This is quite a bit different from my usual fare, but I put way too much time into it to not upload it here. It was a 25th birthday gift for my younger sister Emily. (NOT *EWilloughby
; there are two important people in my life with this name.)
These are the 14 most important characters in a fictional universe that she and I created when we were kids in the early 1990s, all of which were based on her and my toys. The universe contained far more characters than just these, but these were the 14 that appeared in our stories about this universe the most often. Some of the earliest comics I ever drew were about these characters, while other times she and I would each take control of a few of them, and invent the story as we went along. They also featured in greeting cards, handmade books, and all sorts of arts and crafts made by both of us.
The following are the characters in this image, arranged clockwise from the center.Kuey
, a.k.a. Kuse E. Snake or HML, was the most important character in this fictional universe, and the very first to be created. She originated around 1990 as an anthropomorphism of Emily’s security blanket. Pretty much from the beginning, Kuey had five points instead of four because that made it easier to show her interacting with things in a human-like manner. The point on her head originally stood straight up, but sometime in the late 90s I decided to put a curl in it so that people wouldn’t think she looked like a klansman.
Kuey’s personality is very difficult to describe. She was incredibly creative, but also so zany and scatterbrained that most of her accomplishments were more thanks to luck than anything else. The story that I think best captures her personality is one in which she wanted to practice putting with a golf club, but couldn’t find a ball. After learning that one of the Apollo 14 astronauts hit a golf ball on the moon and returned to Earth without it, Kuey decided to build a rocket to take her to the moon so she could retrieve the ball there. The rocket never actually worked, but while trying to build it she discovered a discarded golf ball, so in the end she still viewed the endeavor as a success. Kuey’s favorite food was apples, which she preferred to eat from the inside out, leaving the skin almost totally intact.King Timmy
(bottom) was the legal ruler of the land these characters inhabited. He was one of several characters based on a set of small dinosaurs toys that belonged to Emily, none of which were more than a few inches tall. King Timmy had a very small crest, I think because when Emily was four or five years old she chewed off most of it. Despite being legally in charge, in most respects Timmy tended to defer to…Queen Creepy
(top), who was the real ruler in everything but name. Creepy was incredibly rich and more than a little bossy, although in the long run she still knew how to run a country effectively. Creepy’s crown was a plastic flower ornament that Emily plucked off a cheap ring that came out of a vending machine, and which curiously managed to fit perfectly on Creepy’s crest. That and most of her other jewelry was for more than just ornamentation: Creepy weighed so little that the additional weight of her jewelry was necessary to keep gusts of wind from knocking her over.Joey
the miniature tyrannosaur was the closest this universe had to a villain. He was sneaky, arrogant and selfish, although the other characters could usually get him to see the error in his ways eventually, at least until the next time a villain was called for in the story. Whenever one of his schemes failed, Joey’s most common phrase was “I didn’t do it! It’s not my fault!”Cardi
was a tiny toy that came out of a vending machine. He was so tiny that it’s hard to even tell what kind of animal he was. Cardi’s personality was a toddler who adored Sesame Street, and took pride in his lack of toilet training. Emily had two of these toys, Cardi number one and Cardi number two. The numbers represent the order that my sister got them, as well as the ways their lack of toilet training made a difference.Dimey
ran a restaurant called Dimey’s Diner. He was one of the more “normal” characters in this universe, and his importance was mostly because his restaurant was often a meeting place for the other characters.Beast
was a plastic puppet based on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
, which Emily got as part of a promotion from Pizza Hut when the movie was first released in theaters. His personality had very little in common with his movie counterpart. This Beast was very clueless but very well-meaning doctor, who tended to offer his services for free because nobody would ever be willing to pay for them. As a result he tended to not have much money, and often needed to borrow some from one of the other characters when he wanted to eat his favorite meal: a three-pound steak at Dimey’s Diner. Beast’s favorite slogan was “Free shots and blood tests! They don’t hurt a bit!”Friz
, a.k.a. Friz B. Snake, was a distant relative of Kuey. Friz had the most unusual origin of any of these characters: she was originally a shoulder pad that our grandmother cut out of one of her dresses. Our grandmother was originally going to throw the shoulder pad away, but Emily asked to let her keep it as a toy. Before long, it had its own personality and was related to Kuey. Friz was not very bright, but was very loyal to Kuey, and loved eating cherries.Penter
was a dragon that I made out of an early 1990s building toy called Zaks. Despite his intimidating appearance, Penter was a truly brilliant doctor, and sometimes served as Beast’s foil.Orcialla
was a stuffed Orca toy I that I was given for my birthday when I was around ten. Orcialla’s job was as a martial arts instructor. Although quite talented at martial arts, his true passion was machines and electronics. Unfortunately he knew almost nothing about them, so the best way he knew how to repair a broken television was by whacking it with a hammer. (Incidentally, this stuffed Orca toy is the same one I mentioned here
, and a much older image of the same thing can be found here
was a stuffed whale toy which was given to my sister slightly before I was given Orcialla. Despite the name, Humprey was actually a she, and was married to Orcialla. Humphrey tended to be much calmer than her husband, and had a slightly cynical, deadpan-humorous outlook on life. In her bag is a bottle of Bush, which is a medicine invented by Penter to help the whales’ eyes function outside of the water.Ecco
were a pair of stuffed toys belonging to me and my sister respectively. My Ecco toy was not actually based on the Ecco the Dolphin
series, but I called him that because I liked the name. These were another two relatively “normal” characters, and were the closest this universe had to surrogates for me and my sister.
Babybush is holding a doll of Rhino, the central character in a separate section of this universe that I rarely participated in. Rhino’s group of characters was mostly limited to Emily and our mother, although it also involved a few of the mainstays such as Kuey and Humphrey.George
was Kuey’s uncle, who wrote articles for the newspaper The Daily Oy
. (Not to be confused with its rival newspaper, The Daily Doily
.) George’s favorite hobby was to collect vintage washing machines. His collection of them was arranged in rows in a large field behind is house, which he and the other characters referred to as “Washington”. In some of the later stories involving George he was the owner of a DeLorean DMC-12. The DeLorean couldn’t actually travel through time, but because DeLoreans hadn’t been manufactured since the early 1980s, other characters who saw it sometimes thought they’d travelled back in time anyway.
When I gave this picture to my sister for her birthday, she was able to remember the names of all 14 of the characters in it, even though she and I hadn’t discussed some of them for well over 15 years.