What’s in a few names

Origins of some names in the strip, some well known and some not:

1. Phoebe is named for Phoebe Caulfield, the protagonist’s younger sister in J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye.”

2. Phoebe’s last name, Howell, is in honor of Jimmy Howell, the kid across the street who was my best friend in preschool.

3. Phoebe’s middle name, Grizelda, is a reference to the song “Your Auntie Grizelda” by the Monkees.

4. “Marigold Heavenly Nostrils” is a name I got by typing my own name into an online unicorn name generator.

5. Phoebe’s friend Max is named after my great uncle, Max Metheny, a poet who lives in Thailand. As the only two artists in a generally pretty button-down family, he and I have been corresponding since I was about 12.

6. Phoebe lives in a fictional town called Tipton, Washington, and attends Tipton Elementary School. The name is a reference to jazz pianist Billy Tipton, a brilliant musician who, on his death in 1989, was found to have been a transgender man. (“Really a woman” was the phrase news reports at the time used; we have, thankfully, become more enlightened as a society, since then.)

7. Phoebe’s cat, who is in the strip occasionally, is named Gladys. She is named after, and visually modeled after, my own cat named Gladys, who passed away, aged 13, from cancer, just before the strip’s newspaper debut. Having her in the strip is my way of giving her a bit of immortality.

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