Join us as Catherine Dair goes Outside the Margins.
The Birth of Skip & Pip (or how two little gay bunnies took over my world and found a community who loves them)
Something quite strange has been happening in my life the last two months and I cannot quite wrap my head around it.
Two little bunnies have taken over every free waking moment.
People who are familiar with my artwork know I paint a wide variety of things. In the last six months my projects have included book covers, trading cards, romantic posters and avatars. I consider myself so lucky to be asked to contribute with my art in wonderful ways to LGBT romance.
But in my spare time (which I say laughing because I’m not sure what that is) I create original art for my Redbubble store. Early in 2014, I created the first bunny at the request of LA Witt in a collection of art that would soon be known as “the Plot Bunnies”. That lead to me thinking up a design for celebrating Gay Pride Month for June 2014 and the Pride Bunnies were born.
Dair Jr. and I wore the design on t-shirts to Seattle’s Gay Pride celebration in downtown. Our first stop upon arriving was the official merchandise booth to get our celebratory merchandise. Within seconds of walking up, a volunteer recognized the Pride Bunny design as a “Catherine Dair” piece of art and we had a fun talk when I introduced myself as Catherine Dair.
I should have seen that as a sign of things to come.
I gave out the Pride Bunnies on buttons at GRL2014 and it tickled endlessly see so many people sporting them. I hand them out in real life too. Always got a handful of them in my bag. But after a conversation with an author about what merchandise I might offer them on for 2015 my brain went into overdrive. A calendar maybe? They needed to be on more art obviously to accomplish this. So more art was created and the Pride Bunnies celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Day.
But when I started thinking about Valentine’s Day something amazing happened. Now I understand what authors mean when characters start “talking in your head.” These two little bunnies started yakking and wouldn’t shut up. Their personalities emerged based on two dear friends of mine and I realized quickly they needed a full multi-panel comic. And for that, they needed names. I ran a contest on my social media to “Name the Pride Bunnies” with the debut of the names in their first comic on Valentine’s Day. The names Skipper and Pippin won the contest.
“Skip & Pip (aka the Pride Bunnies)” started speaking.
There was a lot of conscious thought on my part on what I wanted them to represent. First and foremost of course was LGBT Pride. But I wanted the comics to be accessible to all ages. I thought of them as my own little ambassadors for “love is love”. They would show it in a not preachy, humorous fashion what any couple goes through in a relationship in a way that all ages could relate to. The ever-pragmatic Skip and the slightly ditzy Pip show the world that no matter how much they might bug each other from time to time, love wins out in the end. My two little boy bunnies demonstrate that it doesn’t matter who you love but that you do it authentically.
It seems to be working.
I work on the comics at times in the middle of a Catholic Church where the secular homeschool co-op my kids attend holds classes once a week. Kids crowd around me to see what Skip and Pip are up to and giggle at their antics. Nobody blinks an eye at the fact that they are the same sex bunnies. (I’m sure the Catholic elders might but I didn’t ask for their opinion). I’ve gotten a photo messaged to me from an author that shows her daughter proudly displaying her Skip and Pip button on her book bag.
Too many comments to count from friends on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr on how much they love these little furballs.
After the Valentine’s Day comic debuted, Dair Jr. made a passing comment that she wished they could be plushes. That sent my brain into overdrive. I researched several avenues and getting them mass-produced is out of my price range for now. But I found pre-made bunnies at local Targets that were dead ringers for Skip and Pip and with a bit of sewing and creativity they became the Pride Bunnies. I bought every single one at my six local Target stores.
￼Then the craziest thing happened. Followers offered to find them at their Target stores and started mailing them to me. The “Bunny Patrol” was born, bless their souls. My little guys started to be adopted by a legion of people. I received requests for the plushes from publishers to have them for their tables at conventions. Mischief Corner Books is hosting them at Rainbow Con. Riptide Publishing is hosting them at GRL.
It didn’t stop there – Skip and Pip are even travelling abroad. I’ve never had the means to travel out of the United States although I’ve dearly wanted to. The extent of my excursions outside of the US borders are two day trips to Canada. But the Pride Bunnies are heading with the awesome Toni Griffin in Australia to hang with her at Queermance in Melborne. The lovely JP Kenwood is taking them with her to the UK Meet for GLBTQ Fiction in September.
My little bunnies and their message of “love is love” are going international.
I’ll be able to take them myself and hang out with the ever-wonderful Mischief Corner Books at BentCon happening in Los Angeles in November. BentCon is “the premiere convention that celebrates and recognizes LGBTQ (and Allies) contributions to pop-culture and geekdom”. They ought to be right at home there!
A couple of years ago I envisioned an original creation of my own that would have heartwarming characters and a storyline that would hopefully speak to people. I have two universes in my head for two graphic novels with a gay romance storyline even now. I’ll get to them someday, but right now I’m happy to have two little bunnies and their crazy antics take over my free time.
I think we can all support anything that promotes the rainbow flag to the world.
I’m also learning from them that you just have to go with the flow sometimes. It leads you to wonderful people and amazing places.
~ Catherine Dair
About Catherine Dair
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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