Much of this is based off of my own childhood. While my family's financial situation was not nearly as nice as these children's, I was lucky to live in a community that (aside from the lake) had all the benefits the Precocious children have. My formative years, living in the DC area, were spent in an area so ideal it seems fictional. It was a multi-cultural, tight-knit neighborhood with an abundance of children my age. Within a mile were several playgrounds, a baseball field, a soccer field, a pool, tennis courts and lots of nature to explore. Yeah, it's kind of ridiculous.
For my third grade year, I attended Springfield Estates, which was the inspiration for the Poppinstock Academy, down to the elite-sounding name. There really wasn't that dramatic of a difference between it and regular elementary school. I suppose it just presented us with more learning opportunities. The flashiest part I remember is that we had a Japanese assistant teacher come in and teach us some basics of her language.
Halfway through the third grade, my father got a better job in Winchester, Virginia and we moved away. Instead of having a whole school devoted to the gifted, Winchester offered a class that lasted about an hour a week. Not quite the same, was it?
Clearly, I never recovered. In sixth grade (when I again was placed in an all-gifted program) I made my first failed attempt at cartooning and created a comic based on an idealized version of my old school. This strip would eventually become Precocious. The framework was nearly identical to what you see here, including the class-conscious theme with the same gemstone-themed neighborhoods. I've even stuck with the same four main characters — at least the group that existed after another failed attempt at the comic in seventh grade — with all retaining their original names except for Bud, whose original name I've long forgotten.
After almost twenty years of gestation, Precocious launched January 1st, 2009! How crazy is that?
Precocious is a comic strip revolving around four children who might just be a tad too smart for their own good.
They children attend the Poppinstock Academy for Gifted Children, founded to provide a special curriculum of education for children of elementary school age who have tested at a high enough level to merit such attention. The school's official mascot is the Poppinstock Visionary. There's no getting around the elitist nature of the school, but the kids can at least take pride that their advantages are a form of meritocracy rather than plutocracy. (Not that a meritocracy doesn't have its own issues...)
Continuing the class-conscious/elitism theme, the community the children live in, Gemstone Estates, is divided into three neighborhoods:
Diamond Bluffs – The richest of the three neighborhoods, it is located on dramatic rolling hills that look down upon the other two neighborhoods. This neighborhood hosts the community's tennis courts, pool, one playground and a small field on their side of the lake.
Sapphire Lake – Named after the lake at the foot of the hills marking the Diamond Bluffs territory. Technically, Sapphire Lake's property only extends halfway through the titular lake, which is a sore point for its denizens. Aside from the lake itself, the Sapphire area extends to include the community's soccer field and baseball diamond. This is the neighborhood the main cast calls home.
Emerald Woods – Emerald Woods does not have impressive hills or a lake to call its own, but it does have lots of trees. Residents here make on average the least of the three neighborhoods. Hey, at least they're not the saps stuck living on Copper Road! The only community offering hosted here is a second, smaller playground.
Due to the community's close proximity to the Poppinstock Academy and an environment that is very child-friendly, several families with gifted children call this place home. With the arrival of the Pingo family, 7 of the 13 Poppinstock students in the combined 4th and 5th grade class call the Gemstone community home.
If this comic looks and reads like what would happen if Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Ozy and Millie, Bloom County and Fox Trot were thrown into a blender and distilled… That's because it IS. I'm a huge fan of all those strips, and following them most definitely helped shape me into who I am today.
While I'm sure to be labeled as a copycat, I'd like to think that Precocious is the natural product of one who shares the same mind frame as his cartooning heroes. As all of these strips are completed or in a state of semi-retirement, there needs to be someone out there to continue the voice. I don't make any claims of greatness yet, however. Precocious is still developing, and I have long way to go before I can even think of sitting at the big kids table. Still, you can't fault me for having ambition!