Friday, December 25, 2009


This is about as late in the game as anything you'll ever see on this site, since, as a rule, teen-agers' art is as painful to look at as childrens' art is great. It's next to impossible to avoid a bad five years or so before you get your mojo back... and of course, for lots of folks, it never does come back. For boys, it's usually an ill-fitting obsession with the rendering of chrome, or abdominal muscles, or the particular curve of the spoiler on a 280-Z. For girls, it all turns into stiff horses with flowing manes and giant-headed doe-eyed girly men. Nowadays, the ubiquitous manga influence* lets clueless teens combine both these benighted aesthetics into a unified horror embraced by both sexes.
    My work here is a late-to-the-party example of the duck craze seen in comics fanzine art in the late '70s, inspired of course by the popularity of Howard the Duck. I had certainly read and admired Howard by this point (not following it as it came out--I was a bit young for that-- but buying them from quarter boxes, from which they were then readily available). I'm not sure if I'd seen any of the fanzine stuff yet, since at this point I was only reading current issues of The Comics Journal and its less intellectually challenging little sibling, Amazing Heroes. I believe that this may have had its origins as a possible candidate for the latter magazine's regular "silly cover" feature, though I'm certain that I never actually submitted a black-and-white version for consideration. I do recall another attempt to create a submission featuring "Nick Furry, Agent of S.H.E.E.P.", based on this cover, but, again, I never submitted it and it's presumed lost.
   The "Rudolph, the Radioactive Reindeer" character may have been conceived of prior to this piece; I definitely did a good number of drawings of him, as well as his springtime counterpart, the "Easter Beast". At some point after this, I renamed him"Randolph", since I'd decided that he was in fact a separate character. and not literally Robert L. May's beloved creation. I don't think I ever really tried to compose any stories featuring him, content to only draw "cool" action shots. Which brings us right back to paragraph one. Mea culpa!

*Before someone chimes in here, let me note that this is not a critique of manga, per se, so much as an observation that certain surface elements of popular manga styles intersect horribly well with seemingly-inborn teen badness. It's just a very effective template upon which a kid may construct doo-doo. Not that we don't have plenty of equally effective building blocks right here in the good old U.S. of A.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Radioactive reindeer? That's awesome! I wouldn't mind seeing more of your teenage works...