In the late 90s, as I spent entire summers browsing the Sailor Moon-related internet and coding Sailor Moon-related websites in the computer lab at my mother’s workplace, I had no way of knowing that the use of transparent gifs in web design was a fairly new development. (I also had no way of knowing that some of those transparent gifs would persist to this day.) But I did know that KatC’s Sailormoon Goodies, which changed domains a few times in its history but lived at http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Temple/1003/index.html during the time when I had its URL memorized, was the place to go when it came to tutorials for the casual webmaster.
It was from KatC’s tutorial “How to make cute Sailormoon backgrounds” that I first learned how to harness the power of transparency. The secret to designing an image with a transparent background, according to KatC, was to temporarily set the background to “something that will stand out well, like fluorescent green” while you worked. Stunned, I remembered a clip I’d seen on TV of the making of the 1996 film Space Jam: Michael Jordan on a fluorescent green court, playing with fluorescent green-besuited actors. The internet, until then an escape from reality, felt a notch more tactile. It was not an unwelcome change.