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Meet artist Kieran Castaño who draws Ripley’s Believe It or Not! comic strip

    Believe it or not, The “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” comic strip newspaper has been around since 1918. That is over 100 years of illustrated fun facts. In that time frame, many artists have contributed to the strip. Honestly, I did not know they were cranking out new material. A few months ago the strip added Orlando artist Kieran Castaño to the daily chore of educating us more cool educational tidbits.

    At the peak of its popularity, the syndicated feature was read daily by about 80 million readers, and during the first three weeks of May 1932 alone, Ripley received over two million pieces of fan mail. Dozens of paperback editions reprinting the newspaper panels have been published over the decades. Recent Ripley’s Believe It or Not! books containing new material have supplemented illustrations with photographs.

    Ripley’s Believe It or Not! has been presenting the incredible and the unusual in illustrated form since Robert Ripley’s first “Champs and Chumps” comic was published in the New York Globe on December 19, 1918. From there, Ripley set off to search the world for more strange stories—traveling to 201 countries in 35 years.

    Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz’s first publication of artwork was published by Ripley. It was a cartoon claiming his dog was “a hunting dog who eats pins, tacks, screws, nails and razor blades”. Schulz’s dog Spike later became the model for Peanuts’ Snoopy.

    So many good ones to choose from. I’ve kinda turned into that guy that just tells you a random fact about anything when you weren’t even asking for a fun fact, but hey, somebody’s gotta do it. How else are we gonna win at trivia night? I think my favorite will have to be animal facts, especially bat facts. I love bats, so I’ve been lucky enough to draw them about three or four times this year. Did you know that bats French-kiss? Or that the smallest and cutest thing you’ll ever see is the bumblebee bat? Well, now you do.

    Kieran is an illustrator, painter, musician and cook living in Sanford, FL. He attended Seminole State College where he studied graphic design and lunch. Kieran often draws very detailed, sweaty, dripping and stoned-looking characters. It approaches you from a comedic angle but also gives you a glimpse into his vulnerability. His work ranges from strange and funny single-tier cartoons to panels of stories. These usually take on a political gag ranging from current events in the government to real-life stories about his role in the LGBTQ community, to cats and pizza. His recent breadth of work takes on a more serious role. His Trans Works Collection is a series of stunning portraits of “genderless” and “raceless” individuals. He says this is his way of self-medicating. His artwork is typically signed with 2 keys originating from his early moniker “Ki-Ki” Kieran hopes his artwork will promote trans visibility and the not-so-crazy notion that “weird is good.”​​C. Kedrierski​

    Tony M.