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!
To get more details of DeeDee’s books click on their covers below:
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