I Can’t Draw.

When people learn that I write books (you know, for kids) they almost always ask this question:

“Oh, so do you do all the drawings, too?”

When I tell them I couldn’t draw to save my life they end up looking a little disappointed.

Trust me, nobody is as disappointed as I am.

The thing is: My kids LOVE to draw.  Travis loves to draw Garfield, zombies, skeletons, and all kinds of abominations.  (this includes Garfield).  Jake draws little micro-sized pictures of pretty much everything.

Me: Jake, what’s this?  (I point to a tiny scribble on a PostIt Note)

Jake: It’s a light and a guy.

Me: Yes.

Anyway, tonight, we decided we were going to go without vids (video games) or TV tonight.  We would do something fun and (hopefully) creative.  As we were picking up Legos in Travis’ room, I had an idea.

“We should totally break out some pens and paper and make a comic strip or something,” I suggested.

“Yes,” Travis shouted.  “Awesome!”

“Who should we use as a character?” I asked.

“Garfield,” was Travis’s quick reply.

Now, I’m not going to lie.  I haven’t found Garfield funny since I was like…8.  Lasagna, naps.  We get it, cat.  We get it.

Since I didn’t want Jon Davis coming after me for desecrating his beloved dog-abusing fat-cat, I suggested we go a different route.

“What if we make up our own characters,” I said.  “We could use our imagination and come up with different guys to use.”

“Like who?”  Travis asked.

I hadn’t thought that far (naturally) and just blurted out: “How about Filthy the Skunk?”

“That’s horrible,” Travis said.

Suddenly, I had ideas for all sorts of characters.  We quickly retreated to the basement, broke out a bunch of UniBall Vision pens (best. pens. ever.) and some paper and got to work.  Travis set off to draw Garfield and Odie and I tried drawing a skunk.  It was horrible.  It ended up looking like a punk-rock rat-faced thing that I quickly scribbled out.  This wasn’t off to a good start.  As Jake began his micro-sized art pieces, I drew this little guy.

I mean, how hard could a pig be, right?  Started off with the snout, drew in some ears that looks a little more cat-like than I would’ve liked, added some dirt and scuff  from rooting around in filth and slop buckets.

The rest? Well, I don’t know what happened.

He looks like he got caught with his pants down.

It would appear that instead of hooves, he’s wearing some slippers.

His tail looks like it’s coming out of his side.

I don’t think pigs have nipples where people do.  Do they?  No.  I didn’t think so.

But this was the best I could do under the gun.  I figured I’d just draw a handful of little sketches and see if any of them stuck.  I’m not sure I like ol’ Paul all that much.  I mean, really, what kind of adventures is a filthy little pig going to go on?

Maybe he could fight the other pigs for control over the pail of slop?

Or he could befriend a spider and…never mind.

I think Paul is/was a lost cause.

After that, I decided I wanted something a little catchier and maybe more story-driven.  So, I drew a square and in no time, this little guy emerged.

I’m not convinced that it looks like he’s wearing a bunch of cardboard boxes.

At first sight, my kids were convinced he was a robot.

So, I ended up giving him a name so that you HAD to see the awful shapes on him as boxes.

Plus…Zach in the box.  Get it?  Get it?  Yeah, no one else was all that impressed with the idea, either.

But, as far as characters go, I though he was miles away from Paul the Pig or my failed attempt at Filthy the Skunk.

I mean, he could be a little kid who wants to be a superhero and just uses old boxes as battle armor.

People who’ve known me a long time will probably see this as a recycled version of a character from one of my old short stories.  Yes, yes.  I know.  He looks an awful lot like Cardboard Lad.

I think it’s safe to plagiarize myself, isn’t it?

The problem is, like most things I draw, I couldn’t leave it well enough alone.  I ended up trying to make it look more box-y and added the head flaps.

They totally don’t work.

Also, I suck at drawing hands.

Ah, well.  By this time, Travis was asking me how to spell GARFIELD and Jake was drawing a “spaceship rocket.”

Next up was this guy:

Okay, so who couldn’t love a sandwich as a character?

Don’t ask me what kind of sandwich Phil is.  I have no idea.

There might be some lettuce on him.

And an olive with a toothpick through it.  Don’t think I failed to see how dumb that is.

Usually those toothpicks are there to hold a sandwich together.  This one isn’t doing anything and I totally botched the olive.

Also: are those marshmallows there above his mouth?

After seeing my (to them) dumb drawings, Travis demanded justice.  “You should draw a cat,” he said.  He showed me his Garfield and I thought maybe I should start taking requests.  I mean, I just drew an animated sandwich with no hope for comic strip fame, for cryin’ out loud.  So, here’s a cat:

Let’s just get it out of the way:  Nuggets didn’t turn out so hot.

He’s licking his chops while standing in a loaded litter box.


Also, he’s holding a remote control.  You know, so he can change the channel while he’s taking care of business.

It’s hard to make fur look like fur.  Instead, Nuggets looks like he’s been rolling around with the Tootsie Rolls in his crap box.

I should point out that Nuggs is wearing the smallest pair of shorts known to man.

Do you sense that I don’t like to (or can’t) draw eyes?

I can’t.

I think Nuggets will forever stay in his litter box.  He just isn’t doing any thing for me.

Did I mention my kid’s obsession with skeletons and zombies?  It’s weird.  I don’t know where they got it from.  I’m guessing it’s from my wife, Laura.  She loves that crap.  So, in order to keep their interest, I decided I better break out the undead and with a quickness.

Yeah.  I totally screwed Saul up.

First of all, his head looks more like a light bulb than a skull.

The crack isn’t right, either.

Plus, instead of going with the traditional big ol’ eye sockets, I blew it and did my stand-by small ovals.

And I really should’ve named him Stumpy.  You know, since I forgot one of the bones in each of his arms.

I have to admit I do kind of dig his fingers.  Kind of.

But, overall I sort of think Saul stinks.

Jake saw him and decided that he was going to draw a skeleton, too.  After seeing his tiny, tiny little scribbles on the 84th PostIt Note he pulled out, I have to concede that his turned out much, much better.

I think it was at this point in the mad sketch-a-thon that I was running out of ideas and quickly losing the interest of my kids.  Laura was drawing Disney Characters and I had one last idea I needed to get out.  I wish I could say it was worth the wait and a true winner, but…


It wasn’t.  My last sketch of the night was the following:

Okay.  So, as soon as I started drawing the lid, I was thinking: This is going to totally seem like an Oscar the Grouch rip-off.

So, I decided that I wouldn’t put someone IN the can.  THE CAN would be the character!  Brilliant!

Eh…not so much.

His mouth is totally jacked.  At first he was doing a surprised face, but I changed my mind.

And ruined it.

I do like the flies and the dumpster juice around him.  Also, the stink lines.

So, that was it.  After ol’ Stinky the Can came out, we’d reach maximum drawing capacity.  I somehow don’t think any of the little guys I drew will make it into the Sunday Comics, but I’m okay with that.  I couldn’t imagine coming up with stuff like that day after day and actually drawing the dumb characters in different poses.

I think I’ll stick with the writing and let the more talented folks draw up the pictures, yo.