Archive for January, 2014
This will be a Comic Strip Blog. I am working on my first piece “THE BLOG FROM THE BOG”. While that is in production, please enjoy these pieces that I wrote last year.
DeeDee Andrews on the Development of a Comic Strip Family
This piece first appeared on TheStoryReadingApeBlog.com on December, 11, 2013.
If you live in the U.S., you are aware of the rich history we have of newspaper comic strips. It is always my first stop whenever I open the newspaper. In fact, I could never understand why they didn’t just – “cut to the chase” and print the comics on the front page. I was well into my thirties when I learned, to my great surprise, that not everyone reads the comics first. Time spent in Europe has taught me that newspaper comic pages are not common in other countries. They don’t know what they’re missing!
I believe that the 1980s was the best time for American funny pages. I feel that there was the largest number of very talented people creating fabulous comics during that period. That’s when I started wanting to be an American cartoonist! Alas, I was lacking the talent, life experiences and ability to be funny in only three frames, or just one frame as in the case of The Far Side. Gary Larson created The Far Side right out of high-school, because he hated his job at a video store. Gary Larson was a natural born observer with a brilliant comedic mind, and I needed decades to develop. Even today, now that I have a developed comic family, I can’t keep up the pace that is required of the newspaper cartoonist.
As newspapers decline and the Internet takes over, the outlets for the strip cartoonist have been diminished as well. It saddens me deeply to see that the newspapers are now repeating old strips, with very few new strips appearing on the page.
After decades of creating little scribbles, one day, I suddenly had my “eureka” moment, and I started drawing The Domino Park Comics. Domino Park Comics are about the creatures that live in a city park. These strips started flowing out of me, and I’m not sure where they came from. I worked like an obsessed crazy women on creating this thing. Then, a few weeks later, I would look down at my art boards and ask, “Where did that come from? I did that? No way!”
I developed my comic strip eight years ago, while I was homeschooling my twin boys. I designed it to be in book form, rather than a newspaper strip, but you can see where my inspiration came from. I write comic books that look more like the funny pages, and not like traditional comic books. The first book was written with fourth grade boys in mind, because that’s where my head was at the time. Don’t let that discourage you, because my comic strips are fun for all ages. Book One Bound Together by Beetles actually took two years to write and illustrate, because each character had to be designed and developed. I’m not even sure where they all came from; they just forced their way out of me and onto the art boards- yes, art boards as in the use of very “old school” pencils, pens and paint brushes. I plan to keep it that way, as I would rather have a paint brush in my left hand than a mouse in my right. I’m not opposed to computer generated comic strips, but I prefer traditional hand drawn strips. I spend enough time with the mouse as it takes a great deal of computer work to get the art from my art boards to your Kindle screen.
I sent my first book to several publishers and received rejection letters. Then, the book found its way to the closet shelf, as other responsibilities took over my life. Finally, I received a Kindle Fire as a Christmas gift. It actually took a whole year for me to realize that my book was perfect for the Kindle. It even fits the Kindle screen like it was designed for it in the first place.
Book Two was written this year. It’s a little different, as I no longer feel the need to be the constant teacher. I felt free to just have fun. It was a grand adventure to create. I finally had an excuse to ignore the cooking and cleaning, for months and just indulge in my little friends, much to my family’s dismay.
I have so much more to develop in Domino Park. The cast of characters I can develop for a city park is endless. I want to do more with squirrels; you will only find one squirrel in my books because I’m not yet happy with his design. Bats are mentioned, but I have not yet designed them. I am also really looking forward to working on frogs. I don’t yet know what Pigeon Bridge looks like, as it has only been seen from the top. But look closely at the picture of Pigeon Bridge as the herons fly over It and you will see a self- portrait of me with my husband. People, although not really necessary to my stories, need to be fully designed. The people that appear are the people I love. My twins are playing dominoes. My parents are walking in the Japanese garden, although my father is not thrilled that I showed the bald spot on the back of his head. My daughter is shown with her dog, Pinto Bean.
One of my favorite characters is the dead tadpole with his little X’s for eyes. Aren’t comics great? X’s mean that something is dead. Even though he’s dead, I think he does a great job of playing a supporting role. It is great to draw something that makes you giggle while you are doing it!
My children are a constant inspiration, but the stories come from my own life as well. The chapter Listen to the Stars is about me. I am the baby raccoon who thinks it can hear the stars twinkling. That’s me! I can hear the stars!
Facebook: Domino Park Comics
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7057458.DeeDee_Andrews
Twitter: DeeDee Andrews@DominoParkComic
This piece first appeared on Goodreads.com, May 31, 2013
When I was a little girl, I had the same dream over and over again. I dreamt that the big trees in front of our house were cherry trees, and I could climb up into their branches and eat my fill of cherries. Bing cherries have always been expensive and I guess I never got enough of them, which explains the dream.
Be careful about dreaming, because my dream came true. For the past 22 years I have had the tree of my dreams. It was about 35 years old when I bought the house. It sits 5 feet from my back door, and it is huge (The trunk is 8 feet around) and it produces a vast amount of cherries.
They are sweet cherries and taste like Bing cherries. Oh, I do love the cherries. But, I have a love/hate relationship with the tree.
First it blooms and attracts swarms of bees. The bees don’t really bother us, as they are so busy with the blossoms. But then the blossoms drop their leaves and those little white leaves actually blow into drifts against my back door. There they sit ready to be tracked into the house.
Then comes the crunchy phase; that’s the phase we’re in right now. All of the blossoms that didn’t get pollinated fall to the ground, and they too drift against my back door.
The cherries will be ripe by the Fourth of July. The tree will be full of squirrels, and I swear they target us with their cherry pits.
The falling fruit is the biggest mess of all. I can’t even explain how bad that gets. Just think about 10,000 over-ripe cherries being smashed in the ground, by your back door. We can sweep and hose off the deck and sidewalk, but we have to crawl around and pick their rotting little corpses out of the grass.
I sit under it every day of the year, when I take the dog out. Its vast size attracts so many birds and squirrels, to my great delight. It shades the back of the house. I have nursed it through several bad seasons and cut off many dead branches.
I’ve watched huge branches fall in bad storms, and crash into my deck, house or garage. A few years ago I paid a tree trimmer $800, to cut it to half its height, because it looked like high winds were about to rip it in half. It has cost me untold hours of vacuuming and scrubbing. Yet, I still love that tree.
Now, I sit here picking some crunchy dead cherry blossoms out of my hair and I hope for a poor cherry season. I hope that the late snow storm killed the blossoms before the bees had much of a chance. I hope that I will have to buy my cherries this year.
This piece first appeared on Goodreads.com, April 30, 2013.
It’s illegal these days to raise a Crow, even if you find one with a broken wing. These days you have to call someone to take it away. or let it die, according to the federal laws protecting migratory birds. But this was the 70s and life was far less regulated. Also, there was nobody to call. The choices then were nurse it back to health yourself, or let it die.
When we found the baby crow, with the broken wing, Dad called the closest zoo. Armed with a list of instructions, my sisters and I dove into our rolls as angels of mercy for a scared little crow. That summer I was about 9 and my sisters were 11 and 6.
I’m pretty sure Mom and Dad set the wing and taped it tight to his body, because I don’t remember how that was accomplished. Then we got to force feed the little guy soaked, mushy Dog Chow. We had to hold him tight, pry his beak open, shove the food to the back of his throat and rub his neck to get it to go down. Luckily, crows are really smart, and he figured out that resistance was futile and he better just eat the food. Within a couple of weeks he was putting all of the dog’s food in the dog’s water dish and eating as much as he wanted.
Dad came up with the name Saidrick Rackadew. I’m not sure where that name came from, but I still really like it. So, off I went tromping through the forests with my best friend, Saidrick, on my shoulder and poop on my back. After a while you just get used to having poop on your back every day. My prissy older sister had a low tolerance for the poop, and my little sister’s shoulder was too small, so I usually had Saidrick on my shoulder. I still think a little poop on your back is a small price to pay for the joy of having a friendly crow on your shoulder.
Above us in the trees his parents followed our every move and called to him day after day.
We made an attempt to teach Saidrick to be a Crow. We took him out and stirred up the grasshoppers in the fields for him to chase and devour with glee.
When the bandages came off, we had to exercise the wing. This meant sitting the bird on the end of a broom handle and raising it up and down, which made him flap his wings. Eventually, he gave into the urging of his parents and took off, flying up to join them in the trees. At that point it was their turn to teach him to be a crow. Once Saidrick was in the trees, he never came down to us again. That was a little hard because it came without warning. One day he was sitting on my shoulder, and the next day he was gone.
Saidrick and his parents stayed close by, until it was time to migrate south. I’m pretty sure he came back the following summer and called to us from the trees. The summer after that we had to move away and I never heard his voice again.
So why do I write about ravens in the “Domino Park Comics” instead of crows? Because, where I live now we have lots of ravens and no crows, so I watch ravens every day. I appreciate their existence and pay more attention to them than most people, because a long time ago when I was a tomboy I had a pet crow named Saidrick.