It's no secret to those close to me that I like to sneak friends and associates into my cartoons, particularly "Cafe con Leche." The whole premise of the cartoon was based on the first year of marriage with my wife, so it was very personal to begin with. However, in order to make the cartoon more authentic, I've added a few familiar faces and places into the strip.
A few examples now:
Rita: I met this sassy Puerto Rican lady named Rita at a bar a few years back. She always struck me as angry but proud. When started coming up with ideas for Maria's best friend naturally the name "Rita" (la boriqua) stuck out.
Ray-Ray: I have a cousin who used to spend tons of time in and out of prison named Raynard. I thought of him when coming up with the name for Trey's pathetic womanizing best friend and cousin. Besides, I don't know black person who doesn't have a cousin Ray-Ray.
Mama G: That's an easy one. I just mad a blog entry about her a few entrys back. Also know as my own mama.
Mel the barber: Trey occasionally gets wise advise from a recurring character named Mel. In reality, Mel was named after my own barber Melvin in St. Petersburg. Barbers tend to be like psychologists with clippers in the black community. But sometimes they can jack up your hair, like Mel the barber tends to do (not the actual guy, though).
Richmond Heights: The fictional gated community where Trey and Maria live is actually the name of the my old neighborhood in Orlando, though I based the actual neighborhood on New York's UWS (upper west side).
Tanya: Occasionally I'll throw in the name "Tanya" into my strips as one of Ray-Ray's many ex-girlfriends that he can't quite remember. That name is actually based on a friend of mine back in San Diego who works at the daily paper there.
Bob: Bob Thompson, also known as "the token white guy." When I think of Bob only one name comes to mind: Matt Waite. Matt is a "star" reporter of a place I refer to as the "St. Pete Crimes," but he's a really strange guy (like Bob). I describe both of them as "geeky-cool."
I'm sure there are a few people that I forgot, but I'll get back to you.