I’m okay, everyone. I touched down in New York City safely in spite of snow delays in Minneapolis. Anyway, for today, I wasted no time with touring my old neighborhood. This will be a long post so you may want to go get a sandwich as well as something to drink…I’ll wait. When you’re ready, proceed onward.
This is a photo of Grove Street, a simple residential street in Ridgewood of Queens, New York. Out of respect for the current occupants, I’m not including a photo of my former home. I couldn’t believe how much of my former neighborhood has changed. When I was growing up here, there were a lot of Italians living in Ridgewood. Many of them have been displaced by Eastern Europeans like Poles, Serbians, Romanians, Albanians and so on.
Grove Street was instrumental in the development of Sunnyville. The 1980s anime that influenced Sunnyville, Maple Town, was viewed by me on Grove Street – it initially ran in syndication and then on the cable network Nickelodeon. Anyway, I continued to explore my former neighborhood.
This is a shot of Fresh Pond Road not too far from Grove Street. See that supermarket on the left? Back in the 1980s, that was a full service Chinese restaurant; I remember getting Chinese takeout from there (quite common in New York City).
While I was exploring much of my old neighborhood and looking back on my youth, I started to wonder. Rusty grew up in a big city before he moved to Sunnyville. What did he do in the big city?
I walked over to the Ridgewood Public Library (I talked about this place on last year’s tour). I hung around there and started thinking more about Rutsy’s past.
When the universe and characters of Sunnyville were being developed, I tried to think up character backstories and how it tied into their personalities. Rusty Duncan was born and raised in a big city. I’ve already been hinting at Rusty’s past in some of the recent stories. Back in Sunnyville Stories #13, I hinted at a girl named Sarah Ann whom Rusty knew when he lived in the city. I had Rusty expand on her further by telling Sam (and us) more about her in the recent Sunnyville #14 pages I drew.
During my walk through Ridgewood and then into Glendale, I realized that I could tell stories about some of Rusty’s life before Sunnyville. Where would these side stories be put? I am planning an annual edition of Sunnyville; if this goes well, I may do more of these and Sunnyville “super special” issues with some of the prequel stories.
That’s something I should emphasize to anyone out there who develops characters for creative works – don’t think of them as simply fictitious characters. Think of them as having a backstory and a life outside of what we see. As far as I’m concerned, Rusty Duncan isn’t some ink on paper. Before his adventures in Sunnyville, he’s lived a life in a big city. He’s gone to school, gone on trips with his parents and had daily happenings with his school friends like Sarah Ann. I’m sure some of you would like to hear of what Rusty did before coming to Sunnyville. At least a few people have been asking me if we’ll ever see Sarah Ann.
I just may end up doing that.
That’s all for today. Tomorrow, I head into Manhattan!