Carrying on

So you’ve had the official reckoning – the A-to-Z of KerDoodle creation. But the thing of it is, there was a lot more. There were so many drawings done, which could never make it into the official story, but which nevertheless had a certain something of their own.

So let’s do it this way: let’s pick a pic or two, just randomly, and take a look at what we see – you know, on its own merits. Now that you know the history, I think you’ll have a better appreciation of what you’re looking at for each rendering. A word to the wise, however: in order to understand this you’re going to want to make sure that you’ve read the entire blog. This is not me being self-serving. This is me wanting you to have the best experience you can of my little productions. So, if you’ve already taken the tour, well, you’re golden. If not, click here, and begin. You might even thank me later.

Where to begin? How about here, with the big bang. I like to poke fun at conventions in my work, and this offering was no exception. It occurred to me one day, while I was buying popcorn at Costco. My mind, somehow in an altered state even as I did my shopping, managed to find its way right down into the depths with an ‘analysis’ of where life began.

Here we see an alien of some kind suffering from the effects of a popcorn binge gone mad. There’s noise, and mess, and this is pretty much what I picture when I hear scientists talk about the beginning of the universe. High temperatures, violent winds, debris everywhere. Basically, everything out of control at an atomic level.

Of course, this interpretation of the cataclysmic event which caused us presupposes a few things. First, the existence of aliens – whether human or not, this guy is really at the heart of things. It also presupposes the existence of popcorn, and I don’t need to point out the flaws in that argument. Finally, it would seem that electricity has been harnessed by this pre-existence civilization. Can anyone see the difficulties here? It is, of course, a contradiction in terms. All I can say in my defence is that this is what I saw, and there ain’t thing one can be done about that.

This one was also inspired. At the time, during Covid, there was a lot of talk about conspiracies, and a lot of people were behaving very strangely. So I sat, and wondered, and mulled, and thought, and ruminated even more than that, and I figured out after a while that there was only one explanation possible. Clearly, I thought, some external influence was whispering in the ears of these distracted people. And of course, being who I am, I decided it must be an alien.

So here is this fellow, having landed his little spaceship in the middle of the street, whispering some unsavoury “truth” or other in the ear of one of the local residents. Of course we all know what happens with unsavoury truths, don’t we? They spread like wildfire. There’s excitement in the air, as he whispers his little tale, and I can’t help but wonder if from his input the world is not about to change.

What do you suppose he’s whispering?

Finally, for today, I should point out that during all the recent political mayhem, it has occurred to me that some of the judicial decisions coming down in a certain country which shall remain nameless have been, let’s just say, a little strange. While I don’t think I need to provide you with examples, I did look for explanations, and this is what I came up with:

Here we see the Supreme Court. Now, I’m not going out of my way to pick on one country. This gaggle of goofballs could represent any country in the world. The main idea is that appearances can be deceptive. Here, the justices all appear normal, except perhaps for one. To put it another way, ‘one of these things is not like the others’. So, which one do you suppose I’m talking about?

I was quite pleased with this when I drew it. It is exactly as I envisioned it, and there are elements within it which I think in some cultures might qualify as humorous. It’s fundamentally realistic too, if you disregard the purple KerDoodles and the alien. Or, is that what actually makes it more realistic?

I’ll leave that for you to decide.

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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.

There be Monsters

In the spirit of evolution my mind naturally turned toward monsters. Don’t ask. There was a brush with the monster idiom early on – an offering that embarrasses me to this day involving a cardboard box type thing with eyes, hiding under the bed. After that attempt I was happy enough to acknowledge my weaknesses and stick to learning how to draw KerDoodles.

But by 2021 I figured I’d come far enough to touch on the idea again. After all, they’re everywhere aren’t they? They are an endemic part of our culture – of every culture. They are the bi to the polar. They are the yin to the yang. And as an important part of our understanding they really needed to be included in The Village landscape. I like to think of the Village occupants as pretty nice guys – as sweet and light and loving, but even they need their monsters to keep things in perspective. That said, these monsters probably won’t frighten you very much.

This was the first monster, and what could be more threatening than a monster liking your hair? It’s a personal space thing. Notice something? The likee is one of my human representations. But don’t worry, all is well. Our KerDoodle heritage is teased out by an über-amused Kerdoolian, smiling at the situation. Everybody looks happy enough. Even the subject of the hair-tickling seems bemused rather than offended. And isn’t that just the way it should be?

The next monster to exit the cranium was this one.

The question occurred to me: what does a monster do at home after a long, hard day of monstering? What does he do with his time off? This fellow suggests that a nice horror movie is apropos, with a wobbly pop and a bowl of popcorn. The cemetery picture on the wall was a nice touch, I thought, as was the KerDoodle night light. Tacky armchair, though. What on earth was I thinking! I guess monsters are human, too.

Next we happen on a sad scene.

A monster’s traditional job, of course, is to frighten the children, and that’s okay. As the kidoodles found out from Clive and Connie, sometimes we learn from our fear. But what happens when that child goes away? Gramma visits, school trips – sometimes the kids leave their monsters behind. Why do you think we enjoy vacations so much? Because we leave our monsters behind.

So I wonder, did anyone ever stop to think how the monster feels? I do. The kids do. And here he is. He’s not a happy camper, is he? Sure, it’s only one day, and I suppose he can survive that, but it’s hard for a monster to be away from his attachment for too long.

Of course, there’s also the other side of that coin. Sometimes we have to put the monster in its place. I mean, once in a while your monster just gets out of order. That’s when it’s critical to correct him as this little kidoodle is doing now.

Did you ever have that experience where you put something down somewhere, then when you went back for it it was gone? I think everyone has gone through that at some time or other. Some people think that’s evidence of a ghost – a perfect purloining prestidigitatory poltergeist. But I think it’s the monster. Remembering that we all have one, it’s pretty reasonable to suppose that when we’re too good, too kind, too sweet, he just might feel the need to act up a little – to shake us up.

It’s only boredom when he takes our keys from the table and hides them in the desk. It’s only pique when he spills milk, when he bunches that rug up in the corner, when he throws the dog’s toys all over the floor. It’s only an impish devotion to his nature when he leaves the fridge door open or the toilet seat up. And you can’t blame him for being true to his nature.

A few quick bursts before we head to our final monster thoughts. This fellow is clearly very well organized.

Let’s see, neatly compartmentalized he has cake, hamburgers, movies, badges, puppies, popcorn, toys, candies, money, perfumes, a mask and…. These are not tools of evil – they are tools of acknowledgment. Remembering that everyone has a monster, you can appreciate that these toys symbolize the things that attract us all. Several of the ‘deadly sins’ are represented here, so hey, this is serious stuff. But we can at least be assured that the monster has them well organized. You’re not going to be very good at nastiness if you aren’t well organized.

I watched a video of a song on the infamous tube site one day, and it gave me the idea for this one.

Monster Mash. Mashed potatoes. Get it? Sorry.

This one will have meaning if you think about King Kong.

I’m sure you’ve seen the iconic image showing the enormous gorilla scaling the side of the Empire State Building. If you haven’t, I’m sure you can look it up online. Well, here we have a KerDoodle monster standing in the street in front of a fully occupied skyscraper, looking up, and contemplating on whether or not he wants to attempt it. You can see the answer.

Of course, there’s something to consider when you think about your monster. I’ve long lived with the idea that “wherever you go, that’s where you are.” Well, it’s true for your monster, too. Wherever you go, in theory, he (or she) goes with you. Our job as KerDoodles, or as humans, is to control the monster, to give it voice without giving it control. Everybody’s monster is different – so it’s not the same issue for everyone. But whatever issue it is, the monster must be controlled.

This fellow seems to understand this. His monster has one hand on his head – oh, he’s up there – but they are still distinct entities and can remain that way as required.

Suffice it to say, KerDoodle monsters aren’t your run-of-the-mill mean and nasty fellows. They aren’t set on destruction or horrific acts. They are, rather, an indispensable part of our ego, our id, and our very selves as we function, day-to-day. KerDoodle monsters are polite, unimposing. Their aim is not to trouble, but to support. I hope you at least can find them funny, even lovable. In fact, if you do, why not take a moment to look behind you right now and say, out loud, “hello, dear Mister/Miss/Mrs monster… let’s get along, eh?”

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.

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.

The First Day of School

All these buses! At the time I was surrounded by buses, and kids, and kids, and buses. It seemed to be my every day life. Actually, it was. So I dreamed up a story, to be both drawn and written, for the benefit of children the world over.

Here it is. Settle in. Relax. Pull up your widdle banky, and enjoy…


It was the first day of school and the first kids waited patiently for the bus.

Even Richard, the ghost kidoodle, waited by his house for the bus to appear.

One by one, the summer-tired kidoodles stepped up into the bus and, as the Sun rose warmly behind them, bounced and jostled their way to a new school year.

They were quiet at first, but that wasn’t to last.

The bus was big and beautiful, and oh so ready for the new school year. Her name was Connie. And Clive, the driver was just as kind as ever. Earlier, in the yard where the bus lived, their first meeting of the year had been very special.

Oh, this was going to be a wonderful school year!

Now, Connie was a very special bus. She had all sorts of special gizmos which none of the other buses had. Let’s face it, she was a magic bus, and because of this she was full of the understanding and intuition and awareness that is reserved for only the very best of school buses.

Gradually, the kidoodles entered the bus and sat down for their first ride of the year. They were all quiet for a little while, and that was great, but soon they got used to the pitch and roll of the bus – and they started to talk to each other, and to get loud. All except little Jace, who was taking his first ever ride on the big yellow bus. Jace was one nervous little kidoodle.

It wasn’t long, of course, before all the little kidoodles forgot where they were. Clive even pulled over to to the side of the road once and watched them all in his big rear-view mirror. But they didn’t stop their yakking. They didn’t even notice they’d stopped!

Clive and Connie figured now was as good a time as any. Best to sort these things out early in the year, he thought, and as the kidoodles fooled and played and fiddled and romped and scuffled and rampaged, Clive and Connie got themselves ready. They knew how this went. With kids it always started off in fun, but sooner or later someone wound up crying, and feelings were hurt. Someone always says something, or throws something, or someone’s lunch gets spilled, the laughter turns to tears and before you know it, the kidoodles are mad at each other.

And sure enough that’s what happened. Oh, Clive tried hard to get their attention so that they’d know they were doing it wrong. But they weren’t looking, and they certainly weren’t listening.

And so they started arguing with each other, staring and glaring, and shouting and hollering and yelling. Fingers started pointing, and words were thrown, little hearts hardened and suddenly there was no more choice.

Little Jace, sitting there on his first ever bus ride, looked so scared as he watched this commotion – there was so much about life he still did not understand! But, the combatants still wouldn’t back down.

And that’s when it began. First a long, low rumble, then a sound like metal scraping on metal – a long, high squeal of steel – of emotion it would even seem – from somewhere deep within the bus.

Pascal – a third year boy – knew that sound.

“Uh-oh,” he said, looking around, and soon everyone stopped what they were doing to try to figure out what was going on.

Clive put both hands on the wheel, held his breath, and closed his eyes.

“Be gentle, Connie,” he muttered. “It’s only the first day.”

Connie rumbled and shook, she shook and she rumbled – and oh boy did she rumble! She rumbled low, then lower, then even lower yet – almost as if she was boiling inside! It’s a special time when the bus gets mad.

Clive heard Michael say, from the back of the bus, “Uh, guys, I think we’d better hold on now.” Like Pascal, he had clearly been through this before.

All the kidoodles grew quiet. Little hands gripped the edges of seats and nervousness rippled through the bus as Connie’s trembling and rumbling grew more and more intense.

“I don’t like this!” whined little Maisie, looking all around her.

“Me neither, nuh-uh,” agreed Rufus, one of the tiniest kidoodles.

“Just hold on,” said Michael – “and hold on hard!”

And he was right, for just at that moment the shaking grew stronger yet, and the bus started to move.

“This isn’t me, guys,” hollered Clive, “this is Connie, taking charge!”

A sudden surge of moaning and groaning passed amongst the passengers as the front wheels lifted slowly off the ground.

“What’s happening!?” cried Lucy. “I’m scared!”

“We’re taking off!” hollered Pedro.

“Well, it’s your fault!” replied Juan, his brother.

“Is not!”

“Is too!”

The front of the bus lurched suddenly forward and up, and a high metallic shriek grew from under the hood.

“We’re floating!” hollered Emily.

“We’re flying!” bellowed Leah.

And flying they were. Up and up, into the sky, toward the high, thin clouds of early morning. They gathered speed, grew faster and faster, and when the kidoodles finally found the strength to look outside they saw that everything below had gotten so very, very small! The houses, the cars, the people, had all fallen away to little dots on the ground, and it wasn’t long before they were completely left behind.

And that’s when the kidoodles started to realize what was going on.

As the temperature in the bus rose, Clive knew what was what. Connie the bus didn’t like it when the kidoodles argued, and darn it, sometimes there were lessons to learn and no one but Connie could teach them.

“You’re ready for this, are you, Connie?” he asked the big bus. She responded with a low, satisfied growl, and Clive knew she was.

So he and the kidoodles all pressed back in their seats as the bus roared skyward. They were all looking outside now. Most were scared, but a few of the older kidoodles looked like they might even be having fun!

“Bus driver, did my mom put you up to this?” hollered Clarissa from her assigned seat, holding on to her little teddy bear. She had a wry grin on her face.

“It’s got nothing to do with me, sweetheart!” cried Clive, lifting his hands off the now useless steering wheel. “This is all Connie.”

“Why’s she doing this then?” queried Michael. He did not sound amused.

“I think, if you look very honestly at yourselves,” said Clive, “you’ll figure out exactly why this is happening.”

“I think I know,” said Nathan, who liked to think he knew everything. “Hey, I can see my house!”

“The sky up here is really dark!” cried Jessica, excitedly looking out.

“It sure is,” agreed Gabby. “And it’s getting darker,” and a chorus of kidoodles agreed that they had noticed this too.

“It’s very pretty,” said little Lexie.

“We’re pretty high up,” added Jace, now looking around.

“Hey, there’s an airplane!” hollered Sophia, pointing,

All the kidoodles craned their necks up to try to see.

“I don’t see one,” grumped Marcos, but he was looking up, and Sophia was pointing the other way.

“It’s down there – behind us,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“It’s really getting dark now!” said Ryleigh.

“I’m floating!” yelped Emily!

“Hey, I’m floating too!” cried Leah.

“And me!”

“And me!”

“We’re all floating now!”

As they all started lifting gently off their seats and floating into the air, all their little voices rose up too, and still Connie the magic bus just flew and flew and flew. Way up high, she flew, through and past the earthbound blue, into the wider reach of space – the silent reach of space, for just at that moment Connie’s engine cut out and as all the little kidoodles floated toward the roof of the bus, everything suddenly turned quiet.

“I’ve never been up this high before,” said Anna, in the big, quiet bus. “I’m afraid.” She was upside-down, clinging to her seat with all the strength in her little fingers, the rest of her floating up into the air.

“Me too,” said Pedro, gripping the back of his seat and kneeling down, looking out of the window.”

Look at the stars!” breathed Anthony. “So beautiful.”

“Look at the Earth!” cried Chelvy, and everyone did, pasting their little faces to the windows to look at the Earth, far, far below.

“Wow, it’s big,” said Miguel, slack-jawed.

“I can see my house!” someone hollered.

“You can not,” cried someone else.

Everyone went quiet, and they stayed quiet for several minutes, in absolute awe of the beauty and enormity of space. Then, suddenly, the silence was broken. It was Pedro.

“Hey! Quit stepping on me!”

“Get your stupid foot out of my way!” yelled his twin brother Juan.

“I’ll put my foot wherever I want to!”

“Oh yah?”

Yah!”

And just like that, the glorious majesty, the great serenity of the enormous sphere beneath them, the perfect wonder of the planet, Earth, was forgotten.

“Boys, boys, try to get along now,” said Clive. “Have you forgotten where we are?”

“I don’t care! He does this all the time! He’s always putting his big, fat foot where mine is, and using my stuff, and jumping line for the bathroom, and taking my potato and…”

“I never take your potato – I take my potato. And ask mom – it’s not your potato, it’s our potato! Ours! And I don’t care where we are, that will always be true!”

“Boys, boys, boys…” Clive tried again to interject. Ordinarily, on the ground, he would park the bus for this kind of thing, get out of his seat, and mediate. But here in space, where could he park?

“Sometimes he makes me sooooo mad!” seethed Pedro.

“Well, I don’t like him, and I wish he wasn’t my brother any more!” Juan folded his little arms angrily across his chest.

“Oh yah?”

Yah!

There was a brief moment of silence, but then Connie the bus grumbled once again back to life. A deep, rumbling, angry roar grew from her very belly and in a moment she lurched forward and was moving again.

“Uh-oh.” said Pascal, turning to try to sit in his seat. “Now you’ve gone and done it.”

Clive reached above his head, then, and flipped the switch – the one installed way up high by the roof. The red switch. The small red switch with the red covering on it and the large white letters around it. The special switch that no one knew about but him. And Connie.

Nothing happened right away. But both bus and driver knew it would, and judging from the kidoodles’ behaviour behind him, they knew too that something was going to happen.

It was just a matter of time.


Meanwhile, back at the school, just as the Sun started rising behind her, Vice Principal Señora C was checking her watch.

All the other kidoodles were already in class, but where was Bus 293?


The bus lurched forward and started soaring again, sweeping left and swooping right. All the little kidoodles did what they could to hold on, but it was difficult.

One by one they reached out their hands to hold on to each other. One by one they held fast and would not let go, so that soon all the kidoodles were holding hands. All except for little Juan and Pedro, who were still frowningly scowling at each other.

“Take his hand, Pedro!” hollered Pascal.

“No!” cried the little boy.

“Juan, grab hold!” ordered Alyx, one of the smallest but fiercest of the bus’s passengers.

“I don’t want to!”

“You have to!” they all shouted. “Now!”

But the brothers were so mad at each other that they just wouldn’t – couldn’t – hold hands, even if it put themselves and all their little friends in danger.

Meanwhile, Connie just kept getting more and more upset. She swooped left, then right. She soared up, and dove down. She lurched, heaved, groaned, grumbled, grumped and skidded sweepingly both left and right, high in the big, beautiful black of space, but still the brothers would not hold hands.

Suddenly, the front door opened, and Clive flipped the OXYGEN switch on his panel.

“Argh!” cried Pedro. “I’m being sucked toward the door!”

“Hold my hand, Pedro! Quick!” cried Pascal.

“I can’t!”

He was indeed being sucked away from the group and toward the front door. He tried to grab each seat as he passed, but he couldn’t get a grip, and in only moments he was passing his brother, looking into his eyes as the vacuum of space was starting to take hold.

‘Help me, Juan!” he begged. “Please!

Juan held firm to the nearest seat. He looked at Pedro. He was still mad at him, but with that look in his eyes something triggered inside him, and he realized that even though he was angry he actually kind of liked having a brother. In a flash he recalled all the times they’d just sat and talked, finished each others’ sentences and laughed about it. Then he remembered all the times that Pedro had stood up for him in the playground, or steadied him while they were riding their bikes, and from there it was the work of only a moment for him to decide that yes, absolutely, he needed to do something to save his little brother.

“I’m not your little brother!” cried Pedro, who, it would seem, had somehow heard his brother’s thoughts.

“Yes, you are, I was born ten minutes before you, so…”

“Okay, okay, fine. But help me!”

Just then Pedro’s grip on the last seat loosened.

“Help me, please!” he hollered. He was scared now, and the wide-open door was looking really, really big, and just as Pedro slipped toward that door, Juan sprang into action. He dove headlong toward the first row of seats, past the bus driver’s outstretched hand, and grabbed hold of the handrail. Then he lunged toward his brother and reached out. The force of the vacuum of space tried to take them both, but he held tight to the hand rail and would not let his brother go. Never again would he let his brother go.

Auggghh!” cried Pedro. He was scared – very scared – but he felt okay now because he had his brother’s hand in his and somehow he knew he was going to be alright. As mad as he had been, he knew in his heart that he could rely on him, no matter what.

Just then, Juan felt other hands behind him. Daisy was holding him from behind, wrapping her arms around his waist so he could let go of the hand rail and use both of his hands to grab hold of Pedro. Somehow Juan knew that his friends were keeping him safe, so he held fast to Pedro and slowly pulled his brother back into the bus.

They slipped back inside, and just as they cleared the doorway, the doors magically snapped shut and the tired little kidoodles floated back up safely inside.

Juan and Pedro hugged each other and cried.

“I’m sorry, Pedro, I shouldn’t have been so mean.”

“Well, I’m sorrier,” blubbed Pedro. “You can put your foot wherever you like.”

“And you can have my potato any time!”

All their little kidoodle friends were smiling at this wonderful development, and as Connie the bus settled back down again and stopped rumbling and grumbling and soaring all over the place, Clive the driver somehow managed to conceal a little smile as he flipped the red overhead ADVENTURE TIME switch to OFF.

He looked down toward the earth and took the wheel.

Yup, he thought. It’s time to get these little kidoodles to school.

All calm now, the kidoodles floated about, talking quietly to each other about what they’d just been through. At the same time they took the opportunity to look outside – at space, at the moon, and at the Earth.

Maisy saw Clive the driver lean forward and talk to the dashboard for a moment before putting both hands firmly on the wheel. Then she and all the kidoodles relaxed as the bus rolled slowly and gently to the left. She looked out the window as the earth rose up toward them.

“Wow,” said Michael from the back of the bus.

“That’s awesome!” agreed Maisy.

“That one’s Africa,” said Leah, pointing. “And there’s Spain!” Leah was good at geography.

“And look over there!” added Pedro, with a giggle. “We’re not alone!

They all looked outside as a little space craft floated by. All the little kidoodles watched in awe as the craft hove into view and four startled space KerDoodles stared back at them.

“Their school bus is a very strange shape,” said Gabby with a giggle, and they all watched as it slid slowly away behind them.

Just then Clive’s radio crackled to life. He picked up the mike and exchanged a few words with the dispatcher.

“Ok kids,” he said, “it’s time to head to school. We’re the last ones to arrive. Now, everybody hold on!”

Connie the bus picked up speed as she rolled further left and pointed herself back toward home. It became quite loud inside, and there was a faint red glow around them as they headed back down to the big blue planet, to their country, their neighbourhood, and their school. The deep, deep black of space turned gradually blue again, first dark, then really, really bright. Most of the kidoodles covered their eyes when it was at its brightest, but then in only a few moments they were surrounded by a grey-white mist of clouds which made the windows wet. Then suddenly they saw they were pointed at the very same road from which they had taken off.

The ground rose up toward them, but no one was scared. Connie raised her nose to the sky and seemed to be feeling around with her hind end for the ground. All the kidoodles watched their progress through the windows. Then at last there was a bump, a clunk, a bump-a-clunk-a-lunk, and a whine of spinning tires as Connie resumed her regular road-bound duties.

“There’s the school!” hollered Pascal.

“There’s Señora C!” added Daisy as the bus slowed to its regular crawl.

After a minute Connie pulled up to the school and Clive flipped the switch to open the doors.

“Ok kids, have a great day. I hope you learned something this morning.”

“Sure did,” said Juan as he turned to go down the stairs. “I learned to always share my potato.”

Señora C was greeting the kidoodles as they got off the bus.

“Good morning, children. You’re a little late. Is everything okay?”

“Sure is, Señora,” said Daisy. “We had an adventure!”

“Oh?” she said. “What kind of adventure?” She looked over toward Clive. Clive rolled his eyes.

“Oh, you know…” he said. “Traffic.”

A couple of kidoodles giggled, and went into the school

One by one the kidoodles left the bus. Señora C checked off her clipboard then waved at Clive. He got up and checked all the seats for sleepers – as if anyone could have slept through this morning’s adventure! – then sat down in his seat and sighed.

“That was fun, Connie,” he said with a smile. “I never get tired of that.”

And Connie, with a delightful, self satisfied harrumph, revved her happy motor before Clive took the wheel and guided them both back to the yard.

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?

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.