Saturday, June 03, 2006

My Secret Life - Venturing Into a New Special Skill

This is a bit of a story, so fluff up that pillow under your ass and prepare to read.

I used to doodle as a child. My mother sent me some of my doodlings that I still have packed away in a box. I was discouraged from drawing when I was in third grade (a year younger than the rest of the kids in my class) and the other kids commented on how my drawings were "too realistic." I guess since I was drawing people and they were still working their way through the bunny doodling I wrapped up by age five they got that idea. So I packed up my pencils and crayons until two summers ago. Sure, I did watercolor in the between-time, but not a lot of drawing. I pulled out the pencils and got a sketch pad a couple summers ago after I looked at what made me stop drawing. I decided "To hell with anyone who talks smack about my drawings" and began to doodle again.

I wasn't a frequent doodler. It's still a little intimidating living with Andrew Moore, amazing comic doodler. I just doodled from time to time.

Around March I doodled out an idea for a children's book. I'd write it, Andrew would illustrate. It involved the two dogs. I have these crazy 2-D sketches of Felicity and Piper getting into trouble, just enough to give him an idea of what I want to communicate. Again, just doodles.

In early May he announced he was going to make my character in Sonny a comic book artist. (I think now she's evolved into a cartoonist, but it's the same vein.) I had the brilliant idea to make the program look like a comic book so I doodled it out. It was just supposed to give him or another graphic artist an idea so they could make a good one. Just a doodle.

Every year for about six years we've custom-made my datebook. The cover was photographs, watercolor paintings or full-color graphics by Andrew. He'd make the insides to my specifications, then we'd copy and bind one for me and one for him (if he wanted one). Last year we made the Kung Fu Dog datebook available for purchase in the event someone else wanted a bitchin' datebook. My idea for this year's datebook was to have him do a sketch of The Doodlebug for the cover and update the guts to go with the theme. He's been really busy writing a play, going to school, working on The Felties, bailing hay in the yard. So I thought I might doodle out a cover and doodle out the guts so he could do them "for real" when he was available. (Why the rush? My datebook runs out of pages this Saturday, and next week I have some changes in my routine to keep up with.)

Sunday night we went to John Kricfalusi's cartoon screening in Santa Monica. We've seen him in person before, gotten an autograph. He's a bit of a celebrity to us since we threw a Yak Shaving Party when we were kids. Dude's got mad skills. Dude also referenced a book called Cartoon Animation by Preston Blair on his blog. That's his solution to young cartoonists learning how to do it right. He's even giving free lessons based on the book on his blog.

'Wow," thinks me. 'I could learn how to draw better and it could help me with this character. Andrew will be so surprised and pleased that I was so dedicated. It'll also make any "doodling" I may do over the course of the play look like I could believably make money at it.' So I get the book on Memorial Day and begin to doodle.

So what do I want to doodle? I guess I can work on The Doodlebug. At the very least I can learn to communicate what I want Andrew to do a little bit better.

But the doodling turned into several versions of The Doodlebug. I followed each lesson and made notes of what I liked and didn't like about each drawing. I improved significantly with each lesson. In the end, I wound up with a cover for the new datebook. I even used colored pencils -- Andrew Moore's medium.

I'm not even done with the book yet. I've only spent about three or four hours this week on the whole cycle. OMG!

Tune in next time to see the final product (which will be available for purchase).

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