Chicken Karma

Chicken Karma

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Evolution of a Comic Strip Character

The Evolution of a Comic Strip Character

DOUG the Wombat

FULL NAME: Doug Burrows
AGE: Unknown
INTERESTS: Sleeping, Eating, Drinking Coffee
SKILLS: Sleeping, Eating, Drinking Coffee

GOALS: Sleeping more, Eating more, and Drinking more Coffee


The origin of Doug the Wombat actually precedes the BUSHY TALES strip. In fact, it could be said that the strip grew out of, and around, this character. Allow me to explain.....

About twenty years (or so) ago I was doing a few random sketches, one of which turned out to be a wombat that I liked. However, as I was producing another cartoon strip at the time, I did not have any time, or ideas, to develop anything from these early sketches....though I always thought that it might develop into something one day. These sketches were just drawn on loose sheets of paper and, unusually for me, I did not lose them or throw them out over the ensuing years. Perhaps, somewhere in the dim, dark recesses of my mind, I knew that I would revisit these sketches one day.

That day eventually came early in 2011 when my wife, Robyn, and I were returning home from a weekend with some good friends in rural New South Wales. Whilst driving home through the beautiful Australian countryside, I was doing a lot of thinking about various things and, during the course of the trip, the whole concept of the BUSHY TALES comic strip was birthed and started to take shape. 

Of course, the cute wombat from those sketches of years past was destined to become the central character of this new comic strip and everything just "came together". as they say, from there.
It was a very productive drive, in my opinion! 


Of course, it is one thing to come up with a character, but another thing entirely to then develop the character within the context of a comic strip and in relation to other characters.

The setting for BUSHY TALES is on The Bluff...a rocky outcrop overlooking a creek and a valley. The Bluff is the enclave home to an eclectic assortment of Aussie bush animals....but Doug was not originally one of them. I elected to have Doug enter the strip as an "outsider", a character from a distant place. As the story unfolded, it turned out that he was (to his knowledge) the only one who escaped a devastating bush fire. In his wandering he ended up at The Bluff....and he has stayed ever since, finding his place in his adopted furry family.
So much so that he is, most certainly, the central character of the strip.

Here is the very first BUSHY TALES daily strip and the introduction of Doug.....

Doug has come a long way since those early days.
His appearance has changed, or at least developed, as you can see from these few pics...                  

Every character in a comic strip needs to have certain characteristics, or personality traits, that will enable readers to relate to it. After all, if readers cannot relate to a character, or a strip, why would they bother reading it?
The classic example is cats really love lasagna and hate Mondays? Of course not!
But people do. And, therefore, they relate to Garfield.

Doug, like most animal cartoon characters, is very anthropomorhic. This means that the animal (or whatever) takes on human characteristics.
So for Doug this means that he loves coffee, likes eating, can read a newspaper, watches television, writes poetry and short stories, and does other things that wombats don't normally do.
But people do! And, therefore, people see a bit of themselves in the character.

Doug loves his coffee! Thankfully, for him, caffeine has no stimulant effect and, consequently does not affect his sleeping habits at all. In fact he is quite proud of how he can balance these two necessities of life!

In addition to all of this, a further development in recent times has seen Doug take on an alter-ego........

The creation of Wombatman in the strip has given me an opportunity of doing some crazy things and following some unusual story lines that I would not have previously been able to do. 

Wombatman is a bit of a parody, of course, and I really enjoyed the first ever Wombatman strip. It was drawn shortly after a particular Batman movie and the title worked well with Doug's love of sleeping......

Well, without giving too much away....Doug is going on a big trip back to his old home, destroyed by a major bushfire...with many adventures along the way!

And, in a future edition of the BUSH WEEK blog I will go through the actual process of drawing Doug, and the other characters in the strip.

Until next time....

Joyfully yours!



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