The Suburban Jungle (Starring Tiffany Tiger) was created in late 1998 / early 1999 after I was introduced to the world of “furry comics” by my old chum HantaMouse (who, in fact, gave me the idea for the first SJ strip I actually drew). I had put NeverNever up on the web shortly before, and thought it would be cool to do a furry strip — never suspecting that it would take off the way it has. I won’t even bother to deny that it was strongly influenced by the various other furry strips I was looking at as models … specifically Kevin and Kell, Sabrina Online, Freefall, and of course, The Class Menagerie.
I had no real plan at the beginning … HantaMouse suggested the idea of a mouse and a tiger on the beach (with the mouse clinging to the bottom of a beach ball). I made the tiger a woman in a bathing suit, and had a sudden flash to the end of Kathy Ireland’s campy flick Alien From L.A. So there she was, a tiger supermodel. The name “Tiffany Tiger” suggested itself as appropriate, as well as being a nod to one of my favorite artists (Louis Comfort Tiffany), and off I went.
I originally had a somewhat different vision for SJ than the “slice of life” strip it became. My earliest thoughts had a science fiction background that placed the strip on the surface of an Earthlike world orbiting Tau Ceti, and the furries there the creations of a somewhat sinister scientific experiment in “immortality” combined with an effort to rescue endangered wildlife. It was going to take place 17 years in the future, to allow TV and radio broadcasts from Earth to reach Tau Ceti, so the characters could comment on real life “news of the day.” I decided that this idea was too dark, and would likely take over the strip the way the “Great Bird Conspiracy” had taken over Kevin and Kell, which I wanted to avoid. However, the occasional echo of that background is still present, notably in Yin’s fretting about the number of pandas still alive in the world.
There has always been a strange relationship between SJ and NN. SJ is more emotionally-oriented, while NN is more of an intellectual exercise … and interestingly, SJ has more numerous fans, but the fans of NN tend to be more, well, fanatical. I don’t know what it means, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.
About the Gneech
John “The Gneech” Robey has spent most of his life either drawing cartoons or writing fantasy and science fiction stories. During his years spent gaining a B.A. in English from Virginia Commonwealth University, he created a strip named Whistling in the Dark that ran in the college newspaper and was quite popular as well as counting as his term paper for a course entitled “History of the American Comic Strip.” Gneech currently spends his days building websites for various Federal agencies in northern Virginia, and his nights continuing to pursue his cartooning and writing.