Ok, for now let’s finish the ‘Early Works’ section of this little exposé with a look at “Poker Face”. This was an ‘inspired’ piece. I saw it in my mind before I started drawing it. I know it’s an early work for four reasons. First, I was there, and I remember it. Second, the format of the © assertion is definitely early days – it pre-dates the cartoon windows I created for later use, which had the copyright notice built in. Third – those arms! The guy on the right especially, the one who’s praying for a good hand – those are definitely the lines of a drawing guy who can ‘see’ it, but who hasn’t yet figured out how to produce it. Fourth – they’re naked. This is pre-clothing. There are three layers there, but at this point in 2018 I hadn’t yet started to think about clothing.
As rough as it is, though, I like it. There are a lot of emotions here. I see worry, consternation, dependence, invocation, disappointment, and of course tremendous happiness on those KerDoodle faces. That the nose lines (the one in front of the eyes and behind the nose on the side view critters) are so thick also tells me how early this drawing was. Later on I figured out that a much narrower line was just as functional, and occasionally I’d even go out of my way to lose the line altogether. The title is also a little ironic. “Poker Face” means something other than is going on here. These guys are showing all their tells. They aren’t fooling anyone.
So that’s just a sampling of the early stuff. Remembering that I’m my own harshest critic I’m going to go out on a limb and say that some of it is, quite honestly, embarrassing. Some is good. All of it shows progress, and learning, and desire. I can say that I’m very pleased with the evolution of the KerDoodles at this stage. But I’m most pleased about what the KerDoodles are. They are flawed, sweet, kind, loving – occasionally irritable. They are what I think the ideal human should be. They hold no grudges. They have no preconceptions. They don’t pre-judge anything. They are full of the milk of human kindness, as I wish actual humans would be.
One last story before I move on. One day, again on the school bus while waiting at the school, I had a little junior approach me. I’ll call him Tony. He asked me if I’d draw him a cartoon. Well, knowing that inspiration is the largest part of my muse I asked him what kind of cartoon he’d like. He started to tell me what was in his young mind: a tall guy, big muscles, huge guns, camo unis, facial hair, a big scowl. These are not his words; I’m describing for you what he told me he wanted. I told Tony that I would think it over and let him know. He gave me some samples of the kind of thing he was thinking about, and that night I went online to look it up.
I was horrified! Absolutely horrified! I quickly told myself that big muscles, huge guns, camo unis etc could in no wise ever emanate from my proverbial pen. There was no way. That’s just not who I am. So the next day while waiting to set off we chatted again and I explained to him what I draw. “I draw love,” I said. “I draw sweetness and kindness, and caring. I draw funny. There’s no anger in any of my drawings,” I said. “There’s only understanding and curiosity and concern.” I apologized, but told him I’d be happy to draw him something from my heart if he’d like. He said, “sure”, and that was the last we spoke of it.
Later on I did draw a picture for him. I doubt he ever saw it, but this is it.
Perhaps I disappointed little Tony, I don’t know. I like to think that, instead, I introduced him to some softer, kinder words and thoughts than he was being shown already. Maybe I gave him a chance to avoid the incipient violence of our age.
Wouldn’t it be nice if my little drawings could do that?