THE PINGS is a children's book about two 10-year-olds named Wing and Zoey, who live in a housing project of the same name. Together they find a magical toy which opens up a portal to a place called Chinytown and from there, the two embark on an unexpected quest in finding their way back home.
The book was named after a real-life housing project in San Francisco’s Chinatown called PING YUEN, which in Chinese means "Tranquil Garden". The project was built with the hope of helping low-income Asian American families in finding a place they could call home since 1955. Because of the sheer size of the complex (with over 400 families living under one roof), it was a place where tenants and members of the community bonded, shared stories and came to call each other family.
Chinytown is a play on the name of San Francisco's Chinatown from the eyes of a child. Growing up in Chinatown in San Francisco was a unique experience. The sights the sounds and smells are so different than anywhere else in the city we ventured. The proximity to Little Italy and downtown made the experience so much more fascinating because of the sheer diversity of people we would encounter on any day. So in the storybook for the Pings, I really wanted to get the reader or viewer to feel the nooks, crannies, the size of the city and colors of Chinytown from Wing and Zoey's perspective.
The inspiration for Wing came a lot from my past and also my friends. It’s kind of a combination of everyone put together. Wing is kind of this weird yet cute and lovable kid who has a thirst for adventure.
Zoey, on the other hand, is based off Patty my stepsister. She had this goth phase in high school but she was always loving and kind and I thought it was a great character to include. Zoey in the book is a strong, tough and wise girl who embarks on this journey with her adoptive brother Wing.
The idea of the book and its main characters first came to mind as early as 2009 with a group of friends from animation school and actually started off as an animation series. However, in 2015, I wanted to put together something tangible for all of my friends who started having babies at around the same time, which is where the children's book idea came from. I also wanted to leave a story of how we were raised behind because times change so fast and Chinatown now is actually becoming more gentrified and a lot of history is being lost. So this book is somewhat like a snapshot of how we were raised and who we were.
Another vital reason I created THE PINGS is because of the diversity gap that is currently prevalent in children's literature. Knowing that Asian American representation only makes up a small fraction of children's books, I believe that providing diverse stories for children that show various aspects of the Asian American experience would allow them to obtain a sense of representation and empowerment. Ultimately, I just wanted to make a book that makes children and their families go, “hey, that’s me!”
Two years ago, I came across the super talented artist Leslie J. Lee and asked her to help me put this book together. The illustration style of the book is like a fusion of anime and other cartoons like the Final Fantasy game, Charlie Brown and Calvin and Hobbes.
- THE PINGS Physical Hardcover Book
- A Digital Thank You Card
- THE PINGS 4 x 6 Postcard and/or 24"x 36" Poster of THE PINGS
- THE PINGS Sticker Set and Bookplate Sticker
- THE PINGS T-Shirt
- Wing and Zoey Custom Fleece Blanket
- Personalized illustration in the style of THE PINGS!
- Your image or someone else's image printed into THE PINGS book!
My name is Gabe Chui and I was born in San Francisco Chinatown and raised by two very hard working immigrant parents very much like that of Wing and Zoey's. After learning 3D animation at Gnomon School of VFX in Los Angeles and cutting my teeth in a production studio in Culver City, I started developing THE PINGS with some friends from school.
We are incredibly thankful for the support and encouragement that each of you have shown us over the years and we're very excited to be sharing this book with you!
Risks and challenges
I am no stranger when it comes to Kickstarter projects since I have had experience working on successfully funded and delivered work which include:
Sam Koji's "Monster of the Sky"
Erin Li's "Kepler X47"
The sketches and storyboards are all complete and the book is now in it's coloring and proof-reading stage. Once we have all our illustrations finalized, we’re ready to have the books printed and delivered. The book will be hardcover saddle stitched 8x8 inches and we intend to give our cover and interior pages a matte finish. Funding would mainly go towards the shipping fees, illustration costs and the printing the book.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)