A Few Favourites

So it’s time for me to show you a few favourites. Let’s face it, in earlier sections you’ve already seen some. Baby Get Bach is one. The Cash is Under the Floorboards is another. I loved almost all of the pictures I drew for the School Bus Adventure – especially the space capsule fly-by and Jace’s first day – that one because it really did look like that. I loved Julia’s Pre-Trip and The Well-Groomed Horse, KerDoodle Farms and… the list goes on and on. I know which ones I loved, and which ones felt a little forced, even as I drew them.

But there are more! This one, for example, which was remarkably complex considering it was actually an Early Work.

It was drawn for Halloween of 2018 – a stagecoach for KerDoodle ghosts, screaming across the desert toward nowhere. There’s something incredibly satisfying about seeing an outcome in my mind and then actually bringing it to life, and that’s what happened here. Somehow, even with my decided lack of experience, the hand – the wrist – got the lines and the colours right in this one.

Covid was a very difficult time, but that didn’t mean it was immune to the KerDoodle treatment. In fact, if there was anything that cried out for mirth and hilarity, it was the COVID pandemic. I drew about a dozen COVID-themed pieces in all, but to save you from having to revisit that dark time I’ll just include a couple here.

It’s not funny – it wasn’t meant to be. It was meant as an homage to the medical people who were fighting that terrible pestilence on the front lines. The doctors, the nurses, the cleaning staff – all were crucial to the system which looks after us – and all greatly deserved our appreciation. There was a lot of crazy rhetoric and behaviour through that time. In this piece I particularly liked how wonderfully clean the reflections made everything look.

Here’s another COVID piece.

I’m not particularly religious myself, but I recognize the reverence which can and should come from devoting a portion of your mind to quiet ministrations, and the religious arena often facilitates this. At the same time I have concerns over the many fundamentalists who turned the fight to control COVID into some kind of faux religious crusade – how they looked on mandates on gatherings as attacks on the right to worship. In my view nothing could be further from the truth. Religion continues to exist. The right to worship if you want to is still held sacrosanct. Nothing has changed except that people were just asked to do things a little differently for a while as a horrible disease ravaged the population. The KerDoodles are not political in the slightest, but as a human being I believe I do sometimes have the right to have my say. So, worship as you choose, but don’t let paranoia make you crazy.

Anyway, that’s just about enough of that! Take a quiet moment to remember those who lost their lives to COVID, and then we’ll move on… to yet another COVID-inspired presentation.

Remember the early days of COVID when everyone suddenly had to figure out how to communicate without being together? The ZOOM® phenomenon took the world by storm! Suddenly everyone had to get online if they wanted to learn, work, or just not go stir-crazy. I did it. You did it. We all did it!

So what do we have here? Eating, crying, showing off family pics. Happy, yakky, bemused, cool, angry, kid-interrupted, determined, attentive, coffee-drinking, my dog, me, sleepy, nose-picking, dog at night – there’s so much! And so many situations to which I think we can all relate. Yes, that’s little me in the picture in the middle, fourth row down. Looking very important, if I do say so myself. This one definitely came from the inspired list.

I then went through a period of doing some underwater work – not for any specific reason or purpose but to learn and apply new techniques.

This is one of the drawings I came up with. To give you an idea of the complexity of these works, each one employs probably twenty or thirty separate layers – for objects, critters, and for all the colours involved. There’s also a layer for the effect which makes the image slightly translucent. Each one of these underwater images took about a week to draw. I did have fun with them, though – I always love to learn new things and a great deal of learning came from these offerings.

This one really got my comedy juices flowing.

If you’re paying attention you’ll discern my subtle English sense of humour here. I don’t believe I need to lay it out specifically and in detail for you, but when I drew it I really got a kick out of it.

Same with this one.

The carrot fridge is empty and as a result he is one hot, cross bunny. The reflections were something I learned to do with the COVID offering above and I’ve used them again here. They add a certain sumpin-sumpin, I think. They give the work real depth and character – and even realism. I like it.

How about a little hair on your chest?

Yes, I know. The shameless use of a simple aphorism for the purposes of a laugh. Unbelievable! There oughta be a law.

“So why don’t you draw people?” I was once asked. Well, as you’ve seen before, very occasionally I do.

So here we have newly-elected President Biden responding to a crisis. And boy, are they in trouble! The real joke here is the idea of unity in a crisis.

Then there’s this one.

It’s along the lines of the earlier skydiving offering, but a little more KerDoodley. The KerDoodles are far more assured by this time – more comfortable in their own skin, if you will. The earthscape is all mine. It’s still simple, but it also has some complexities. I like this one mostly because it came out exactly the way I envisioned it, and there’s always a supreme satisfaction in that.

Finally, this one was born in my subconscious while I was watching TV one night. I believe one of the characters in the show used these very words, and this image popped into my head completely unbidden.

It had to be drawn. No ifs, ands, or hanging KerDoodle buts about it.

A final homage, perhaps, because it is one of my favourites. Along with Charles M. Schulz, one of my artistic idols was Berkeley Breathed, the creator of – as he references him – the ‘existentialist penguin’, Opus. I felt constrained to do some kind of honorific for him too.

So here we are, in the Antarctic, on a cruise, with Opus and his family. Yes, there’s a KerDoodle here. There are actually three, if you look on the bow of the ship in the background. They’re enjoying this little penguin family portrait moment. I actually emailed Mr Breathed through his website with a copy of this, seeking permission, or making apologies, I’m not sure which, but I didn’t hear back. I therefore invoke ‘fair use’ for the purposes of showing it here, and hope, hope, hope that he doesn’t hate me.

Oh man, look at how complex the KerDoodles have become!

For some reason this fellow is wandering around a cemetery in the dark. Evidently, he’s doing some ghost hunting, but it’s pretty clear that he’s having second thoughts as he’s figured out that he’s not as alone as he thought. I love the light in this one. The torchlight on his face, the mistiness, the bounce of the glow off the headstones, and the high-tech ghost hunting gadgetry hanging from his belt. Can you see the ghost KerDoodle who’s with him, peering out from behind the closest headstone? He’s very faint, but he’s there. Is that the ghost of Garth, I wonder, mentioned on the next marker over? I just don’t know.

Once I started drawing aliens I started seeing them everywhere.

I mean, surely they are at least as socially well-organized as we are, right? They don’t just fly around up there for nothing, right? They get paid, like we do (probably better), they raise little aliennettes, pay off loans on their family space ships, they hunt, and gather, and provide, right? So, one day I was thinking about all this important stuff when I suddenly pictured how it would look with an alien at the bank, cashing his cheque. Yup, no clothes. Shameless! I enjoyed drawing the bank in this one, and for some reason I was surprised at how well the trees outside of the windows turned out. I’m not exactly sure why. They look quite real!

Truly one my favourites ever is Marshmallow Dance.

I was working the mountain bus job when I conceived this one. All those campers, dancing in the dark around a warm and welcoming campfire. The marshmallows on forks, the curious, deep-green trees looking on. All invoking smiles such as are usually remembered best only in childhood! Definitely an ‘Ah yes, I remember when’ sort of thing.

I was, and still am, very satisfied with the colours in this one – the deep black of night, the red and orange glow of the fire, the bright red flecks of cinder and ash headed inexorably for the sky. I was very pleased, too, at the effect I created when I shadowed the fireward surfaces of each happy KerDoodle with a bright orange, but very, very thin line because it truly helped define the character and to tether him or her corporeally to the naturalness all around. It’s almost as if they are emerging – evolving – from the darkness which surrounds them.

It’s so simple, yet so joyous. And that’s what truly defines the KerDoodles. The joy. The innocence. The inherent kindness. The idea that to do nasty, vicious, or violent things to anyone for any reason is simply anathema to what they are – to what we are supposed to be. It just does not compute. Is it my most complex work ever? It is very busy indeed, but probably not. But I love it – because it has a delicious kind of exuberance about it that is really appealing.

After such a sublime state of affairs, here are a few random favourites for your enjoyment and edification before we move on.

I See KerDoodles

So if aliens are visitors from another place, are ghosts visitors from another dimension? Or another time? I’m fascinated with the interplay between we living, corporeal, sentient animals and the spiritual, insubstantial echoes of people who have supposedly gone on before. I’ve had a few experiences, but I still don’t know the answers – nor does anyone – of what actually happens on the other side of the veil. What I do know, however, is that if humans have these questions, so too do KerDoodles. They are, after all, reflections of ourselves.

With this ‘fact’ in mind I started exploring interactions between us (we being KerDoodles ourselves) and them. This was fun for me. There were again new techniques to learn, including but not limited to opacity and transparency. I had fun drawing the expressions on the faces of the KerDoodles who encountered these entities. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, I don’t think anyone can deny it’s a fascinating subject.

This one was the first.

These indeterminate, monk-like apparitions are gliding through the snow from and to who knows where. It’s an idyllic scene on a photographic background. Its function was, pure and simple, to showcase the transparency feature. If you look really closely you can in fact see through them, though if I were drawing this one today I confess I would make them larger and more obviously transparent. They are strange-looking KerDoodles indeed! The ears are there, but the shape otherwise is just a little off. In fact, if I remember rightly, this was drawn before I had really figured out how to use the zoom feature for detailed drawing. This has the distinctive look of an early work – it’s right on the edge of inexperience.

So is this one, where a KerDoodle angel is rising from the earth to the heavens.

I’m not sure what I was going for here, although I think it had to do with KerDoodle mortality. How do you like my version of the Earth? It shows vague representations of Australia, Africa and South America. I think.

Here’s Richard again – the ghost kidoodle on the school bus.

He sure does look lonely, doesn’t he? It occurred to me one morning after the morning run. I had parked the bus in the yard and as I did my customary ‘last glance’ down the shell of the bus I wondered if Richard ever forgot to get off the bus at the school with the other kidoodles. If he did, he might well feel pretty sad as he waited for the afternoon run.

Let me explain Richard a bit more for you. Richard was a construct of my genius mother from when I was little. Sometimes in our Lynton Avenue home there would be creaks and groans and noises which scared my sister and I. Well, my mom told us not to worry – that it was only Richard, fooling around in the attic. She explained him as a little fellow who was just having fun, so we didn’t need to worry about anything. Richard has stuck with me through all these years. I still blame him for strange noises and lost keys. He doesn’t mind.

When I was driving the school bus he made himself available again. At one point in my route in the second year, because of this and that and the other, it wasn’t unusual for us to be ahead of our schedule. Well, that’s no good, because parents time things so that they arrive with their kids at the stop about five minutes ahead of the bus. So if the bus is early, the parents become late and they could potentially miss the bus.

Because of traffic concerns and consideration it’s not always easy to wait at the bus stop itself (quite a few of them are in fairly busy intersections), so I chose a quiet spot where – if I was ahead of schedule – we could sit for a few minutes and not bother anyone. It was only usually three or four minutes – if at all – not much. But it was enough to pique the interest of some of the kids on the bus.

“Bus driver, why do we stop here every day when no one gets on?”

“Well, sweetie, this is Richard’s stop. We have to wait for Richard.”

“Who is Richard?”

I, incredulous: “Richard? Well, he’s the ghost kid. I thought you knew him. He speaks very highly of you.”

“Oh, that Richard. Yes, I know Richard. Is he here yet?”

I look at the clock on the dashboard.

“No, not yet. Unless… yes, that’s him over there. Look, he’s running towards us!”

“He looks funny when he runs!”

“Well, I think I’ll tell him you said that.”

“No, don’t! Please, bus driver. Please don’t tell him.”

“Well, okay. He’s crossing the road now. Nice job – looking both ways.”

And then I’d watch the sidewalk in front of the bus, following ‘Richard’ visually as he approached the doors. I’d open the doors to let him in, close them behind him, then watch in the number seven mirror (the big one for watching inside activities) to see where he chose to sit down today.

“Move over a bit, Lexie. He wants to sit next to you.”

“Really?” Lexie, or Clarissa, or Maisie would say (whoever he decided to sit next to), but then she’d move over and look beside her. Perhaps she’d smile. Perhaps she’d frown. Either way, she believed, and that was the important thing.

It’s possible the kids thought I was crazy for going through this little drama every day, but I don’t think so. As evidence of this, I will tell you that there were a few times when we weren’t ahead of schedule so I didn’t need to stop.

“Bus driver, you forgot Richard!”

“Oh, no, sweetie – Richard’s mom let me know this morning that he won’t be on the bus today. He has a bit of a sniffle.”

“Aww.”

I had fun with that. Maybe someday those kids will remember their kooky bus driver. Maybe. But maybe too the anticipation of being the first to see Richard running for the bus has fired their imagination a bit. Perhaps that imagination will inspire them in some way. If that’s the case, then I will have done a good thing.

The next ghost was inspired indeed. I got the idea because I’ve been religiously using an online tool to try to learn Spanish for several years now.

So, it occurred to me that all those ghost hunters who go to another country to film a TV show really are silly. They go all the way to Rumania, say – and they speak to the Rumanian spirits in English! Nary an interpreter in sight! And the presumption to me is breathtaking – that English should somehow be known to a spirit who only ever spoke Rumanian in life. Breathtaking impertinence!

So this one needed to be drawn because it occurred to me that the same barriers that exist for the corporeal might well be in effect for the spiritual. It has an ethereal feel to it. It’s a misty night with a full moon. The ghost is indeed following our hero home – not because he has any real drive to follow him, but because he doesn’t know what the heck he’s saying. Communication is so important.

Next, the wisdom of your ancestors. Also inspired, I had it in mind before I began. It took about one day to draw. It illustrates the need to pay attention – even when we’re sleeping – lest we miss out on important information.

And here’s a fairly terse poke at the burial process.

The ghost of the ‘customer’ in the coffin is watching as his body is carried to its final resting place. It’s a solemn occasion, to be sure, but it hasn’t escaped his attention that they aren’t using the high-quality coffin he ordered – and paid for! Let this be a lesson to the providers of these services: they are being watched.

After I drew this, it occurred to me to wonder why they are burying him at either sunrise or sunset. Maybe they’re just trying to sneak the illicit burial in. But, you ask, where are the family? Are there no loved ones? Maybe that’s the real reason our hero is annoyed at the cheap coffin.

Sometimes when I’m in my kitchen I’ll be working away at this or that – chopping onions, wiping, tidying, stirring – when all of a sudden I’ll feel like something just passed by the kitchen window on the outside. I’ll turn quickly and look, but there’s never anything there. Well, that was the inspiration behind this one.

Perhaps, it occurs to me, there is something to see, but when I’m looking straight ahead I just can’t see it. Perhaps it’s there now, doing what this ghost KerDoodle is doing – sticking his tongue out at me.

How about some ghost hunters?

I don’t know if you’ve watched those shows on TV where a crew of ghost hunters visits an abandoned structure in an attempt to hear or see strange occurrences. They go with so much equipment – recorders, flashing lights, grids of laser light, ULS, DSLR, UPS, sometimes even ELO! Now, I don’t know what all those mean, but I thought a few of those investigatory moments needed to be captured in KerDoodle form, so here you go.

In the first, there’s a ghost shouting, trying to get through. Apparently, though, none of their equipment is picking him up. This one grew from me, wondering how often that happens.

In this one we see the ghost KerDoodle banging a ghostly object on a pipe on the wall. He’s making a noise which has attracted the attention of our valiant hunters, though of course they can’t see anything because he’s behind a box. This one was scary enough that I thought a teddy bear was a good idea. Of course, even the teddy bear looks a little bit disconcerted.

In this next one, our intrepid crew are caught in mid exploration when a spirit suddenly walks out of the wall.

Everyone’s shocked, of course, including the guy outside, looking in. The ghost cat is not upset but, well, it’s a cat and I don’t think anything upsets cats. The guy in the basement has red eyes and is peering up from behind a bucket with the good advice on it of, ‘don’t kick the bucket’. Presumably we should worry about making a lot of noise.

I remember this one took me almost a week to draw. There are so many layers involved here – at least thirty, probably more, and there are a lot of little details. The hangman’s noose, the spider, the picture on the wall, the bucket, the boot, the teddy bear, the scarf, the flashlights (and their light), the ceiling tile falling down, the cracks on the floor, the holes in the wall. If you’re not paying attention, you could miss stuff. So pay attention!

Of course, I got to thinking about the relationship between ghosts and humans. I mean, if we’re so organized and so structured here, what about them? Are they free to go where they want, to do what they want, to scare who they want? Or are they subject to schedules as we are? If they are free of this mortal coil, are they free of all obligations and responsibilities, or are they bound as we are to rigid expectations? Is the act of haunting a matter of ghostly rights and pleasures, or is it the job that was assigned to them when they checked out?

In this one, Hank is scheduled for the 1am haunting, and he’s good at it. Because of how reliable he is, a corpykerdy (empirical, not rhetorical) has established a ghost-hunting tour to begin fifteen minutes ahead.

Great. Now I’m wondering what they do in their time off.

Halloween is a magical, mystical time of year for kids of all sizes and ages, as evidenced in this little offering.

The sight in the street, around my house anyway, is something to behold. Little ghosts and goblins, lords and ladies, witches, robbers and pirates, and yes, even a little Charlie Brown, breeze eagerly from suburban house to suburban house in the irreducible hunt for Halloween swag. There’s a mom, making sure, and a little red devil being devilish. Pumpkins, bats, a flying witch, and a ghost. Does it get any better than this? My mom says I’m good at the facial expressions. What do you think? Do you agree? Be very careful, disagreeing with my mom.

Aliens.

Oh, Lordy, but did I have fun with the aliens! There are so many ways to think about them, to use the word, that it really was a smorgasbord of ideas for a creative like me. You might remember the first space scene I drew, on page 40. Well, right about that same time I drew these.

This first is quasi-political. It’s an entreaty to be kind – to be clean. It’s an alien commenting on the way we humans seem to make a big mess wherever we go. Yes, that’s a photographic background. No, I didn’t take it – I’ve been called ‘spaced out’ a few times but I’ve never been to the moon. It was one of my first KerDoodle aliens – you can see that I haven’t quite figured out their final form yet. He’s got the dog-ears of the regular KerDoodle, and a very pale skin and jumpsuit. His eyes are black circles, with small white circles inside – the reverse of the usual KerDoodle norms. I like him, but he’s not quite there yet.

The same in the next one, which – imagine that – I drew somewhere around Christmastime.

Again, they’re pale grey. But this time they’re a little more insect-like – solid, round faces with long, grey antennae, and thin, flat feet. In this one, the scene is simple. Santa has landed with his sleigh on the surface of the moon – or whatever other planet he has detoured to – and he’s being held up apparently at gunpoint by a gang of KerDoodle aliens. Santa looks scared – at first. But soon – as we see in panel 2 – he’s leading the aliens in a friendly, stomach-clutching, uproarious cacophony of mirth. The guns are lying in the background, unneeded, undesired. Santa has worked his magic on these nefarious chaps, and they are completely intoxicated. And isn’t that the way it should be? What place is there in KerDoolia, in the Village, or even in our world for all the anger and the angst? It’s so unproductive. So much better to just put the weapons away, and laugh.

The next one shows the development of the KerDoodle aliens.

The basic shape is there now: long trunk, long head, high, pointy eyes. They’re still a pale shade of grey – they haven’t darkened up yet. Their feet are looking a bit strange, but even they are a sign of progress toward what they eventually became. The scene is simple enough: our KerDoodle hero has apparently been abducted and is on the deck of the space ship. The Captain has his inordinately long arm wrapped around him (is it a welcome or a threat?). There’s a grin on his face and he’s looking nervously left, at the Captain. Who knows what thoughts are crossing through his mind?

Outside there’s a rocket flying by – clearly having just taken off from the planet Earth. There’s also another little lite craft hovering by – one which we will see more and more often as we continue to encounter our new alien friends.

After this one the final form of the KerDoodle aliens seemed to just set. I figured out the mould, and filled it in the same way more and more frequently. Like our regular KerDoodle friends, these guys are encountering earth as foreigners would, and because we are on the other side of the fourth wall, so are we.

So now that you know what’s going on with these alien types, how about a quick look through some more? This is a small selection of the aliens I drew – a selection from the inspired list, to be sure. Some are simple observations, some are actual attempts at humour. You be the judge. Rapid fire.

Isn’t this what’s supposed to happen with illegal aliens?

The relationship between aliens is not all that complex, but it is fraught with difficulties. Here we are, up to our old tricks again.

But, that’s not how it’s supposed to work!

An alien named Roger? Outrageous!

The space ship Enterprise must be thunderously loud, up-close. One question: how, on earth or off, did an ordinary KerDoodle wind up yakking with an alien?

Aliens gotta have their experiment subjects, so when the tractor beam breaks down they just do the best they can.

Going back to illegal aliens, here’s an civilized alien invasion.

This one is, I think, self-explanatory.

Actually, I love this one.

Which of our inventions, do you suppose, would be of any interest to aliens?

Another commentary on human trash.

This one takes a poke at our propensity to pollute. Between garbage and pollution we are a pretty filthy animal.

Nope. Not much of that around these days.

It occurred to me that aliens would probably have some kind of system in place for property management.

Ever wonder what’s going on when you see UFOs flying in formation?

Now you know.

Is there fire in space? There must be, or why bother with fire hydrants?

Is it true that the first two cars ever put on the road got in an accident together?

Do space craft use hi-test?

Because sometimes they just have to know.

Music Hath Charms

Have I mentioned that KerDoodles are also musical? Well, why wouldn’t they be, since they’re cartoonular representations of the human condition?

I started to see their musical side after a couple of years of drawing, and to hear it too. I gave them dignity by drawing them in full concert regalia, on a warm, black and gold background. There’s no commentary necessary for these. The only required acknowledgment is that in my opinion they deserve to be highlighted and celebrated.

So in this collection you’ll find various singers and instrumentalists – both traditional and non. Look here for trombone, oboe, trumpet, tuba, cello, triangle, violin, guitar, flute, harmonica, and comb. And singers? Boy, have we got singers! A men’s chorus, an operatic diva, a tenor, a bass. And what more could a music lover ever want or need?

Following the gallery we’ll take a look at a few more specific musical offerings. Click on an image to enlarge it.

Not all my musical nods were reverent, of course, because cartoons are also supposed to be fun. Let’s see a few which had fun with the subject. First, an enthusiastic tenor with a piano-playing accompanist.

I like how the velvet curtains in the background turned out. They make the ‘toon feel warm. Like many of my KerDoodle characters, everyone looks very happy in their work. And why wouldn’t they be? Such a sound they are making!

Next, the rabbits were always the kings of the double-entendre and they certainly didn’t mind going after music and musicians.

Here we have a couple of classic misunderstandings. Sometimes I pat myself on the back when I come up with these – even though I know it’s not really original humour. I think I just like being a cornball.

Running kidoodles, a sprint to the finish, a sleeping KerDoodle, a policeman showing signs of annoyance, an old man, an airplane, a slide – and even an homage to the First KerDoodle and much, much more. As I recall this took me about a week to draw. I finished it up with ET and the love birds in the heart, and posted it here.

I have always enjoyed this kind of Breughelesque treatment of certain subjects. In a later chapter I’ll share a few more.

Then one day I was thinking up a limerick for some reason and it occurred to me that there was no reason a KerDoodle couldn’t also be a country singer. Thus was born the Country Crooner – a dry-witted, sardonic, ironic fellow with dreams of creating the perfect iambic pentameter.

Here he’s lamenting his financial status. This chap went on to produce some pretty classy material – in a cornfield kind of way. He’s a cowboy musician who picks up his li’l ol’ gee-tar an’ plays himself some silly toons. I remember the day I thought of him, and how surprised I was that he came out so well. Why? Because drawing things like limbs in awkward positions is hard for me and yet this guy was born without too much trouble at all. Yes, suddenly there he was: a quiet, subdued, but totally active fellow, fully and happily engaged in the making of music.

This next one, and the last music-specific entry for our purposes, I was very pleased with at the time, and I still am.

Oh, I traced the heck out of that organ – make no mistake about that – but the work of bringing this to life is all me. The KerDoodle? Obviously, 100% original. The light and shadow – all me. It’s called “Baby Get Bach” – in itself a double-entendre suggesting the famous song, and a need to immerse oneself in the music of the great musician. The mouse, the smile, the book – all come together to deliver a warm, happy fellow greatly enjoying his innate musical abilities.

So that was music and musicians. There were more, of course – these are simply representative. Suffice it to say, these musicians had to be. They simply had to be.

On the Buses

So you might recall that I have some experience driving school bus. Yes that was me, at the wheel of a forty-foot rolling petri dish full of human cargo, belting out the Beatles classic, “We all live in a yellow submarine”.

I did that job for about two years. To be clear, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The kids were great (for the most part), and operating and being responsible for a great big bus and lots of peoples’ hopes and dreams was really quite satisfying. I wasn’t all that keen on getting up at 5am to do pre-trips in -30°C cold and giving up an entire day to work a split shift for astonishingly low money, but on balance I’m very glad I did it. I’m quite certain that if it weren’t for COVID I would still be there, slogging away, yakking in the driver’s room with other drivers awaiting shifts, sitting on instructions, listening to the kids prattle on, and not necessarily in that order. It was fun. It was social. It was affirmative. And it gave me a whole gold mine of inspiration for the KerDoodles.

So I’d be terribly remiss if I didn’t include a few of the bus drawings I did either for my fellow drivers, or with them in mind.

I got my bus driver’s license in May of 2018 – about six months after I started to draw the KerDoodles. The first assignment they gave me was to take up a route for the last two weeks of the school year. I was told by the Principal of that school, who welcomed me wholeheartedly, that the kids on my route had been through about six different drivers the year before, so they weren’t really all that good at the bus thing. Well, I’m good with kids, so I took that into account as they loaded, and started fooling around. Once the kids were on board and the doors were closed, I stood in the aisle and addressed them. It was wonderful. I had all the answers. In my mind I had a vision of kids who would listen when I spoke, who would respect the almighty power of the driver of the bus. I believed they would understand what I was saying, and that they would obey without question. Boy, was I wrong! Let’s just say that the first two weeks of my bus driving gig were exhausting and frustrating. I can’t count the number of times I had to pull over to the side of the road with the flashers on to give the little darlings yet another lecture. Now, some might use that as a reason to quit, or to switch routes, or to file complaints, but not me. I used it as an impetus. I recognized, you see, that the kids were acting up because of inconsistency. If they had indeed been through six drivers in the past year then they had not been given clear and steady expectations to live up to. It’s hard to do the right thing if you don’t know what that is, and it was all but guaranteed that if those kids had had different levels of caring that you will inevitably get from six different drivers then they really didn’t have a clue what was expected. How could I punish them for that? The impetus was there for me to be sure to return in the fall and give these kids a chance to learn that lesson, to figure out by steady application of knowledge how they were supposed to behave on the bus.

That’s a lot of words to say that I decided to go back and give them a whole year of dedicated, determined inculcation – just to see if they could be taught. On the final school day I assured them that I would be back in the fall so they should spend their summer doing absolutely nothing but contemplating what they had learned about behaving on the bus, and of course I’m completely sure that happened.

I then spent the summer working charters to get some experience driving the bus. I had a blast. It’s hot as hell in one of those old buses on a summer day, but I didn’t care. I was learning, and socializing, and establishing practices and procedures, and keeping my bus clean, and I was having a great deal of fun with all that.

When the fall came, I was ready. I observed closely as the yard’s operations ramped up, and when I was told that my assigned unit was out for inspection it occurred to me that there was a whole world of activity going on behind the scenes which the kids never see, and it inspired me to draw something to suggest it.

This is what I came up with.

Yes, that’s the actual bus we used for route 293 that year. In reality, the bus was out for mechanical inspection, to ensure it was safe for use. But in my mind I saw it being cleaned and tightened and twiddled and scrubbed and mopped and painted to within an inch of its own existence in order to be ready for the kidoodles who would depend on it for their very lives. The part of this one that I like the most is the two guys on the hood. One is painting the SCHOOL banner above the windshield, but he’s misspelled it and his supervisor is shaking his head in disappointment. Maybe someone needs to go back to school.

You can tell this is an early drawing. The KerDoodles still have awkwardness to them – stray lines, extra lines. They aren’t yet wearing any pants – they’re all apparently male, too – there are no pink ones around, not even in the office. From my memory, it’s from about August 2018 – so, eight months after The First KerDoodle.

The A-frame sign on the right being painted by the KerDoodle rather inexpertly perched on his knees is an actual representation of the sign I drew for the bus window – the one that denoted the route information that must legally be in every school bus in service. Kids of 293, St Benedict, I was effectively saying, all this work is being done for you.

I drew a number of things to hang inside the bus, too – important information the kids needed – since they were the only ones allowed inside. By policy, the kids had to have an assigned seat, though it was up to me, the driver, whether they had to actually sit in it or not. Other drivers scribbled on magnets, or stuck little pieces of paper on the wall/ceiling above the seats. I, of course, represented the kids in KerDoodle form, with their name, to show they owned the seat. With the kids of 293 the assigned seats were used as a kind of carrot. If you behave, you can sit where you like. If you don’t behave, you’ll sit in your assigned seats. Grrrrr. And by the way, big kids were assigned seats with little kids, friends away from friends, so I really was trying to get them to voluntarily behave. It worked. And it didn’t. Kids will be kids, and those kids were particularly good at it.

Anyway, I hung this drawing by the front door of the bus.

The photo in the background was taken by me, in the actual spot where I parked the bus to await the afternoon pick up. The sign’s message is obvious: use the handrail. The steps are steeper than you think. I don’t need you falling backwards and bonking your little noggin on the ground outside!

The next one I drew as a matter of course as soon as I took the bus over in my first spring.

It’s a simple Dos and Don’ts for the kids’ benefit. The left image was based on fact: things I had actually seen, with perhaps a soupçon of hyperbole for effect versus the superlative, the utopian – the highly unlikely, at least for the 293 group. Somewhere in between the two extremes would have been satisfactory, had we ever quite gotten there. In that first year, we didn’t. We did make some progress – some kids learned to do it right – but most did not. I remember one troublesome boy with whom I had butted proverbial heads a few times over his inability to stay in his seat. About a week from the end of school he stopped by my seat on his way off the bus. I said, “Goodnight, Matthew.” He replied, “you know, I’m going to be very happy never to have to get on this bus again.” I didn’t take this personally, and I didn’t take it as a defeat. I took it as an acknowledgment that we had been at loggerheads – and that he had noted my role as an educator figure in his life. He was one who had improved very slightly during the year. I told him, “Give it time, Matthew. Everyone has stuff to work on. I will miss you even if you don’t miss me.” I don’t think he expected me to say that.

Following up on these informative posters I started focusing on drawing the bus. To begin with the buses were somewhat realistic in appearance. I would take a photograph in the yard, trace the outline of the bus, and fill in some of the details manually. Then, of course, I would add KerDoodles. This image of a flat-nosed KL (KerDoodle Lines) bus garnered a certain appreciation around the yard. It shows a simple bus, waiting to take an early morning group of holiday-goers and their luggage to their destination. I mentioned earlier that the bulk of my experience that first summer was in charters – well, this is what I was talking about: getting up very early to get the bus woken, to get it ready and to get to the pickup location. Yup, that’s me, behind the wheel.

Horses and Such

My sister is an equestrienne extraordinaire (she told me to add the extraordinaire) so I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was trying to draw a horse. But my first ever drawings involving horses used photos I’d taken. Long before “hoarse” (somewhere above), I drew these fellows.

That’s Bear (the horse) and my sister, practicing their rising trot or their off-leg canter or some such thing. Little did they know that they were not as alone as they thought. They were accompanied by a shy, scared, little KerDoodle friend. You can just make him out – holding on for dear life. He’s got very short legs, but he makes up for it with very long arms. No pants. Yada-yada.

This was especially early on. At that time I was in the habit of naming the piece right on it, initialling it and indicating the year. This was before the days of the copyright notice.

This was 2017 – right about the same time as “Don’t Get Scared Now”, from page four, but shortly after I learned about layers. It’s the same for this one – “Don’t Forget Me”. It was extremely early on, before I’d even dreamt about clothes, hand-drawn trees, real KerDoodle horses and all that. It was pre-just-about-everything, evolutionwise, but I think it demonstrates the essence of the initial KerDoodle thrust: that they were everywhere, that I could see them, and that I was constrained, almost physically, to draw them even before I had a sense of what they were.

Here they are again as sis and friends ambled off into the woods, two on-board, one leg-bound as he fights to not be left behind. Second verse, same as the first – the message here is that they’re everywhere – if you but open your eyes and see.

These early horse things must have been filed subconsciously within me. Perhaps I ruminated in the interim on the possibility of drawing actual horses. Probably, because it was more than a year before I actually started to draw horse KerDoodles. I don’t remember which was the first, but I do remember getting a whole bunch of ideas at around the same time. Like the hare phenomenon, the horse thing just seemed to spring organically from my mind, as though from the earth of a horse farm, or something silly like that.

Yes: in rows they grew, neither photographic nor Thelwellian renditions of the equine form. An crude assemblage of circles, ovals and other highly apropos pointy bits, the KerDoodle horse was my unique, rib-poking take on one of the most glorious animals on the great good green earth of Gosh.

In much the same way as the rabbits, the excuse for many of the horse drawings was a saying of some kind. “You can lead a horse to water…” is one that sprang to mind.

Here, it’s bath day, and in full view of his pony-cronies this equine fellow is resisting. It’s all there. Fluffy, Doobey, Smiler and Amigito, a pile of hay, a bucket of apples, a bath with soap-frothed water, and a KerDoodle hand with a brush and a loofah sponge and a hard hat for his own self preservation. There’s trepidation in the air, and anger, and ambivalence, and mirth. Oh my!

Another horse-centric saying that demanded the KerDoodle treatment was Clothes Horse. For you youngsters out there who have never known ‘owt but the tumble dryer, a clothes horse is something your parents and grandparents used to hang small items of clothing on to let them dry, or de-wrinkle, or just chill. My take, however, just had to be a little different. By now I’m sure you expect no less.

Here he is. A well-dressed chap in a sweater, hat, bow tie, standing, fully fourth-wall-engaged in a nice and neat and tidy walk-in stable – I mean, closet.

Lordy, but this one took me a while to draw! About a week, as I recall. All those little details in there. Shirts, sweaters, pillows, bridles, reins, horse shoes, a wheelbarrow full of hay, shopping bags, a curry comb, a bucket of carrots, and a bucket of apples – what more could a distinguished-looking equine fellow in a purple sweater and a bow tie possibly need!? I had fun drawing this. It married well the very best parts of my imagination, my abilities, and the topic at hand. I hope you like it too.

In this next one I got just a little bit artsy-fartsy.

In KerDoodle Farms a reluctant, disdainful roan is being dragged (albeit with love) into a trailer for transportation to some event or other. I think I got the reluctance quite well, don’t you? The barn in the back is modelled on the barn at my sister’s farm – up to and including the motif above the door. There’s a suitable amount of excitement here, as the horse chappie looks back over his shoulder at the author of his discomfort, the unhappy-looking, jodhpur-clad, crop-holding boss. Bunny and chicken: we can’t forget them.

I remember being very pleased with how this all came together. No, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

A Hare of the Dog

This little expliqué of mine seems to have gone to the dogs. Sorry. How about a little hare of the dog, now?

This one, of course, comes from the phrase which drinkers (not soda pop, water, or juice) will understand. It’s an early thing, as evidenced by the shape of their heads – for a while there I really did have trouble with the side view. I decided to fool around with the phrase, “hair of the dog that bit me”, and tossed my hat with glee as it resolved into “the hare, and the dog that bit me.” Get it? It’s true: with the advance of the hares and the rabbits, the corn factor turned way up. There are so many ways to use and abuse the word ‘hare’; the temptation is just too strong.

This next one was, actually, the first use of the hare in my cartoons. I realized of course that I’d have to develop a whole new critter: body, feet, arms (no fingers), neat, ovular face, long, pointy ears. Seems pretty simple. So I combined the new critter with a big bowlful or corn, and this was the result. It occurred to me while I was watching a thriller movie – I forget which one. Someone (it may have been me) said the show was hair-raising, and, well, the rest is history.

The double entendre is, of course, that something scary can be hair-raising, but it can also mean lifting a rabbit off the ground. And, omigosh, if you somehow get another rabbit to do the raising, well, I just don’t know what! If you think about it, it can also mean a parent rabbit raising its young. I don’t know – it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The joke in the next one is just as obvious. It was also an early one, as you should be able to tell by now.

The rabbit is very rough – I hadn’t yet figured out how to make him walk. There are no trees or buildings to add dimension to this four-panel jape – I guess I got lazy. This particular panel was about the punch line, and it would seem that the sooner I got the reader to that, the better.

Once the hare thing was rolling, how could I possibly dream of resisting this one? It’s an iconic punchline – “waiter, there’s a hair in my soup”, but when it’s an entire rabbit it’s a completely justifiable concern.

The focus is on the bunny, sure, but also on the maître d’, and the chef in the background. The side view of our protagonist – the customer – is somewhat suspect. That tells me that it was an early 2019 thing – and/or that I just wasn’t on that day. It joins the others on the ‘inspired’ list. I sawn it before I drawn it.

Ever have a bad hair day? How about a bad hare day? We get used to our neighbourhood bunnies being quiet, respectful critters – hiding under a bush, dozing under trees, stuff like that. But what if your fluffy bunny misbehaves? What if he gets cranky and turns into a meanie and a bully? What if… Well, you tell me. For a card-carrying non-vegetarian, I sure do like the corn.

How about a bit more of the same before we trot on? Rapid fire!

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?

Marketing

After a while I started to think in terms of marketing. I know, incredibly optimistic, but whatcha gonna do? I had some mugs and calendars made up for friends and family, for Christmas, and darn it all if that didn’t actually lead to some orders! The response was quite positive (GET YOURS TODAY!!), so I drew this thing by way of seeing if the familial loyalty translated at all to the readership.

Sometimes I think my ironic mind is a little overpowering for the cartoon audience. I don’t know – I guess that’s up to you. All I know is that as the idea occurs to me so must it come out. This, of course, was a shameless, though subtle – and failed – attempt to drum up enthusiasm for a product. My ironic attempt to inspire confidence collapsed utterly. You can probably tell that I’m not a professional marketer. Heck, I’m not even a professional KerDoodler! But I am the only KerDoodler in the world, so that’s got to be worth something.

About this time I started thinking a little beyond the simple, KerDoodular moments of life – the pastiche, the montage elicited by the mundane. I started to think in terms of their lives. If, as the presumption goes, they are like us, surely this should be acknowledged in my little creations. Surely, all aspects of their temporality should be recognized – the good, and the bad. Life is life, after all. It comes with bumps and bruises, joys and pains, loves, challenges, urges – and ends. Surely all of that needs to be recognized. To me the KerDoodles are far more than mere cartoon characters. They are the best of us, they are our sweetest, softest centre – and I mean despite the pains they endure, or perhaps even because of them. They demonstrate who they are in all sorts of times, through all sorts of events. They show their kindness, no matter what. They cannot change who or what they are merely by being forced to endure adversity. On the contrary, adversity is what makes them who and what they are. And surely, that’s true of humans as well. We show what we are by how we respond to our experiences. We learn, and teach, and understand, and feel, and pass along our knowledge based on what we go through. We are all conflicted, irresolute, tenacious, frantic, limited, loving, caring KerDoodles. At least, I know I am.

In this one there’s been a death. There they are, outside the village walls, laying one of their number to rest. Do KerDoodles die? Perhaps it’s not the act or the fact of dying that matters, but the concept of ending. Ending and beginning. Give and take. Purpose. Function. Perhaps what’s important is the perspective we get – on life – when someone close to us dies. Perhaps, the act of understanding death is what’s truly important – not the emotions we feel when we go through it. The pain is real – I would never dream of trying to diminish it – but the observances are in aid of the living, not those who have passed.

All of these things and more passed through my mind when I contemplated drawing this one. It’s inexpert, as all the early ones were, but I think it shows, in a relatively sweet way, what I was thinking about at the time.

Inevitably, part of thinking about beginnings and endings is history, and pre-history. How long, I wondered one day, have the KerDoodles been around? Are they a recent discovery – coinciding with my desire to draw them – or have they always been there – through history, through time? The cave men expressed their creativity, and recorded their lives, by decorating their walls.

So I started wondering if at some point a cave KerDoodle hadn’t drawn caricatures of himself – if perhaps sketches of ancient, KerDoodle history, weren’t still to be found on the wall of some cave in some ancient country, somewhere near the village. I started to wonder. And to visualize. And then I started to draw. See the next page, then come right back.

This is definitely in the inspired column. I saw this, including the rough text of it, long before I drew it. Once I started drawing, it took only a few minutes because by their very nature as something crudely sketched on the wall of a cave they were allowed to be imperfect. I felt elated as I captured all the actions and emotions of these ancient KerDoodles. It’s a kind of KerDoodular version of a sacred text. I’m pleased with the results. I think it’s sweet, and subtle, and funny, and it gives context to a subject which might otherwise seem fundamentally anchorless.

Visitors, and so on

Did you ever have a visitor who felt like he belonged with you? That was the basis for this effort. This fellow is clearly just arriving. The taxi is leaving, so there’s no escape now. He’s brought a raft of belongings, of pooch-food, and so on, and it’s obvious that he’s getting ready for a long visit.

Let’s face it, he’s moving in.

Does that thought fill you with dread? You are the person who has opened the door. You are related to this visitor. Everyone likes company, having folks over for dinner, for a party, and so on. But do any of us want that person to move in, to take over, to actually join the ebb and flow of our life? If we meet someone we like, and we invite them into our life, that’s one thing, but is there anything worse than the permanent visitor?

I don’t remember what led to this one. It might have been something I saw on TV, or maybe I was having guests over and my mind wandered. I don’t know. But it raises a question. And it shows us interested types that KerDoodles, who unequivocally exist, are just like us. They have their mooches too.

Whoo – that was deep!

How about a little relief, then, from the comics – a little comic relief? This one is, I think, fairly self-explanatory, and extremely minimalist. I got a kick out of it. Yes, I was thinking of Pinocchio at the time.

When I was little my Mom used to tell me that she knew when I was lying. “How do you know that, Mommy,” I’d ask, and she’d reply, “because your eyes change colour.”

Of course, that’s not true (love you, Mom) but how else do you explain intuition, logic, and inference to a child? The growing nose of Pinocchio, too, was a fanciful way of telling a child that there are signs that lead an adult who is paying attention to the conclusion that a child is not being one hundred percent veracious.

This one was a response to that thought, that day. I don’t know what triggered it. At that time there were so many ideas flying around – it’s hard to pinpoint precisely what led to each and every one of them. But I like it. I like him. If he’s a downright fibber, at least he’s a happy downright fibber!

And now for something completely different.

This comes from the inspired list. I saw it in my mind, and set about drawing it. It’s rough. It’s early work, for sure, but I think the concept is sound. It should be evident that it’s a submarine. They’re in uniform, they’re evidently very active. There are two – count ‘em, two – flashing red lights in the frame – that’s got to tell you something. There’s pressure here. Tension. Heat. Are they under fire? Are they getting ready for an attack? Certainly, everyone’s busy at their work. And even as this is the case, the Captain – the one with the hat – is suffering a moment of reflection.

I like it. It rings true, somehow. I’ve often wondered what people think about when they’re under pressure – even highly-trained, important people like nuclear submarine commanders. He’s cute – vaguely effeminate. He seems a little out of place.

Next, music. Music has always been a part of my life. I am not a musician – by any means – but because of my schooling and my upbringing and my mother’s status as a permanent, card-carrying operatic Diva, I do have an appreciation for music and musicians. So it should come as no surprise that I’ve drawn a number of cartoons in recognition and celebration of the role of music in our lives.

Whether you read music, or write it, or just listen to it, you have been affected – perhaps even profoundly – by the presence of music in your life. At the mall, in the car, in the supermarket, in the shower, in the concert hall – or perhaps only while watching a movie – your life is in tune, whether you know it or not, with the rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic outpourings of the few selected by the cosmos to harbour such talents.

I love music. My tastes are eclectic – I connect with my nature in all sorts of ways. As long as there’s an actual melody, and some kind of attempt at structure, I’m fine with it. I respect the abilities of the creatives of the world.

Remember the barbershop quartet of way back when? I saw those guys just as clearly as I saw these. But while they were colourful, singing about a young lady, these fellows are resplendent in their black cassocks whilst singing their own particular praises. They really look like they’re in tune, don’t they? I didn’t need to draw the church, or the concert hall, behind them – I think you can see it anyway. The way they emerge from the blackness, I think, evokes a real sense of reverence and awe. Do you see it that way, too?

We’ll see some more musicians a bit later. Stay tuned.