They live quite a full and independent life in social networks, have own views and beliefs as well as style which differs them from their “colleagues”. They have no limits, they leave networks and travel across the Internet and, sometimes, a real world. They are characters of social networks, which turned from regular memes into real personalities, which get thousands of likes and have communities of fans.
Goose – a king of network characters
Almost every Facebook user knows this character. He is not embarrassed about his own habits. He doesn’t need to be introduced as well. Goose (Gus’) is almost the main network character. Due to his popularity and humbleness, he has already moved to a real world and even found a job.
For the first time, Goose appeared in social networks in October 2016, it means, he is soon celebrating his second Birthday. However, during this short time, the character has managed to become a hero of two books written by his author Nadia Kushnyr. He also appeared on a bank credit card, registered his own trademark, supported a UAnimals initiative and got a job in a metro. Moreover, at the end of September, Goose decided to become a Ukrainian showbiz star, introducing himself as a first online showman in Ukraine.
Goose is a Ukrainian speaking character, however, he prefers to speak surzhyk (mix of Ukrainian and Russian). Though people in comments are often disappointed with a purity of the Ukrainian language, this mix of two languages only makes the character closer to people. Besides, he is very ironic and funny, he isn’t afraid of looking strange and can use swear words if needed. He follows modern trends and likes philosophizing.
Borshchyk – he is cooked in his thoughts and wants to be in the limelight
Borshchyk (borshch is a traditional Ukrainian beetroot and cabbage soup) was made up by Yulia Vrotna the last year. According to Borshchyk, at first, Yulia wanted to make him a Ukrainian speaking character with English dubbing. It could have helped to tell foreigners about Ukraine and its traditions in a funny way. But author’s friend Natalia Rantiuk advised refusing from the translation to save the spirit of remarks and fixed phrases. It allows concentrating on the idea of a high-quality Ukrainian online comics.
Nevertheless, for those who considered this story too banal, there is a legend about how Borshchyk appeared. “Borshchyk was sent to Ukrainians as an eternal source of power, energy and inspiration, a cross-functional medicine, an object of gastronomical pleasure, the basis of philosophical wisdom, the whole culture and ancient traditions of consuming.”
The basis of the character’s communication is a regular and black humour. Borshchyk doesn’t filter his own jokes but he is always very attentive to grammar. Unlike Goose, though authors make their character say swear words, they don’t let him use surzhyk.
The Fig Cat – the only Ukrainian cat who reads Joyce’s “Ulysses”
An imagined, furry Fig Cat (Kit Inzhyr) is also popular on the Internet. He is an expert in the literature and was made up by Olena Pavlova, an artist and journalist. According to the author, the cat appeared after she had graduated from the university when she and her husband were moving to a new apartment. She couldn’t have a pet because she worked and travelled much so a drawn cat became a good alternative.
The Fig Cat is already followed by about 13 thousand people on Facebook, but it is not his limit. He loves books, he always motivates his followers to read more and boasts of his achievements. Besides, he loves Ukraine and congratulates on all the holidays. He is kind of a public activist among network characters.
“I have my own culinary and literary blog, I like visiting libraries. I am the only cat in Ukraine who has read Joyce’s “Ulysses”. For thick books – as well as cats – are the best. Since Euromaidan, I have sung the anthem of Ukraine every night. I believe that the Ukrainian language is like honey: sweet, flowery, good for health. My motto: in an independent country – don’t be dependent on your bed!” the Fig Cat tells about himself.
Sobatsia – a wolf who appreciates deeds the most
Sobatsia (is a diminutive for a Ukrainian sobaka – a dog) is the eldest network character. He appeared in the life of his author Dasha Vernova in a far 2002. Wolf Sobatsia is likely to be the only character who still remembers the LiveJournal network when it was the most popular. It was there where the character got his first good feedback and fans. Now, Sobatsia lives on Facebook and even has his own book.
«Kind, intelligent, he doesn’t want to live according to the primitive wolf packs laws in forests. A technical breakthrough is almost everywhere. There is no need to kill anymore, however, there is a possibility to be free from animal instincts. The main thing for my wolf is deeds, it doesn’t matter how you call them,” the author tells in an interview.
Sobatsia is also known overseas: a publishing house brought out Dasha’s book in Ukrainian and English languages. Nevertheless, the success seems not to influence the character: he is still a bit humble and kind, likes jokes and can give a piece of advice.
“I am Bald Cat (Lysy Kot). I like to gorge and drive people’s nuts,” Bald Cat describes himself shortly but quite meaningfully. But, despite such humbleness, this character has a peculiarity: he is an online and offline cat at once. The real cat lives with Natalia Haida, an artist-illustrator from Lviv.
Cat’s fans not only know about two “worlds” of their beloved character but sometimes, get real photos instead of drawn ones. It is hard to say which of his versions is more popular. Nevertheless, we see that Bald Cat is good at self-irony, but can’t tell what attitude the cat has towards people. The cat is said to have thought of a political career.
Lepetun: language is a nation’s DNA
Lepetun (lepetaty is to speak in Ukrainian) has told many Ukrainians about unexpected stresses in usual, and sometimes routine, words and peculiarities of the Ukrainian spelling. The tongue-Lepetun is a character who guards and saves the Ukrainian language online and offline. He takes care of Ukrainian speaking people and isn’t afraid of giving some useful tips.
In April, Lepetun turned 4 years old. During this time, he has managed to get his own website, five accounts in social networks and two mobile applications for improving your skills in the Ukrainian language. He has his own book and nine episodes of a cartoon “Lepetun”. He is not a typical network character, but he is exactly the character who could become friends with the Fig Cat and influence Goose.
Baba-Zhaba: eins, zwei, drei
Baba-Zhaba (baba is an old woman, zhaba is a frog in English), like Bald Cat, exists in a real word. If the cat is a story about an ironical and arrogant character, Baba-Zhaba is a touching and kind of a documental story about 88-year-old Eugenia.
Sofia Filipchuk, an author, said in a TV interview that at first, she didn’t think the project would become popular. It began quite simply: Eugenia was once invited to take part in an exhibition and asked to make some collages. She didn’t want to make a regular collage as considered it boring, so she used her granny’s photos and phrases, saving peculiarities of the way she was speaking.
It started from several collages, now, Baba-Zhaba has about 1 500 followers on Facebook, not speaking about her popularity beyond the Internet. Eugenia learnt about collages not at once, she was told when the project began getting popular. Her granddaughter brings her cards with collages and shows packages on a laptop. The packages about her, granny Eugenia, picking up the phone, always says, “Baba-Zhaba: eins, zwei, drei.”
Text by Dmytro Zhuravel