"We're people. And we're little...
But we're not your Little People."


I was fascinated from childhood with tiny folk. I wallowed in leprachauns and pixies and brownies and all the little critters that lived in our world without our knowing it and sometimes... the ultimate magic... befriended some big oafish human kid and drew them down into their miniature, magical world. I can't really say that TREETOPS was a coldly calculated attempt to re-create the sort of reading I delved up from the Golden Books and contraband comics, but I readily recognized some early avatars as I worked, and worked with them as hard as I could. Here is a partial list of some very influential oldies but teensies that I would recommend looking up, no matter how old or big you are.


This would have been sadly before my time if not for my grandfather, who had been a closet fan of William Donahey's Teenie Weenies cartoon strip that ran for over fifty years until the mid-sixties. He not only bought me several book collections of this wonderful strip, but had saved hundreds of aging sunday rotogravure cartoons in a big domed chest in the attic of the white, columned house we all called "Tara" with only a little irony. What got me (and G Daddy) about these little characters was not so much the way they were costumed from different walks of life like "The General" and "The Lady of Fashion" (who I desperately admired: she could pull off carrying a muff!) or their occasional adventures with animals much larger than they were, but their casual use of everyday human items in different ways. Needle swords, bottlecap pieplates, shoe houses... that was my main delight--among so many others--in the Teenies Weenies. They'd make SUCH better TV companions than ninja turtles and big eyed anime freaks, don't you think?



Another "sunday funnies" strip that I saw as a knock-off of the Teenies, Walt Scott's series of the fifties and sixties even had a comic book version for a few years. The picture here, the guys in a teakettle using an eggbeater as an outboard motor, confirms my fascination with tiny folk appropriation of our gizmos in innovative ways.


Actually, the TV meerkat clan was not that much of an influence on the TreeToppers, but I expect it to seen as such and they are, after all, closest to the society of little fuzzies. One impression I will confess is the characteristic squatting position of both tribes.


I recalled the Ewoks early on in my initial explorations of the TreeTops bunch. Naturally, I had been enchanted and "plumb tickled silly" by the Ewoks' manic celebrations in the film and consider them a role model not so much for the adults of The Oak, but the kits. Those swarming brats have "Ewokish" written all over them.


I am a rabid, card-carrying Miyazaki fan and love everything this contemporary mega-genius has ever done. The idea that he is such a tremendous writer, and such a childlike soul AND a world-class artist would drive me to envy except for my abject admiration.

"Totoro" is much less popular than the adventure films like "Swept Away" and "Castle in the Sky" and the under-appreciated "Porco Rossa", in between that style and the "real life" adolescent films that Westerners pay no attention to. Very seminal to TREETOPS, however. As soon as I stopped frisking around with these extraterrestrial furballs in the woods and considered human contact, Totoro's little buddy came to mind immeadiately: I saw the adorable, gutsy little toddler clamboring painstakingly up a flight of stairs and silently commiserating with her bizarre, silent spirit pal and created Lissy to be the confidant of the spacefuzzies. The idea that she shared much with them, such as homelessness, solitude and religious persecution came afterward but don't eclipse, for me, the simple humanity of Miyazaki's little charmer.