Friday, November 19, 2010

Guest Blogger, Michele Tilford, The "Purrson" Behind Kokoro Purrs!

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Michele Tilford the creator of the adorable comic "Kokoro Purrs". I met Michele late Spring or early Summer when I first started "tweeting" and she has never failed to make me smile with her adorable creations!  She is also responsible for my new love of the breed of cat known as the "Ragdoll".


I wanted to introduce people to  the adorable "Kokoro Purrs" who may not be familiar with it. Who better  to tell us about Michele and Kokoro than, you got it, Michele herself!  Enjoy!




Yes, There is a Person Behind the Cat.

This is a switch, usually Kokoro is the one being featured. I’ll have to keep myself from writing as my fluffy ragdoll. MOL, oops, this might  be more difficult than I thought. The idea of doing a comic started with a grand calculated plan. I wanted to be involved in a pet assisted therapy program, I needed a new career and I have a BFA. My solution, get a ragdoll cat. (At least in my world, getting a ragdoll would be the answer to all my problems.) Not having the patience to get a ragdoll through one of the pure breed adoption services (it was also an 8 hour drive up to Northern California), I found a wonderful breeder, Connie Walters of Sweet Heaven Rag Dolls. In addition to her wonderful cats, Connie trains dogs to be service animals. She was happy that I wanted one of her kitties to train as a therapy cat.

From the first glimpse of his vivid blue eyes and one chocolate ear, I was in love with , “my fuzzy heart”. Kokoro a name suggested by my daughter, means “heart” in Japanese. Kokoro was a singleton , a litter of one. This may be the reason he prefers the company of people to other animals. Koko views other animals more as a form of amusement, as opposed to prey or a threat. From the very beginning, we thought that he would have the right personality for this important job.  He’s always the first to run to the door when the front bell rings. He doesn’t seem to mind one bit when small kids scoop him up and give him hugs.

That’s how we got the Pet-Assisted Therapy (P-AT) part under way. With Kokoro I now volunteer at the San Diego Humane Society as part of their Pet-Assisted Therapy program. This leaves the career and the BFA. I’m hoping that going back to my art roots will lead to a new career. Yes, we all know how easy it is to make a living in the arts. As far as the plan, knowing that people love their pets and will spend money on said pets made me think that combining art and pets might lead to something that people will want. Who can resist a cute fluffy kitty with a silly sweet personality? This brings me to the comic.

Kokoro Purrs wasn't my first foray into the world of comics. The first one was a very limited edition, one frame comic, that ran most school days. It magically appeared each morning inside my then kindergartener's lunch bag. This one was also about cats, C. Cat Kitty and Poof. We still have most of the 180 pencil drawn comics. Funny, but it was because of that little exercise I thought I might have some of the enormous discipline required to do a comic. That and I tend to get obsessed with things. I never travel without a sketch book, and I look at everything as a possibility for a comic.     

I took some refresher art classes, additional classes in Photoshop and Illustrator and jumped in! The first image of Kokoro that I liked was actually created by my daughter, an avid comic (both Japanese and American) lover. Hmmmm, I wonder if the lunch bag daily had anything to do with that? She very generously "gave" me the rights to the Kokoro image to do as I liked with. She still serves as my task master and art director. (I had to do, what felt like twenty logo's before I got her approval!) What will I do when she's off to college next fall?     

There are really three comics, under the heading of "KokoroPurrs". The regular strip that I'm hoping as we get to visit more places, will document our experience at the various institutions Koko and I visit and the wonderful people we've met. Up till now it has mostly just been, what I call generic cat antics. I just enjoy illustrating a cat's life. So even though it's all under Kokoro, sometimes Oogie, our rescue tabby might be the inspiration or another cat. It's always those small things that seem to lift a person's day. I created The Dislike's/Likes comic so people could get to know the actual cat, Kokoro. The third comic, usually one frame, "Lofty Thoughts" is more personal. It's a place where I get to air my musings.

We are only just at the beginning of our journey. (The first comic was posted April 28, 2010). We post the comic weekly, a photo or written blog near weekly, and a monthly video. We haven't made a penny and that's just fine with us, for now. We're in this for the long haul. If this plan doesn't work, there's always our back up plan of world domination.   

Michele Tilford


Check out "Kokoro Purrs"

38 comments:

  1. We a kitty cutie. When I worked in the nursing home industry, pet therapy was very successful.

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  2. Many thanks for introducing us about Michele Tilford and her adorable comic "Kokoro Purrs". The comic looks and sounds so interesting and Michele is really artistic!

    When Michele mentioned that Kokoro was a singleton and it might be the reason he prefers the company of people to other animals. I share the same feeling with her because I feel that Eva is the same as Kokoro and she also 'views other animals more as a form of amusement, as opposed to prey or a threat'.

    I can see that the comic is a bit like the Japanese comic too as Michele said her daughter is an avid comic lover. I love Japanese comic as they are always cute!!!

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  3. I am so happy that Caren introduced you to us. I love the artwork and the feeling and emotions you have put into Kokoro. What a wonderful talent you have.

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  4. thanks for the great comments! I am hoping that Michele stops by and reads these and I would love for her to respond to the points that were mentioned.

    @Priscilla, that is a very interesting point about Eva being a "singleton" as well. I have never thought of that. I had never thought of it to begin with til Michele mentioned it.

    @Diane, yes petting cats has been known to lower blood pressure and they seem to offer immense comfort to the elderly.

    @Max I am so happy you enjoyed reading about Michele and Kokoro. I agree, she is very talented!

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  5. Michelle is very talented with her cartoons. And, who can't help but love Kokoro. What a beauty he is.

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  6. Oh how cute cat, i love those blue eyes :)

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  7. @Mario yes she is! Yes everyone loves that handsome Kokoro!

    @Onna, I love his eyes too!

    @Hilary, you are welcome!

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  8. I had not see Kokoro, what a delight! It's great that Michelle and Kokoro are able to do so many wonderful things together...as it should be!

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  9. I absolutely *adore* Michele's work! Kokoro's winning "purrsonality" and witty observations on life always come shining through, and their cartoons (yes, "their"; Michele couldn't do this without her Ragdoll muse, you know! ;)) never fail to make me chuckle. :)

    (Plus, he's a Ragdoll. Squee!!! R-A-G-D-O-L-L. Can't emphasize that part enough. LOVE. :D)

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  10. Kokoro is so handsome!
    Michelle is very talented, what a great post:)

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  11. What a beautiful cat - love the name too. Thanks for the intro. PAT animals are indeed very special. x

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  12. Thanks for this great post Caren and Michele!

    Re: Koko being a singleton and preferring the company of people over animals; I am an only child and prefer the company of animals to people ;D

    For anyone who's interested, you can check out my interview with Kokoro kitty here: http://www.catsparella.com/2010/09/you-oughta-know-kokoro-purrs-exclusive.html

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  13. How adorable and I loved this..so glad you gave us this lovely purrson to enjoy and read.

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  14. @Brian, yes I think it is beyond cool for a Mom and her kitty to be able to do things! Glad I could introduce you to Michele and Kokoro!

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  15. @GlamKitty soooooo true! As I mentioned it was when I first saw Kokoro that I fell in love with the Ragdoll breed! :)

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  16. @Jen glad you enjoyed it! I am hoping that Michele stops by to read all of your comments!

    @Carolyn, I agree I love the name and YES PAT animals are sooo special! Glad you enjoyed it!

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  17. @catsparella, well I am gonna shoot that theory to hell in one fell swoop lol. I am a middle child (middle of 3) and I greatly prefer the company of animals to people! :) So let's analyze that one! lol
    Yes your piece was fantastic that you did, that is why I chose NOT to do an interview....otherwise it would be directly copying YOU! :)

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  18. @Admiral Hestorb, so glad you enjoyed it!

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  19. Three time zones later, and after waiting for the midnight Harry Potter movie...
    First off a huge thank you to Caren for featuring me! A second thanks to Catsparella for her interview and additional fab comments!

    @(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea, I've always had an affinity for our elderly population. They have the best stories and I love to see the different takes on life from people who have just been around a long time. Even if Koko didn't take the P-AT program I would still do it. The "cute fluffy" factor seems to be huge with our visits.

    @Priscilla Ah I see I've started a "singleton" debate, lol. Ragdolls in general seem to be very laid back as a breed, and the fact that he's really been thrown into it from day one. I really love illustration, and the comic arts from all countries. However I do have a particular fondness for Japanese art. I'm a huge fan of Mutts by Patrick McDonnell

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  20. @Max the Quilt Cat, @Mariodacat @Onna @Hilary, so many wonderful comments. I'm so very lucky that I have two wonderful kitties in my home, who provide great inspiration (Though I've been having more trouble getting Oogie's character right.) I have a second version of her coming out this Monday. Also, @Mariodacat has a wonderful blog to read. So many talented kitties!
    @Brian we look forward to doing more, more , more!
    @GlamKitty So true, Raggies are a special kinda cat. I've always had domestic short hairs, so when I began reading about these laid back fluffs who act more like puppies, I fell in love.
    @jen @Carolyn @Admiral Hestorb~
    purrrs to all, and THANKS so much. It's been such a thrill to read all these comments. Yes, I'm purrring and not as Koko. LOL ♥

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  21. @Kokoro and Michele....it was MY PLEASURE! Long overdue!!!

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to everyone!! :)

    Check back later there are bound to be more comments!

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  22. AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!! SOOOO CUTE!!!!!!! i want to schqueeeeezeee! so pretty =)

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  23. What a great feature, Michelle and her kitty Kokoro, both the real and animated version are lovely!

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  24. Caren great post! Thanks for helping us learn a little more about both Michele and Kokoro Purrs.

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  25. Wonderful! What beautiful art work too! We did not know about "Kokoro Purrs" and now look forward to following the comic. We are all comics fans in general here :-).

    -Pip, Smidgen, Minnie
    pee ess: thanks for the purrfume tip! :)

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  26. Kokoro is gorgeous. Rag Dolls have always been a favourite of mine.
    I like your philosophy "When life gets you down...Buy a Kitty!"
    Kitties make everything better =^..^=

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  27. @jennifer, your comment was so cute! Loved it!

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  28. @Cat, yes they are! Love how you said the "real" and "animated" versions!

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  29. @Wyatt, thank you! I am very happy that you enjoyed it! Michele and Kokoro are the BEST! Michele is a complete sweetie too!

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  30. @Cara, so glad that you will be following the comic!

    Let me know if you try the perfume trick and if it works! It worked like a charm when we introduced our Sheltie to our cat :)

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  31. @alittlesprite, I am sooo crazy about Ragdolls thanks to having met Michele and Kokoro! If i ever move to where I can have more pets I may have to look into one but then again cats find US don't they? Yes kitties DO "make everything better!"

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  32. (Koko's Mum's account)
    @Jennifer Scavone, is soooooo squeezable. He also sleep by my head. Sometimes in the nite he'll lick my hair, this leads to some pretty funny "bad hair" days... ooooh I feel a comic coming on.

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  33. @Wyatt my SoCal nieghbor does a fun comic too! It must be something in the air.
    @Cara n Crew thanks *blushes*
    @Alittlesprite What's amazing, is that we only have two kitties and assorted fish. I really have to restrain myself when ever I go to the Humane Society campus.
    Caren I belong to the same mutual admiration society.

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  34. ohhhhhh a licking hair cartoon!! I love it!! Love ya MadameM!

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  35. It's so funny you mentioned the hair-licking thing, Michele! Boomer does that to me, too, lol. It always happens when I've got my face buried in belly fur... he wraps his front paws over my head--holding on REALLY tightly--then he starts sniffing my hair in earnest, which eventually turns into a full-blown grooming ritual (of me!). The cutest part is when I try to pull away--because by that time, I'm sort of suffocating in belly fluff--and he digs his claws in just the tiniest bit, to let me know that he isn't done, and I'm not going anywhere! ;D

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  36. @GlamKitty, I know it must be a rag thing. I clip Koko's nails, so he has a bad habit of doing the same thing with his teeth, that Boomer does with his paws. Not a hard bite, it's kind of nice in a very bad habit kind of way. He's a really good head scratcher, lol. Koko does tend to use his teeth more. I guess he knows his short nails combined with fluffy paws are kind of worthless. lol

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