doesn’t seem to mind one bit when small kids scoop him up and give him hugs.
That’s how we got the Pet-Assisted Therapy (P-AT) part under way. With Kokoro I now volunteer at the San Diego Humane Society as part of their Pet-Assisted Therapy program. This leaves the career and the BFA. I’m hoping that going back to my art roots will lead to a new career. Yes, we all know how easy it is to make a living in the arts. As far as the plan, knowing that people love their pets and will spend money on said pets made me think that combining art and pets might lead to something that people will want. Who can resist a cute fluffy kitty with a silly sweet personality? This brings me to the comic.
Kokoro Purrs wasn't my first foray into the world of comics. The first one was a very limited edition, one frame comic, that ran most school days. It magically appeared each morning inside my then kindergartener's lunch bag. This one was also about cats, C. Cat Kitty and Poof. We still have most of the 180 pencil drawn comics. Funny, but it was because of that little exercise I thought I might have some of the enormous discipline required to do a comic. That and I tend to get obsessed with things. I never travel without a sketch book, and I look at everything as a possibility for a comic.
I took some refresher art classes, additional classes in Photoshop and Illustrator and jumped in! The first image of Kokoro that I liked was actually created by my daughter, an avid comic (both Japanese and American) lover. Hmmmm, I wonder if the lunch bag daily had anything to do with that? She very generously "gave" me the rights to the Kokoro image to do as I liked with. She still serves as my task master and art director. (I had to do, what felt like twenty logo's before I got her approval!) What will I do when she's off to college next fall?
There are really three comics, under the heading of "KokoroPurrs". The regular strip that I'm hoping as we get to visit more places, will document our experience at the various institutions Koko and I visit and the wonderful people we've met. Up till now it has mostly just been, what I call generic cat antics. I just enjoy illustrating a cat's life. So even though it's all under Kokoro, sometimes Oogie, our rescue tabby might be the inspiration or another cat. It's always those small things that seem to lift a person's day. I created The Dislike's/Likes comic so people could get to know the actual cat, Kokoro. The third comic, usually one frame, "Lofty Thoughts" is more personal. It's a place where I get to air my musings.
We are only just at the beginning of our journey. (The first comic was posted April 28, 2010). We post the comic weekly, a photo or written blog near weekly, and a monthly video. We haven't made a penny and that's just fine with us, for now. We're in this for the long haul. If this plan doesn't work, there's always our back up plan of world domination.