Artsy Fartsy – Part the Second


So now how about some Stephen King? I’ve read quite a few of that prolific author’s books, and seen lots of his movies. I know he has expressed concern over the years that the movies weren’t really faithful to his plots, but what can you do? How do you take a novel of umpty-thousand words and compress it into a movie-length script without losing some of the finer points of the story?

This iconic moment is from the film, The Shining. In the movie, the boy is riding his tricycle around the halls of that big hotel when he turns the corner and runs into the ghosts of two little girls. They entreat him to join them in eternal habitation of the hotel, as they put it – for ever and ever and ever. It’s a scary moment. Spine-tingling. I remember the first time I saw it – yes, my spine actually tingled! So here’s my KerDoodle rendition of that moment. It’s not terrifying. But it is scary, in an ‘isn’t-that-cute’ kind of way.

Another Stephen King effort – a more recent one – is It.

The art, makeup and effects in this one – being far more modern – are really on point. Terrifying would be a better word. So with that word ringing in my ears, well, I absolutely had to give it the ol’ KerDoodle nod, yes? So I did. I drew this, in essence, for Halloween, and of course I hung it up in the school bus – my rolling KerDoodle art gallery – and darn it all if the kids didn’t seem to quietly zero in on this one and study it every day. What is it about dark subjects that draws people in, anyway?

The caption is, “beware of, you know… It,” and that softening of the text is absolutely deliberate. I’m pretty sure the majority of my readers are adult, or mature, (not necessarily both), but I’m also pretty sure that kids will occasionally see my work (school bus), and I certainly don’t want to frighten them. Remember what I told that boy who wanted me to draw the muscle-bound soldier type with machine guns hanging around his neck? Same thing here. I gotta draw the KerDoodles in the way they want to be drawn. I can’t make them fit an ugly mould just because ugliness is in vogue at the moment. No, this homage to It is just about as evil-looking as my KerDoodles will ever be.

You show me the kid in the seventies who didn’t watch Star Trek on TV and I’ll show you an honest politician. That’s right. They probably don’t exist. This is my homage to the Star Trek franchise. The Enterprise is there, on a starry backdrop, as our own Cap’n Kirk looks proudly on. It’s a simple nod to all the Trek things that stimulated the brain of youngsters like me: phasers, tribbles, transporters and shields, huge banks of instruments, warp engines, and heroes from all walks of life. Terrific things that made us believe in a bigger universe than our every day reality allowed.

Next up is my nod to Chicken Run, a claymation production detailing the odyssey of a bunch of chickens trying to escape the coop.

Chicken Run, of course, was itself an homage to The Great Escape (1963), with such greats as Steve McQueen and James Garner. This one was from the earlier period – several elements suggest as much, as pantsless KerDoodles stride purposefully toward the coop’s gate. You can see here that I’m playing with light a lot. The dusky light over the far horizon, the ambience in proximity to the inmates, and the yellow light of the windows all require the use of techniques which I remember learning for the first time about eight months after I started drawing. The chain link fence in front was I think also the first use of a new tool in my arsenal.

It was exciting at the beginning, as I perceived a problem, worked out a solution, and applied the solution to a drawing. I did a lot of technical practice in those days, in a folder which never saw the light of day. But of course, that’s only right.

A few more to go. The next one was my ‘take’ on the Swedish Chef, from the Muppets.

I know, they don’t look much alike, but trust me, he’s in there. The KerDoodle is simple enough, in his inordinately large smock and pink bow tie, but as the reminiscing artiste it’s the other objects which interest me. I can see with my critical eye that I took a shortcut here – one which I would not take if I were to draw this today: the objects on the counter are not hand-drawn, but are from a photograph. I don’t remember if I borrowed the photo, or borrowed elements, but they’re quite obvious, really. “Shame on me”, says I. “Not so fast,” replies I to myself, chiding myself for being so hard on myself. This is still from 2018, and if I remember rightly it was quite early on in the journey. So while I wouldn’t do that today (in fact, thinking about it and scanning through my archives I can’t see any other time that I did do this) I am not going to chide myself for doing it then. It was lazy, perhaps, but it shows I still lacked the confidence at that time to try to draw the objects myself.

So, um, yeah. It’s an homage, but kind of on the lite side.

I remember I was quite pleased at the time with this next one.

I was enjoying the crimmy series, Father Brown, at the time – murder, but with a gentle, family touch – and I thought it deserved a nod. If you haven’t seen the show, the basic premise is that a Priest in post-war England is better at solving crimes than the local plod. My take – again, early on – shows a very adventurous attempt at a cathedral, a motor car, flowers and the show’s main characters – Father Brown on his bike, Mrs M, the chauffeur and Bunty, the wealthy young lady who occasionally teases the edge of propriety to get the Father the information he needs to solve the crime. The background techniques here are done with a watercolour effect – ‘water’ smeared over and around the grass and the sky to give it a hazy, nondescript look. This is one that I saw in my mind before I started drawing. I can’t put too fine a point on it: I have always found that the best results came when I saw the result in my mind before I started drawing.

Next is this little thing from 2020. If this doesn’t demonstrate how my technique evolved, nothing will.

In the first place, it’s funny. It has a punchline which, well, you know, tickles the ribs. The background is interesting – stretching off into the distance – the ark (I think) is quite well conceived and executed, and the KerDoodle animals – well, that’s a whole different subject. Rabbits, monkeys, giraffes, dogs, moose (Meese? Moosi? Mooses? 🤔), horses, elephants, all, two-by-two, entering or already inside the ark.

The piece speaks to the importance of communication, and to the limitations of technology. Ok, I don’t really think there were answering machines or voicemail when the original Noah did his thing, but a guy can dream, can’t he? And you know, there might be an element of truth to this. It is just possible that this communicative faux pas is the reason KerDoodles today are in such limited supply. Perhaps – just perhaps – they were invited to the ark, and they answered the call, but they went to the wrong place. I don’t know. It’s a theory.

The last little homage I’ve decided to include here is this early but adventurous little thing.

A shiny new nickel to the first person who can tell me without reading ahead, who this fellow is. Well? Well? That’s right, it’s Liberace. All flash, he was, and a lot of pizazz. I’ve coined this homage, “Liberacedoodle” to show this happy fellow posing next to his snazzy grand piano. I was no huge fan of Liberace, but there’s no denying his showmanship, hmm? And I thought there really should be a KerDoodle version.

So these are some of my favourite KerDoodle tribute drawings. They were fun to draw, and they really were done in a spirit of adulation. I think they reference iconic moments and individuals in the human experience, and they demonstrate how close to humans the KerDoodles really are. I hope you enjoyed them.

In the next chapter we’re going to look in a bit more depth at something I dropped in a couple of pages ago: animals. You see, once the KerDoodles were themselves fully established I felt the need to expand, to grow the repertoire to include animals of different kinds. It’s not really a big stretch. Animals are a big part of our lives – whether we like them or not – so why shouldn’t they similarly be a part of the life of a KerDoodle?

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