It's not every day that one meets a cartoon character, let alone a bicycling cartoon character. And so imagine my delight upon learning that I live just minutes from one. Allow me to introduce: Bikeyface!
A sure cure for self-seriousness, Bikeyface is a weekly comic strip that offers a parallel universe where all the weird stuff we imagine but don't say out loud materialises in cartoon form. Rich in visual detail, manic undertones, and good old fashioned perversity, Bikeyface has charmed the bicycle blogging universe with unexpected gems like "Office Shower Politics", "Men in Skirts" and "Winter Beard."
The heroine of Bikeyface describes herself as a "common commuter" type - who wears "non-spandex" clothing, "inappropriate cycling footwear," a hounstooth patterned helmet, and a "bikey smile" as she pedals around greater Boston on her bike, Marlene Dietrich.
Occasionally she will don a cycling-themed accessory, such as this gear pendant (okay, so they're the wrong type of gears)...
...or a beard/muschachio balaclava, to compensate for her lack of facial hair on chilly winter commutes.
But who is Bikeyface really, the woman behind the cartoon and the knitted facial hair?
Well, all right: She is Bekka. She is a painter with a non-painterly dayjob, to which she commutes by bike. She lives in Somerville, MA. Before that she lived in LA and rode her bike there. And she is from New England originally.
The bike she currently rides is a tiny Surly Cross-Check in her favourite colour, which she got last summer and loves. It is called "Marlene Dietrich" because it is sultry and feminine, yet with a tomboyish edge. Of course. Other bikes she has owned have included an Electra Amsterdam and a couple of hybrids, but Marlene is the preferred ride - used for both commuting and long distance recreational cycling.
Of all the people I've met so far via the cycling blog connection, meeting Bekka has been my biggest "the worlds collide" type of experience. Besides living walking distance from one another, we discovered that we have some uncanny non-bikey things in common and spend more time talking about those than we do about cycling. It sometimes feels as if we are interacting as two different sets of people: the real us, with our bikey alter egos hovering in the background. We've talked a little about identity - how we both come across differently on our blogs than we do in person, and how people react to that difference when they meet us. Whereas Bikeyface is a perky, mischievous and boisterous character, in person Bekka is subtle and analytical, and rather difficult to characterise. Visually, she is striking: A soft and delicate face with enormous, unusually shaped blue eyes - the type of face that belongs in a 1930s French film and not so much in a 21st century bike cartoon. I would certainly like to paint her some time, as herself.
In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy Bikeyface and invite you to do the same. The strip normally comes out every Wednesday morning and is certain to brighten up your day.