Saturday, March 26, 2011

Character Design

Hi there friends.

For years now, at bedtime and in between picture books and chapter books, I have been telling the girls stories about a pair of mice that follow and protect a little family through its many journeys. The first mouse I made up in the space of a moment never expecting to tell more than one tale about him. I say “made up” though he is really a shameless rip-off of a well-known mouse from beyond the wardrobe -right down to the name: Cheepa-cheep (really, I think you’re allowed to plagiarize in the privacy of your home when you just want a three-year-old to please, please, please fall to sleep). He wears a sword at his side and a feather in his ear. He loves adventure, but is a bit more of a rapscallion than his Narnian cousin. Cheepa-cheep soon acquired a companion in the form of a small, bespectacled mouse named Chirpa-chirp, who carries a nearly bottomless sack of books wherever he goes. Sort of the literary rodent’s version of wikepedia. They ride on geese, have frequent trouble with gnomes, and more often than not their adventures are about saving the little family from unsuspected dangers.

I’ve never drawn a picture of them. But the other day I found these (drawn by Angelica):

This was thrilling to me because
I’ve never been on this side of the fence before. I’ve never had the experience of describing a character or idea and having someone else draw it. I’ve given that experience to others but never thought of what it would be like for them. I love the little details that weren’t mine -the sandals, the pouches on Cheepa-cheep’s belt. And of course the feather, which I had imagined as small but works so well as a battle standard.

NEXT WEEK: I will finally get down to posting my upcoming travels, signings and comics workshops. New York is on the horizon...


C Jeske said...

What a talented child! I'm amazed at how she is able to give a sense of movement to the characters as well as her attention to the little details which distinguish the two mice from each other.!

But, is that a goose or a chicken? lol. This is your daughter with the penchant for drawing chickens, right?

And how cool is it that your kids get their very own fairy tales, made up just for them! You're doing wonderful things for their imaginations. No wonder your wild little pack of girls are an amazing little bunch!

Matthew Bowman said...


And of course, now I want to know more about Cheepa-cheep and Chirpa-chirp. :)

Fr Matthew Green said...

She's got talent, for sure! Of course, it's not too big a surprise, given the talent of her father.

Reepicheep was always one of my favorite characters in the Narnia books, if not my absolute favorite, when I was a kid.

So, when can we expect a "Cheepa-cheep the Defender" graphic novel?

barbara said...

Wow, thee drawings kill me, expecially the first one. They are so lively.

Red Herring Jeff said...

I love seeing your daughters drawings, Ben! Thanks for sharing! Family storytime is just the best, but I imagine it's even better seeing the evidence that the time you spend with the girls has a real impact on their interior landscape.

Christina said...

I love 'em! I had a friend of mine volunteer to write an actual musical score for a movie I made, and I think it must be a similar feeling. To have someone interpret what you've made up in a way you never thought of before is so cool!