What's this comic about?
Precocious follows an insular group of little (and destructive) geniuses who are too smart for their own good. They attend the combined 4th and 5th grade class at the Poppinstock Academy for Gifted Children. Sure, they are elitist jerks – but they're adorable in their crime!
Who the heck are you?
I'm Christopher J Paulsen, but you know that by now. (My name appears several times on every page!) I'm an artist who tries to balance pretentious fine art with cartooning. I like modernism, newspaper-style comics, sports, TV on DVD and myself. My birthday is March 24th. You are encouraged to give gifts!
Where are you from?
I hail from the Washington, DC area. My life has mostly been spent in Winchester, VA, which is not close enough to DC to make it fun. After a wonderful two-year stay in beautiful Savannah, Georgia, I'm back in Virginia.
How often do you update?
Precocious updates every day! The side comic, Copper Road, updates when I have comics for it - once a week when it's active - with the Copper Road archive being updated with the previous month's incentives at the beginning of each month.
Where did you get the idea for Precocious?
They say write what you know! I did attend a school for the gifted for a year, in a combined 3rd and 4th grade class. In 6th grade, I again was in a gifted-only class. The layout of the 6th grade classroom was nearly identical to the Precocious classroom. (For those interested, I sat in Kaitlyn's seat.) I spent my life in the honors bubble, with the warped outlook that came from it. When I first tried to create a comic, it was inevitable that Precocious would come out!
When did you start?
Precocious was conceived of waaaaay back in the 1991-92 school year, when I first tried drawing a comic strip as a 6th grader. As for cartooning in general, I threw out all my fine art training in 2007, resurrected the Precocious idea and began to learn how to draw big-eyed creatures. (I regret nothing!) That year, I cut my cartooning teeth by creating a Precocious prequel, which dealt with Autumn's family touring the neighborhood as prospective homeowners. While doing that, I formulated the Gender Wars arc and began work on it. Precocious in its final form launched January 1st, 2009.
What was the 1991 version of Precocious like?
For one, the characters were human. It was also called "Brats" then. (Ugh, that name.) The kid who would turn into Bud was a cartoony avatar of myself, who did things a goody-goody like me never would! (His name shifted a lot and I no longer remember what he ended up as.) His main friends were a sidekick name Jacob, a fiery redhead named Autumn and a space cadet named Tiffany. They attended a gifted school and lived in the Sapphire Lake community of Gemstone Estates. Aside from Bud, surprisingly little of that setup has changed over time.
Will we get to see the aforementioned Precocious prequel?
While those early strips are so terrible they should never see the light of day, the story was resurrected and rewritten as a bonus arc in the first Precocious book. Go buy a copy and see!
Is this a furry comic?
Technically, it's a "funny animal" comic – meaning they are basically humans in cuter forms, and should be treated as such. They have hands, not paws, and they identify themselves as people, not specific species. Still, I'm ok with labeling the comic as furry, if you wish to do so. I won't turn away that potential reader base. Plus, if you're the type that won't read something just because of that label, maybe you should take a long look at yourself and your motives. If the comic is good, it's ok that the characters have tails!
Why did you choose animal forms?
I thought it would be cuter! I felt animal forms were more pleasing to the eye, as I'd always gravitated towards philosophizing animal comics myself. Also, when I created Precocious, I wanted to build a unique world with my own rules, and I felt animal forms would create the separation from harsh reality I wanted.
Why only dogs and cats?
Precocious characters are limited to forms taken from the canidae and felidae families because adding more and more animal types suddenly makes the comic ABOUT the animal types. That's not interesting to me at all, and it raises some biology thoughts that break my brain. If I felt confident enough to draw variety in the family, Precocious would have been all-cat or all-dog, but I felt my simple style wouldn't allow the needed flexibility. So you get kitties and doggies. All their forms really mean is that cats and dogs are not meant to be romantically compatible, since I don't like "shipping" at all, especially regarding minors. (This explains why most major male/female pairs are mixed... not that it ever stops anyone, but I tried.)
What do you think about furry fandom?
I love it! It's flattering to get such wonderful attention. I want all types of people loving my work! I sell at furry conventions because it's so refreshing to have a fandom that wants art from an artist specifically for that artist's style.
What exactly *are* your characters?
They are all highly-cartoonified doggies or kitties. Bud is a cat with Scottish fold ears. Autumn is a red fox. Tiffany is a simplified calico cat. Jacob is a floppy-eared mutt. Suzette is a spaniel. Dionne is a cheetah-mix. Max is a wolf. Roddy is a tuxedo cat. Kaitlyn is a Siamese cat. Quincy is a German shepherd. Vincent is a crazy mix of doggies, including keeshond and side-striped jackal. Ursula is a husky. Phew, that's enough for now.
How old are the kids?
Of the Poppinstock class, Bud, Autumn, Dionne, Max, Roddy, Kaitlyn, Quincy, Xander and Ursula are 10. Jacob, Tiffany, Suzette, Vincent and Yvette are 9. For the kids' siblings, Casey Oven is 18, Michelangelo Et is 6, Frida Et is 4, the Et twins are 2 and Wen Hu is 8.
How old are the adults?
Joseph Oven is 42. Sydney Oven is 40. Soren and Ivy Pingo are both 35. Harvey Linkletter is 37. Deirdre Linkletter is 36. Gene Et is 33. Sky Et is 29. Bette Monster is 29.
Do the characters age?
Nope. This is a sliding continuity. (Like in The Simpsons, or Calvin and Hobbes.) Situations may change, but everyone always stays the same age. We still get birthday plots, but the kids go from 10 to 10! How? IT'S A PROUD COMIC TRADITION! DON'T QUESTION IT!
But that time-looping is confusing! Why do that?
I SAID NOT TO QUESTION IT! Anyway, I set out to draw a comic about kids at that perfect age where they had developed personalities, enough freedom and skill to do fun stuff, but were still innocent in regards to many adult things. It's meant to be pure and refreshing, and if I let them age it would destroy everything after a year. The class would split up, characters would change with age and it would soon be a comic I wouldn't want to write.
In what state does Precocious take place?
Chaos! Heh. I'm deliberately vague on this, but you might as well assume it's in the northern part of Virginia, as it's pretty much the only area I've ever known!
What's with all the goofy names?
It's one of my vices as a cartoonist – silly names! Here're some examples of my naming methods:
Bud Oven – When I resurrected Precocious, I felt I needed to overhaul the main character. At the time, I was working on a short story with a character named, you guessed it, Bud Oven. He was a spoiled brat who stayed in an apartment building owned by his mother. The joke was that they had to take the generic name of "Sunshine Apartments" because naming it the "Oven Apartments" was right out. A lot of short story Bud was adopted into Precocious Bud. So, no, his name has nothing to do with marijuana, dammit! I'm actually quite against drug use.
Bette Monster – Her first name is a reference to the class she teaches – the first and last names of the 13 students covers all 26 letters of the alphabet! (Jacob's last name of Linkletter is also a reference to this.) For the Monster part, I think it's funny that the "pretty" character has such a cruel name. It's also a nice adversarial name for one who foils these kids regularly.
Kaitlyn Hu – Why, yes, I did create a character for one puntacular strip! I'm not above naming a character for one cheap joke!
Why does the archive jump between black & white comics and color comic?
When Precocious was first launched, I wanted to test my limits to see what I could pull off on a daily basis. My intention was to run a newspaper-style black and white strip, but I wanted to give coloring a shot for fun. I didn't have fun coloring then, so I went back to black and white. Later, guest colorists took up the task here and there. Finally, I gave in to the pressure and resumed coloring the strips again myself. (I'm much better and faster at it now, thanks to practice.)
What are your influences?
I grew up fueled by newspaper-style comics. Precocious' biggest influence is definitely Charles Schulz's Peanuts, with heavy doses of Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, Fox Trot and Ozy and Millie (among many others) mixed in.
Can I suggest a storyline?
While I try to listen to fan feedback, I don't accept story or character ideas. I'm a control freak and I like Precocious to be from my twisted brain alone! If you try and suggest ideas, all you're doing is ensuring I won't ever use them. If you want to tell that story, you can fanfic. I do not read fancomics of fanfiction, because I don't want to risk any idea bleed, so don't send them to me. No fanfiction will get my endorsement. And, to be clear, fancomics are a different beast than solicited Precocious guest comics. In the case of guest comics, I still come to you before you come to me.
Will we see more of the supporting kids' families?
Anything's possible, but I don't like introducing character just to introduce them. There needs to be a good reason for a non-main family member to appear. I think I have enough characters as is!
Will we get to see what happened when _____?
Probably not. I think some things are funnier when you have to imagine what crazy stuff went down yourself!
What's Rule #4?
"No dynamite." Often referenced in the comments sections, Rule #4 comes from this strip.
What is that weird symbol that keeps appearing in the comics?
It's called a triskelion. The meaning can vary due to the culture using it, but the main theme for it is enduring renewal. I adopted it long ago, as the symbol is a synthesis of my initials. I sometimes use the symbol in place of my signature for smaller artwork, and I splash it into the comic for fun. Sometime's it's just decoration, but I also use it as the Chrispco symbol!
Pronounced Chrisp-Co (not Chris-py-Co). It began as a joke of mine, as the name of a huge, multinational corporation that should exist to do my evil bidding. In Precocious, Chrispco is that ever-present company, which produces a lot of products - the most visible being Chrisp-Cola.
How do I post images in the comments section?
First you need to find a place to host your images. There are several free hosts out there. Next, you use standard html to post your image, like below:
Why did you decide to do Copper Road?
I designed all 13 kids in the Precocious class, but I knew the strip would be way overloaded with characters if I crammed them all in. I had joked for a long time that Kaitlyn was like the central character of a second strip, so it was easy to take that idea and run with it. Turning it into my vote incentive was me killing two birds with one stone.
Did you know some comics contradict each other?
Sometimes it's intentional. Sometimes it's not. A lot has changed since I started Precocious, and as time goes by I may want to update some stuff to fit my current world vision better. If two strips contradict each other, the rule is accept the newer strip as canon. I reserve the right to update my universe when needed. (Such as changing a character's coloration so it's more accurate or more effective visually.) Sometimes, though, I just forget stuff I wrote years back. It happens. It should also be noted that I value a good joke first, and sticking to continuity second.
In the case of backgrounds and environments, I prefer to keep things flexible. The field behind Sapphire Lake bounces around. Doors pop up when needed, and can even shift to new walls between stories. Window change shape to fit in a panel. I'd rather shift Bud's kitchen around than draw an accurate panel that makes it hard to position the characters. Wall colors change as I hone my palette or other needs arise. Just assume the kids cause so much damage that the whole Precocious universe needs to constantly repair itself. New furniture is needed, old furniture is moved, remodeling happens and walls need repainting on a weekly basis!
Why don't the characters wear shoes?
It's a stylistic choice in drawing. I draw them with big feet (I worry they'd fall over without them!) and the idea of wrapping shoes around them felt awkward. Lack of shoes isn't a hard rule - it's just one of those, "It's a comic, go with it," things. For me, it's a visual quirk along the lines of them having oversized heads and tiny necks, yet they somehow can easily put on their shirts and no one has severe neck trauma. You'll be much happier if you look at the characters as humans with a cute veneer than as animals doing human things. Better yet, think of them as cartoon characters. If they're fun, accept it and let yourself enjoy things.
When will we see a book?
Books are here! The yearly production schedule means the book preorder will happen early in a year, with the official book launch coinciding with my visit to Anthrocon.
Did you know there's a typo in the book?
*grumble* It happens. Each print edition brings more corrections. Feel free to write to me if you see an error, because I've seen those comics and words so much that I can't recognize mistakes easily due to my brain filling in what I expect to see.
Why do you use American terms?/Why did you split that infinitive?
Precocious is an American comic, written by an American, that uses conversational language. That means American terms and slang, lots of "um" and "ah" and "so," and imperfect language usage. Sometimes I fail at typing and the words get messed up, in which case you should email me so I can fix it, but often the characters talk as people talk in casual situations. I'll fix *my* mistakes, but not my character's language mistakes - if that makes sense. And if the American nature of the comic offends you, please don't whine in the comments. It doesn't matter if you (or I) approve or not, I was raised with this language/dialect and that's how I write. I won't start using terms from your country to make you feel more at ease. That is ridiculous.
Why is Autumn eating chocolate if she doesn't like it?
You should take her initial statement on chocolate as more accurate than the one she shouts when fighting with Bud. Sweet is sweet, and dessert is yummy, but she prefers over types of sweet. Conversely, I'm not a big fan of mint chocolate ("Blasphemy!"), but I'll still devour it if that's what you have to offer. While I think better things can be done with chocolate, sweet is sweet and I'll enjoy it. Compaining about dessert is like a San Diego resident complaining that there are TWO clouds in the sky, so it's not clear and perfect as usual!
Why do you make comics I don't understand?
As this is, sadly, a frequently asked question, so here you go: I write this comic using my experiences and not yours. I have to amuse myself before anyone else. I get very little financial compensation for what I do, so I have to love what I'm doing to keep going. I rarely base a whole strip on a cultural reference anyway, but it happens. Sometimes you don't know it due to lack of life experience. Sometimes it's a cultural or language barrier thing when a non-American reads my American jokes. Those jokes aren't bad when this happens, they're just not for you. Treat it as a learning opportunity! If you can't find what you need via search, ask politely in the comments and people should respond nicely with the answer. (If they don't, that's not cool.)
Usually it takes less time to look up the reference than to compose a complaint, buuuuut... At a certain age, some kids really believe they are the center of the universe, and can act hilariously demanding because of it. (And some adults never seem to grow out of that entitled haze.) Don't be one of those kids, because no matter how much fun it is to mock that behavior, it's not fun to read it. Ignorance is forgivable, as it's merely the lack of knowledge and easily fixed. Arrogant ignorance will make a very nice and civil group of lovely commenters slap you around.
And, this is so weird that I have to bring this up, but I again have to note that if something doesn't apply to you directly, it's not wrong. If you find yourself confused that a character who is very different from you would react in a different manner than you to a certain plot element, maybe... uh... I don't know a polite way to end this sentence.
Why do I keep getting downvoted in the comments section for correcting people?
Ideally, we're all eloquent and smart and correct all the time, but that's not reality. People make mistakes. They slip through. It's OK. Some people are dysgraphic. Some don't speak English as their first language. It's annoying when common typos happen, but as long as we understand the statement we should let it slide. With the IntenseDebate comment system, once a comment is replied to it can no longer be edited, so all you're doing is shaming a person and ensuring there's no way to fix it. If you can't help yourself and compulsively must correct people even when told not to, I will have to step in, as that character flaw is a big indicator of a bad commenter. The community is better without you.
Side note on the Karma voting: The numbers don't really mean anything. Lots of times people +1 every comment. Other times someone gives EVERYONE a -1. You can try to take something from it, but even then only look at the daily number. Registered users automatically get a +1, which means the reputation is nothing more than "I've been here a long time." Big numbers by people's names are meaningless, so don't pay attention to them.
To spinoff on the correcting idea, if someone gets a character wrong, or confuses comic continuity, you can correct them - include a link to the appropriate comic in the archive, if applicable - but always be respectful. (Here's a hint: No correction that starts with a condescending "Um..." or "Actually..." is ever that respectful.) Everyone is at a different stage of familiarity with Precocious. Characters that seem impossibly different to a long-time reader can be confused by someone still learning who everyone in this large cast is, and no one is expected to remember a throwaway gag from comic #252 (or whatever) off the top of their head. (Usually the cartoonist has long forgotten it as well.) It's a big archive, with lots of tidbits to take in. Don't pick on people for missing stuff. Give them a reason to go back and re-read the archive instead!
Why did this FAQ suddenly get so snarky?
It's the unfortunate nature of how one or two rotten apples can ruin things for everyone. The vast majority of people are so amazing and I love the community that has been built, but one out-of-control dingdong means I have to put up rules and potentially make other people uncomfortable. The most frustrating aspect is that those who are valuable might get self-conscious about posting, when they are so needed, while the guy the rules apply to usually continues on obliviously. If you consciously think about your words when posting, you've likely already passed the test. You're a good commenter and we need your voice added to the mix! I doubt the people I'm trying to reach will ever read this FAQ entry. All those who see this should send those guys here if you see them acting up in the comments!
How can I be a better commenter?
Be respectful and try to add something to the discussion with every post you make. Respectful goes towards both your fellow commenters and the cartoonist. As noted above, don't nitpick each other. Don't always make things entirely about you. Don't force your interpretations on others, as varied speculation makes for entertaining reading. Don't get super serious - this isn't a place to debate politics or religion. Try to make people smile. Don't be intimidated and end up trying too hard! You can be snarky without being cruel. Complexity isn't needed in commenting. The cartoonist loves to see people's immediate reaction to the comics, as they're getting into the story. A single "Squee!" post could end up making his day! The comments are meant to enhance the strip they are attached to. Make the place fun and inviting enough to inspire more voices to join in!
Have a question about a topic not covered here? Drop me an email! I'll try to keep this page updated as questions/suggestions roll in. Also, for minor or purely Chrispy-related questions, don't be afraid to ask me anything over on my Tumblr account!