My name is Brandon Pierce, and I began drawing Pet Projects in 2010. I was originally posting these comics on Flickr before I discovered Feed Tacoma, thanks to The Cartoonist’s League of Absurd Washingtonians, of which I am a proud member. Pet Projects evolved from a much earlier comic I began during college called Teacher’s Lounge, about a group of ineffectual teachers. One of them had a talking cat and a talking dog, named Kaeley and Spike respectively. Their owner was a prototypical Notle the Witch, except she was a regular human.
Notle the Witch, herself, was part of another idea I had, a completely separate story that I was writing but never finished. After college, I wanted to go back to doing a webcomic, but I didn’t really want to continue Teacher’s Lounge. I found the cat and dog characters somewhat interesting, and I wanted to continue my Notle character. The idea of a comic centering on a witch and her pets interested me, so I melded the ideas together.
Notle looked quite different in the old Flickr comics. She had always been green and had always worn glasses, but her old glasses were more Dilbert-like, her hair was shorter, in an almost beehive hairstyle, and her head-shape was a little different as well. She didn’t really have a jawline- her mouth was almost always visible, and she was usually dressed more formally. She also usually wore shoes.
When I moved to the Feed Tacoma website, I gradually changed her look, making her glasses reflective (occasionally drawing her eyes to add more expression), giving her a jawline, making her hair longer, and drawing her in a dress and leggings. I stopped drawing her mouth regularly (again, like Dilbert). I eventually stopped putting shoes on her, after deciding she looked cuter in bare feet.
The funny thing is, Kaeley and Spike have always looked about the same. I don’t remember exactly why I decided Kaeley should have that odd hairdo, other than I guess it made her look more feminine; nonetheless, Kaeley sometimes is still mistaken for a male character by newcomers. As a side note, Kaeley is named after a friend from when I did volunteer work at the YMCA years ago. I’ve been asked why her eyes are usually squinted shut. That was mostly inspired by the character Gaz from Jhonen Vasquez’s cartoon Invader ZIM. Also, has anyone noticed that a lot of cats squint their eyes when they’re very angry?
After about 3 years of working on the webcomic, one of my personal goals is to make an animated short film with these characters. I already have a story idea in mind, and I’m even doing a storyboard, but it’s going to take a lot of planning and additional help.