Video game stars: Super Mario, Kirby and Ristar!
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about why bunnies are the protagonists of Starbunny, Inc., so I figured I should also write a post about their co-stars!
The most immediate inspiration is video games, which should come as no surprise to any one who has read Astronaut Academy. The iconography, level designs, textures, and general vibe produced by 8-bit and 16-bit video games are permanently imprinted in my heart, and filter into pretty much all the comics and creative work I’ve produced. Whether as characters, power-ups or just recurring background details, the image of a star, especially one with a face on it, has always been really compelling to me.
Visually, the stars in my comic look the most like the ones that appear in Super Mario Bros., which I started playing in 1986 when I was nine years old. But the stars in Starbunny, Inc. (who don’t offer invincibility so much as constructive criticism) have an inspiration that goes even further back into my childhood.
I first discovered the Care Bears in kindergarten (which for me would’ve been about 1982). They were a big phenomenon at the time, and with all the merchandise produced, the stuff that most resonated with me were the notebooks, folders, and metal lunchboxes that my classmates were bringing to school. Much like the Nestle Quik tin canisters, I would stare at the images on these various Care Bears products for hours! My favorite scenes were hand-painted, with visible brush strokes featuring those colorful little bears just kicking back in the clouds, sliding on rainbows and making friends with anthropomorphized stars. Eventually I’d learn from commercials that their cloud home was called Care-A-Lot, and how the bears monitored the feelings of children with a Caring Meter, but at the time, my imagination was content to work out its own logistics, accepting these heart-warming visuals on face value. My main takeaway was that bears who lived in the sky, and smiling stars who hung out during the daytime, made me happy.
I’m glad to say that as I revisit these early images from childhood, they still make me happy. Yes, I know they can be overly saccharine, and I should see through the marketing calculations that created such images. But commercialism aside, I still think there’s something cool about something that is so unapologetically cute! I can’t speak for the later incarnations of the Care Bears or Super Mario Bros., or any similar franchise, but something about their original iconography still gets to me. It gives me a shot of optimistic feeling, and I can only I hope that a similar bit of magic comes through when people read Starbunny, Inc.
If clouds can look like pillows, why not stars?