Meet princess/micro influencer Pipette and sensitive Bichon Dudley in Charlotte Mei’s delightful 98-page painted comic
What do our beloved animals really get up to? Delve into the wonderful Charlotte Mei's longest comic to date.
- Jyni Ong
- 20 May 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Last year we weren’t sure how Charlotte Mei would outdo herself after that Lord of The Rings magazine with Chris Harnan. But somehow, she has! This time, the London-based illustrator has created a 98-page comic book featuring the friendship of a teenage princess and micro influencer Pipette, and her trusty sidekick (not to mention ridiculously cute) Bichon Frisé pal, Dudley. “The story is basically one of friendship and holding onto one another as we change and grow,” Charlotte tells us of this delightful new work.
While Pipette is rather precocious, Dudley artistic and sensitive – qualities evident in the two protagonist’s kindly faces – and the extensive comic follows the two friends’ relationship during a transitory time in their lives. Published by the independent comics publisher Shortbox, Pipette and Dudley’s Charming Dog Adventure is currently available to preorder alongside the work of Alissa Chan, Emma Hunsinger, Núria Martinez and Jillian Tamaki – a worthy set of delights that’s sure to brighten up anyone’s day.
As for the story, it contains fragments of ideas that have been floating round Charlotte’s imagination for a while. “Dudley is inspired by my housemate Jamie’s family dog, a Bichon called Dudley,” she tells us. Regularly sent images of Dudley’s characterful personality, she couldn’t help but come up with stories of what he gets up to. She did what any animal-lover tends to do in a five-second fantasy: imagine what the beloved animal in question gets up to when they’re not being adorable. And for Dudley, his character was most certainly a cool guy, yet with a sensitive side.
It’s something Charlotte wonders about her own dog, Monkey. She thinks about what she does when she’s at home on her own, and what she says to her dog friends when Charlotte’s looking the other way. Squeezing all the loveliness out of this kind of relationship, the comic is a heartwarming tale of the special relationships between humans and animals. Then, as Charlotte and frequent collaborator Chris Harnan sat behind their zine fair table one day, the pair started to draw handsome shoujo manga princes, “and the idea of a handsome prince competition was really funny to us,” she adds. This narrative, which would go on to inform Pipette, coupled with all that Dudley love and appreciation, eventually combined to form the magic that is Pipette and Dudley’s Charming Dog Adventure.
Right from the start, Charlotte knew she wanted the whole thing to be painted. “Colour and texture are really important to me,” she explains, “so I wanted to have the same energy in the book while adapting to this new format.” Her publisher, Zainab Akhtar of Shortbox, initially suggested a 40-page comic, but as the book grew and grew, it became clear that the extra 58 pages also had to be included. Impressively, it took Charlotte only four months to complete the wonderful artwork.
As a painter, illustrator and liker of comics, it’s always been a dream of Charlotte’s to accomplish something long-form in narrative. She grew up on cartoons, and distinctly remembers the first art she was interested in – Pokemon and Sonic the Hedgehog fan art. In a surprising twist of events, she also thought Prince Charles' name was pronounced “Prince Charming” as a youngster, and developed a stint of fascination for the royal family. It’s an eclectic mix of comical memories that, combined with the more sophisticated influence of Shoujo manga, has climaxed into the captivating illustrative storytelling that marks Charlotte’s infectious practice today. And to be honest, we can’t get enough of it.
GalleryCharlotte Mei: Pipette and Dudley’s Charming Dog Adventure
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.