Image 1: Collaborative effort for Geranium Lake Properties by Yost and his assistant, Ha Kim Ngoc
Image 2: Ngoc’s initial contribution
The people who admire GLP are a discerning but small group, and at various points in the last three years I have created fictional fans to swell the numbers of our tiny band of brothers and sisters. Plus I needed help writing the backstory of Geranium Lake Properties, and creating characters is an excellent first step to writing fiction. (The danger is that if you have too much fun writing characters you may lose motivation to plod onward with the relatively boring task of actually writing the story.) GLP’s foremost fictional fan is Ha Kim Ngoc, one of those amazing Americans hybrids, a daughter and granddaughter of Vietnamese, Korean, Polish and Welsh immigrants.
Before she became Yost’s assistant in 1991, Ha Kim Ngoc was writing and drawing “Somnifery”, a comic strip influenced by Carlos Castaneda, Goya’s Black Paintings, Lorca’s theory of duende, and Little Nemo in Slumberland. “Somnifery” appeared irregularly in different zines during the 80’s, notably Spongesucker, Ralph and Fascia. At the same time, Ngoc collaborated with Yost on a handful of GLP comics.
The ideogram in the lower right-hand corner of today’s panel is a tribute to Harriet Lariat, a pseudonym used by Ngoc’s Polish grandmother and her grandmother’s sister-in-law, the writer/artist team who created Sue Generous and Bossy Oyster, a 64-page Golden Age comic book. The comic followed the crime-fighting adventures of a glamorous American housewife and her plucky Jack Russell terrier (loosely based on the characters of Nora Charles and her dog Astor from the Thin Man movies). Each issue featured several different stories, all the captions were written in Polish, while the speech balloons were in English. The authors hoped to educate Polish immigrants who were eager to immerse themselves in American culture. The title was printed by Eastern Color Printing and enjoyed a modest success within its target audience, published from 1937 to 1941, with a total of 31 issues.