Culture

Emily the Strange: From Quirky T-Shirt Character to Pop Culture Icon

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Twenty years ago, Emily the Strange first appeared on t-shirts and other odds and ends. Now, the 13-year-old girl with the long black hair, black dress and penchant for cats is the star of novels, comic books, iPhone apps and so much more.

Most recently, she's been fronting a band, Emily and the Strangers. Their adventures are documented in the comic book series of the same name, published by Dark Horse Comics. But it's more than that. Emily and the Strangers are the band credited with a new single, "Calling All Guitars," and a video. They're an animated band in the vein of Dethklok and Gorillaz, but with a spunky sound and lyrics that promote the idea of living your life the way you see fit. The music and accompanying video were funded by a Kickstarter campaign held this past April. On Saturday evening, the video premiered at Tiger, Tiger in San Diego at a special party held for Kickstarter backers. Since I pledged to the campaign, I was able to attend.

I pledged to the campaign because I've been a fan of Emily since my own teenage years. Sometime around 1994, I stumbled across a few stickers and felt some sort of kinship with the pale, sullen character whose image was accompanied by quotes that encapsulated the isolated, but not necessarily lonely, existence of misfit high school kids. The slogans were poignant, but still funny. Emily was a weird kid and she liked being a weird kid. That was absolutely relatable.